HAVANA, Nov. 27th. The technological deployment for the use of Russian MIR cards as a means of payment in Cuba began last week, Juan Carlos García Granda, Minister of Tourism, announced on his account on the social network The extent of Russian interference in the Island is evident.
The implementation process will be gradually extended to the entire country, starting in tourist facilities in Havana, Varadero and the keys of Ciego de Ávila and Camagüey, said García Granda, quoted by the official newspaper Granma.
According to the official Prensa Latina, the plan is to close in 2023 with the service in force in most of the facilities in the tourism sector, chain stores and service centers throughout Cuba. The media reported that the cards of the Russian MIR payment system can now be used in the ATMs of Cuban banks.
A little over a month ago, oligarch Boris Titov, president of the Russian-Cuban Business Council and Kremlin representative to develop his investments on the Island, was in Havana, where he was received by Miguel Díaz-Canel.
Titov checked some supposed advances related to the so-called Cubastroika that have not actually meant any improvement in the general crisis that the Island is suffering.
During that trip, Titov celebrated, in statements to the Russian agency Tass, that “in the near future in Cuba it will be possible to pay in rubles with the MIR card.” This system aims to circumvent Washington’s sanctions on Moscow and Havana. It also seeks to “satisfy the needs of Russian tourists and businessmen in Cuba,” Prensa Latina noted.
For the analyst and former Cuban diplomat Juan Antonio Blanco, “this is not going to change Cuba’s economic situation at all.”
“What it is going to do is create accounts in rubles in Cuba with which Cuban companies will be able to settle – if they do so, because they never pay – accounts to Russian companies, and so on, in that same currency, but in reality that “It’s not the idea.
The idea is to create the conditions to see if Cubans can find enough useful fools to open the doors of bank accounts to MSMEs in the United States,” Blanco told Martí Noticias.
“So they can evade the sanctions, both Russia and Cuba, because, especially if they remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, they remove all the filters that the movements of Cuba’s banking flows have, and that is what that they are really looking for. That would be the real achievement,” he said.
For his part, economist Orlando Freire Santana considered that the authorization of the use of MIR cards in Cuba has as its primary objective the attraction of Russian tourists.
“If they can use their MIR cards, then it would be easier for them, and the Cuban Government would attract Russian tourists, which it greatly needs because income from the Cuban tourism industry is declining,” he said.Russia has a third place among the countries that send travelers to Cuba.
In Freire Santana’s opinion, the measure, “more than anything, what it does is strengthen Russian domination over the Cuban economy.”
“With increasing Russian dominance, Russian participation in all branches of the Cuban economy is increasing. So the Russian-Cuban economic-commercial relations must reach the same level as the political relations and political relations of both Cuba and Nicaragua and Venezuela. march in step with the Kremlin’s geopolitics,” said Freire Santana.
For the Cuban political scientist and oppositionist Manuel Cuesta Morúa, what is happening now is the second part of what happened after Fidel Castro came to power: “the subordination, the loss of autonomy of Cuba in international relations and the dependence always of some other power”.
“Contrary to the discourse that has been assumed about national sovereignty, it seems that the Cuban authoritarian model cannot live without subordination to some power, and now, with Russia, we are once again entering that path of loss of sovereignty,” he told Martí Noticias. .
Regarding this model of Russian interference, he explained that the Kremlin has “buffer states, strong spheres of influence to which it designs not only its foreign policy.”
“There is the case of the Cuban Government, supporting, without fissures, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but, at the same time, also designing the economic model, there is the Stolypin Foundation, which is the one that is defining the economic model that Cuba will assume, a model based on the Russian oligarchic scheme of a family controlling the economic spaces and the key and strategic economic interests of the country, and on the machinery and the scheme of how to control society.
There are the repeated visits of officials of the Russian Ministry of the Interior to Cuba, meeting with the Cuban leadership,” said Cuesta Morúa.
In the activist’s opinion, part of this economic control is the export of the financing model that exists in Russia through the MIR card system, a measure that facilitates “a kind of control, not only of consumers, not only of transactions fundamental economic aspects of society but also the control of citizens through this model”.
Moscow has become one of the essential supporters of the Cuban regime. Their assistance has become more frequent as the political and military alliance has tightened. Recently, the Government of Russia assured that it will continue the delivery of “humanitarian aid” to Cuba in the spirit of the “strategic partnership” between Moscow and Havana.
In the case of the island’s regime, it has supported the Kremlin in its invasion of Ukraine both in international forums and by spreading Russian propaganda around the conflict.
Miguel Díaz-Canel and Raúl Castro received on Wednesday the Russian Minister of the Interior, Vladimir Kolokoltsev, who arrived in Havana on Monday. Neither Díaz-Canel nor the general addressed the issue of the Cubans hired by the Russian Army with the Kremlin official, judging by the scant reports in the official press.
Russian financing promotes numerous priority projects for the regime. Russian donations range from oil to food and the authorities of that country postponed until 2027 the payment of a debt of 2.3 billion dollars plus interest.
Russia granted the Government of Cuba another extension until 2040 of payments on a loan for the construction of a power plant that never saw the light of day, and for whose fate Havana has never been accountable.