Riots in Cuba and an assassination in Haiti may not seem that important in the scope of world news. But these Caribbean nations hold positions vital to American and world interests.
Since the 1823 formulation of what’s called the Monroe Doctrine (named after President James Monroe), America has generally considered any other major power’s influence in the Western Hemisphere to be unwelcome—nearby neighbors having an impact on U.S. interests.
Recent demonstrations in Cuba and a political assassination in Haiti bring to our attention these two Caribbean nations and their strategic importance to the balance of world power. Should an outside major power gain influence or, worse, some level of control over these two countries, a grave threat would sit next door to the United States. A little-understood dynamic in biblical geopolitics would also be changing. Let’s look at what is happening and understand why it’s important in global terms.
Unrest in Cuba
In July mass demonstrations broke out in 20 cities across the island nation of Cuba. Since 1959 Cuba has been ruled by the socialist dictatorship set up by Fidel Castro, now in the hands of his successors. What was a prosperous island nation in the 1950s is today a broken and impoverished country run by a corrupt elite.
“All available data . . . show that before Castro took power, Cuba was far from being in a disastrous situation. In 1958, the Cuban income per capita was double that of Spain and Japan. Cuba had more doctors and dentists per capita than Britain. Cuba was second per capita in Latin America in ownership of automobiles and telephones, and first in the number of television sets per inhabitant. Cubans could enter and leave the country freely” (Guy Milliere, “The Cuban People Deserve Freedom: Where Is the US Help?” Gatestone Institute, July 25, 2021).
Government reaction to the recent protests was swift. Internet access was restricted along with a news blackout. A lid was put on a simmering cauldron, and information has been slow to come out. Perceptions of Cuba are uneven and skewed by misinformation and lack of freedoms, with contact between Cuba and America kept to a minimum.
While the nation lies only 100 miles off the Florida coast, traveling there has been restricted. Cuban refugees have built a strong presence in Florida and the larger United States. Baby boomers remember proximity as a past concern, particularly in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when the Russian-led Soviet Union placed nuclear-tipped missiles on the island. The resulting standoff brought the two nuclear superpowers to the brink in the classic example of Cold War hostilities.
Today it’s popular for critics of American policy to blame Cuba’s poverty on the American embargo of goods and services through the decades. But this leaves a lot out of the story. Cuba has been free to trade with any other nation. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia did not retain Cuba as a client state. Venezuela stepped in and for many years used its revenue from its rich oil deposits to finance Cuba.
Cuba’s failed communist, socialist government is to blame for the nation’s present poverty. Citizens are in the streets because they suffer from failed government and corrupt leaders. Life in Cuba is a painful experience. The nation is caught in a time warp.
Look at a map of Cuba. It guards the way into and out of the Gulf of Mexico. Two of America’s most important ports, Houston and New Orleans, depend on open navigation through these waters. Freedom to navigate this area has always been vital to the economic and security interests of the United States.
Cuba forms a vital passage, a “chokepoint,” by two straits its location creates. A hostile power holding this island could put a strategic hold on American power. Since the early part of the 19th century American leaders have been rightly concerned that European powers (Great Britain, Spain, France and Russia) could gain a power advantage by controlling Cuba and these straits. Hence the articulation of the Monroe Doctrine.
Haiti’s similar position
At the same time as the Cuban unrest, the nation of Haiti, the poorest and most tragic of Caribbean countries, was rocked by the assassination of its president, Jovenel Moise. Armed men entered the presidential home, shooting him 12 times and wounding his wife, throwing the unstable, impoverished nation deeper into turmoil. Moise was not a popular leader, like most Haitian presidents, and his loss was not mourned, though it left a power vacuum.
Haiti was once the “Jewel of the Antilles,” its resources making it one of the world’s richest islands. It produced sugar cane, coffee, cotton, rice and rum. It was also a port to the rich resources of Central and South America.
An 1802 slave revolt in Haiti against French rule led to the creation of an independent nation run by former slaves. Facing yellow fever and astute leadership by the revolting slaves, the French retreated. Losing control of Haiti was a prime factor in Napoleon’s decision to leave the hemisphere and sell France’s vast New World territory to the United States in what became the greatest real estate bargain in history—the Louisiana Purchase.
Since then the nation has experienced a long downhill slide into kleptocracy. Haiti today is a failed state. It has been failed by its own leaders as well as outside powers. Currently there is no leader who has emerged with the vision, wisdom or any ability to take effective control of the nation and lead its people to a better life. This is the ongoing tragedy of Haiti.
Danger of outside power
Should either Cuba or Haiti fall under the control of a power hostile to U.S. interests, it could tip the balance of world power. It’s known that China has been working in Cuba, building a telecommunications infrastructure there. China has such involvements around the world as a part of its effort to project influence and power.
China has made no secret of its intent to replace the United States as the world’s leading power, and it’s well on its way. However, it does not want to engage in a direct war with the United States. The outcome would be uncertain and something it cannot afford. Beyond continuing to build a powerful military and navy, China projects power in other ways. Through loans and the building of technology and hard infrastructure in poorer nations like Cuba, it gains a presence, albeit one not always large enough to take effective control.
Should the Chinese take control of a strategically crucial island like Cuba or Haiti—and at present we have no evidence that they are trying to do this—it could create a position for negotiating a change in the power structure. If Cuban leaders decided they needed a new “patron” who could provide needed money and technology, China could be able to step in. A controlling Chinese presence in Cuba or any other location in the Western Hemisphere would challenge the balance of power and particularly America’s historic role as a regional and world power. That’s why unrest in Cuba and Haiti is something America and the world need to be watching.
“The Abrahamic Doctrine”
America’s historic world position is part of a larger purpose connected to the promises God made to the biblical patriarch Abraham. Because Abraham obeyed God, a covenant was established wherein Abraham’s name would be great and his descendants would become a great nation and a blessing. God promised that through Abraham all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3).
This multifaceted spiritual and physical blessing has been carried into the modern world and continues to be active and alive. Jesus Christ, the ultimate Seed or descendant of Abraham, is the means for spiritual salvation to all peoples both now and in the future. The physical dimension of this covenant blessing is in modern times found primarily in the English-speaking nations, of which America is now the leader.
An important dimension of this promise is found in Genesis 22:17, where God said that Abraham’s descendants would “possess the gate of their enemies” (see also Genesis 24:60). Historically understood to be geographic locations vital to transportation and regional economic and political dominance, these places, sometimes called chokepoints, as noted above—such as the Strait of Malacca, the Panama Canal, major seaports and other strategic features like the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn—have provided the means for nations like Great Britain and America to assert power and influence.
The Monroe Doctrine not only articulated a forward-looking geopolitical intent, but it was an integral part of a historic progression fulfilling ancient promises to Abraham—a major key to understanding the prophetic story of history. A study of this story should lead to recognition of what we might call “the Abrahamic Doctrine.” God has fulfilled His promises to Abraham. Modern history reflects that divine purpose and plan. Without this understanding we can make little sense of the modern world, failing to grasp what Bible prophecy says about where events are headed.
What may seem minor events in small countries take on greater meaning when understood in the context of God’s plans for the nations!