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BK Smith Lecture Talks Cuba Dispute

Photo: Dr. Jonathan C. BrownThe University of St. Thomas History Department will host Dr. Jonathan Brown for the 2013 B.K. Smith Lecture on "Cuba and the Sino-Soviet Dispute" at 7:30 p.m. on March 5 in Jones Hall.

Brown, a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin and a distinguished visiting professor at the United States Air Force Academy since 2010, is an expert on Latin American and Argentine social history, and the Cuban Revolution.

Brown said, at the height of the Cold War in the 1960s, the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China and revolutionary Cuba would seem to have been steadfast allies in the struggle against what they called “Western Imperialism.” He said the PRC and the USSR developed a long-simmering rivalry that split the socialist countries into two hostile encampments.

Brown will discuss how Cuba, isolated from its allies, attempted to create its own path independent from both the Soviet Union and Communist China. Brown commented we know that Cuba would have preferred not to align itself to either side in the Sino-Soviet Dispute.

“At the beginning, Fidel Castro did benefit from the patronage of both the Soviets and the Chinese,” he said. “But Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev and Mao Zedong required Cuba to choose sides. Only when Cuba’s concerted efforts to ‘export revolution’ to other countries of Latin America finally ended in failure in 1968 did Fidel Castro decide to make a pragmatic rather than ideological bargain with the USSR.”

Several top secret reports from the CIA and State Department intelligence were declassified in the 1990s, allowing scholars like Brown to investigate some of the official contacts between the three socialist regimes.

Brown has published several books, including “A Socioeconomic History of Argentina, 1776-1860,” which won the Bolton Prize. He is currently writing a book on the Cuban Revolution.

Brown’s observations are sure to be enlightening and thought-provoking. The event is free and open to the public.

The B.K. Smith lecture was established in 1957 by the family and friends of the late Benjamin Kopper Smith. The series invites distinguished scholars for an informal lecture with students, faculty and the community.

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