Cover of Our Comrades in Havana by Radoslav Yordanov
Our Comrades in Havana
Cuba, the Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe, 1959–1991
Radoslav Yordanov


July 2024
354 pages.

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503636422
Ebook ISBN: 9781503639287

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In the immediate aftermath of its successful revolution, Cuba was heralded by socialist nations as the vanguard of communism in Latin America in the early 1960s. But by the late 1980s, Cuba's inability to adopt the modes of socialist planning and Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms had deeply soured the relationship between Havana and the Soviet-led socialist bloc. While secondary literature often highlights Cuba's political and economic relations with Washington and Moscow, Havana's ideological, political, and economic relations with the Eastern European states have received considerably less attention. This book aims to fill this gap by offering a detailed chronological account of how Cuba's post-revolutionary development was influenced by Eastern European diplomats.

Outside of their roles as representatives of their respective states, Eastern European diplomats were entrusted with the task of educating local Cuban leadership in the intricacies of Marxism-Leninism, steering Cuba's governors onto the "correct path of development," helping them eradicate "erroneous ideas" of economic development, and showing them the validity of socialist "morals and ideology." By considering these developments and analyzing firsthand accounts of Eastern European diplomats' experiences in Havana, historian Radoslav Yordanov reconstructs the thinking of Eastern European diplomats and specialists in their dealings with Cuba from the 1959 Cuban revolutionary victory to the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, shedding new light on Cuba's role in the global Cold War.

About the author

Radoslav Yordanov is Center Associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University.

"A dazzling display of international history at its best. Radoslav Yordanov offers a deep scholarship richly informed through consultation of multiple archives in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Cuba—and in the process provides a much-needed corrective to understanding Cuba's role and place within the constellation of state actors during the Cold War."

—Louis A. Pérez, Jr., author of Colonial Reckoning: Race and Revolution in Nineteenth-Century Cuba

"The British spies from Grahan Greene's Our Man in Havana were replaced by Radoslav Yordanov's Our Comrades in Havana—the East European socialist diplomats and advisors, almost immediately after Fidel Castro's revolution. By analyzing their reports preserved in East European archives, this book tells us the story of Cuba and its relations with the socialist block that was never told before. It is a missing page in the history of the Cold War that sheds a new light on the communist experiment in Western hemisphere that still goes on."

—Serhii Plokhy, author of Nuclear Folly: A History of the Cuban Missile Crisis

"Meticulously researched and lucidly written, this book is indispensable reading for anybody trying to understand the complex dynamics of relations within the socialist bloc. Yordanov masterfully uses his multinational sources to show how Cuban independent spirit and unorthodox Marxism became a challenge to the Soviet leadership who were trying to educate the Cubans to be "true communists" and to restrain their internationalist policies."

—Svetlana Savranskaya, co-author of The Last Superpower Summits: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Bush