North Korea’s state newspaper Rodong Sinmun celebrated the anniversary of official diplomatic ties between the communist regime and its ally Cuba on Wednesday, touting the nations’ “common cause of the world progressive peoples for independence against imperialism and for socialism.”
“The DPRK-Cuba friendship is the invincible friendship forged under the banner of socialism,” Rodong Sinmun declared. “The Korean and Cuban peoples keenly felt through their life experience that socialism represents the ideal and rosy future of mankind. So they have fulfilled their sacred obligation in the joint struggle against the imperialists and for building socialism.”
“Today the Cuban people are firmly defending the sovereignty of the country and socialism, and are successfully advancing the revolution and construction, foiling every hideous move of the U.S. to isolate and stifle Cuba under the correct leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba headed by Raul Castro Ruz,” the article asserts.
Cuba and North Korea have enjoyed diplomatic relations since 1960, the newspaper notes—the year after Fidel Castro’s bloody communist revolution stormed Havana, putting in place a repressive regime known for its mass murders by firing squad, harrowing labor camps, and support for terrorist organizations throughout the hemisphere. North Korea’s communist regime is one of the few on the planet with a more repressive history than Cuba’s, as decades of human rights advocacy reports finding evidence of torture, public executions for “crimes” such as possessing Western entertainment media, mass starvation, and forced worship of the ruling Kim family.
The two countries are so close that North Korea ordered a mandatory three-day mourning period in November following the death of Fidel Castro. Cuba imposed a nine-day mourning period, arresting anyone deemed insufficiently enthusiastic in mourning the dictator. One man—human rights advocate and graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as “El Sexto”—spent two months in the dreaded Combinado del Este prison for celebrating Castro’s death on the streets of Havana the night it was announced.
Following the imposition of a new round of international sanctions on North Korea this year, the result of another belligerent rocket launch meant to intimidate South Korea and Japan, the Cuban state propaganda outlet Granma published a piece praising North Korea for “resisting without fear before Washington’s repeated military threats and a new and wider range of prohibitions launched against it.”
Cuba and North Korea have signed an intelligence- and technology-sharing agreement which allows the latter access to intelligence gathered by Cuba’s vast spy network, now operating more openly in the United States after President Barack Obama allowed Havana to reopen an embassy on U.S. soil.
The article is the latest to attempt to create the impression over the longer term that North Korea enjoys significant popularity in Latin America. Following President Donald Trump’s threat of “fire and fury” against Pyongyang, Rodong published a story touting a high-level diplomatic meeting between Cuban and North Korean officials in Iran. Such claims have become more frequent after a visit by Vice President Mike Pence to the region in which he encouraged South American governments to distance themselves economically from the rogue communist regime.
“We strongly urge Chile today, and we urge Brazil, Mexico, and Peru to break all diplomatic and commercial ties to North Korea,” Pence declared in Santiago, Chile, during his visit there in mid-August.
On Tuesday, Rodong Sinmun published a column addressing the nations Pence had visited—Brazil, Chile, and Peru—advertising support from the nations’ chapters of the Korean Friendship Association, an organization with only one paid employee. In reality, all three nations have condemned North Korea’s weapons program, even as they continue to do business with Pyongyang.