THINGS have come a long way since the Cuban revolution in 1959. As soon as Fidel Castro came to power, India under Nehru was among the first countries to recognise Cuba, outside the then communist bloc. The Cubans responded by opening one of their first diplomatic missions in Asia in New Delhi. India too opened its mission in Havana. Cuba applied for NAM membership and was immediately admitted, adding a new dimension to relations between the two countries.
In the decades that followed, the two nations maintained excellent ties. Castro's equation with Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were very good, notes Olga Chamero Trias, Cuba's ambassador to India.
These relations changed dramatically after the Cold War. Both India and Cuba lost their international crutch—the Soviet Union. Earlier, bilateral trade was not subject to international hard currency regimes. With India going in for a floating exchange rate, the bottom dropped out of Indo-Cuba economic ties.
The ties were tested for the first time when the Cuban foreign minister...