Given Cuba’s long-running economic crisis, you could imagine that some lieutenant of the revolutionary government got a gold star for inventing a possible new revenue stream.

It certainly sounds like a clever move to dump some outmoded radar systems, Russian jets and missile parts on a willing taker. After all, Cuba’s Museum of the Revolution can hold only so many military souvenirs. Were the parts going to North Korea for repair, as Cuba has confessed in the days since a North Korean ship was halted at the Panama Canal? Or is Kim Jong Un refreshing his toy chest?

And burying the cargo under bags of sugar — that’s the kind of low-tech comedy we’ve come to expect from the Cubans. So, was Cuba paying North Korea in advance with sugar for the fix-it work, or was it selling a fellow underfed nation one of the only exports of substance it has to offer, along with the military hardware?

Weapons analysts have said that even if the restored equipment made its way back to Cuba, it would be ineffective to useless. The Russians made these things a half-century ago. The Cubans can hardly keep Russia’s leftover Lada cars running.

We’ve been led to expect better from Cuban President Raul Castro, who has seemed more open to repairing relations with the U.S. than was his older brother and predecessor, Fidel. But making nice with big boy Kim puts Castro on a par with Dennis Rodman.

That’s a comedy and a tragedy all rolled up into one.


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