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Soviet policies toward the Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutions : a comparison Selin, Shannon Joan


This thesis compares Soviet policy toward the Cuban revolution during the period 1959 to 1962 with that toward the Nicaraguan revolution from 1979 to the present in order to determine if the oft-levelled accusation that Nicaragua is "another Cuba" holds true. The initial Soviet reactions to the revolutions, subsequent Soviet economic, political, and military support for the new regimes, and the Soviet response to Cuban and Nicaraguan ideological declarations are examined, as is the effect of the revolutions on Soviet doctrine and on the Soviet prognosis for revolutionary success in Latin America. In discussing the similarities and differences in Soviet objectives and tactics as regards each revolution, the thesis looks particularly at the influence of several general factors on Soviet policy. These include: 1) the relative military-strategic position of the Soviet Union in the Caribbean and the desire to avoid military confrontation with the United States; 2) the policies pursued by the United States; 3) the policies pursued by the revolutionary governments; 4) the state of Soviet-American relations. The impact of the character of the Soviet leadership, the policy of other actors, the state of the Soviet economy, relations within the communist world, and the Soviet perception of American willingness to use force to counter Soviet moves in the Basin are also examined. The thesis concludes that Nicaragua is not "another Cuba." Although Soviet policy toward the early stages of the Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutions followed a similar pattern, the Soviet Union has not chosen to support Nicaragua economically, politically, and militarily to the same extent that it did Cuba. This is due to past unsatisfactory Soviet experiences with Third World clients, the lesser need of the post-Khrushchev leadership for gains in the Third World, Cuba's ability and willingness to aid the Sandinista government, and the Soviet perception that the United States is willing to use force to maintain its hegemony in the Caribbean Basin. In general, Soviet policy in the Caribbean is best characterized as one of "prudent opportunism." The Soviet Union takes advantage of opportunities presented to enhance its position in the region, but, respecting American power and geographical advantage, proceeds with caution.

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