The president of the Council of State of Cuba, Raul Castro, announced at the end of 2017 that he will retire from the Presidency in April 2018. But, how could the change of power in Cuba influence the status of the Russian radioelectronic intelligence center in Cuba? Lourdes, closed in 2002?
According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta columnist Sergei Nikitin, it is more than likely that the first vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba, Miguel Diaz Canel Bermudez, will become the new Cuban leader. But how is this 57-year-old politician going to behave - who already met with Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un and accompanied Raúl Castro during his meeting with Barack Obama in 2016-?
According to Nikitin, Havana "needs Russia," since it is forced to face the challenges posed by the policies of the Trump Administration, which seeks to nullify the successes achieved by former President Barack Obama in terms of the bilateral relations of Washington and Havana. In this way, the future Cuban leader could try to reopen the base of radioelectronic intelligence, built in the Caribbean country between 1962 and 1967. The columnist recalled that Fidel Castro himself affirmed that the Russian base was very beneficial for the Cuban authorities, since it allowed to obtain secret information about Washington's plans against the island.
For his part, the president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems of Russia, General Colonel Leonid Ivashov, revealed that the base of Lourdes was also a key element of the early warning system of nuclear or missile attacks by the US.
"The closure of this center affected the security of the country," said Ivashov.
In turn, the former president of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Russia, Viacheslav Trubnikov, stressed that the base of Lourdes had been "the eyes" of the USSR throughout the Western Hemisphere and its closure "affects our knowledge about the processes that have place in this territory. "
The center of Lourdes, built in the 1960s, played a fundamental role in the interception of classified information at the time of the Cold War. This advanced base was able to intercept data from communications satellites and US telecommunications systems, in addition to the secret data from NASA's flight control center. Although in July 2014, after a visit by Vladimir Putin to Havana, several Russian and foreign media reported that Cuba and Russia had planned to reactivate the operation of the base, Putin himself denied this information.
However, according to the columnist, although it is still not known if there will be changes in the destiny of the Lourdes base, "a sacred place is never empty [Russian proverb]", likewise, he recalled that Havana also signed an agreement with Beijing to the construction of a signal intelligence center on the island.