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Atoms for Autonomy: Explaining the Cuban reaction to the Chernobyl nuclear accident

Authors:
ATOMS FOR AUTONOMY:
Explaining the Cuban reaction to the Chernobyl nuclear accident
Isabelle DeSisto
Harvard University
ASCE Student Paper Award Competition
May 2020
DeSisto 1
(1) Introduction
On August 25, 1986, the Cuban daily newspaper Granma published an exchange of
letters between Cuban president Fidel Castro and American congressman Michael Bilirakis.
Bilirakis wrote that he had learned of Cuba’s plan to build a nuclear power plant with Soviet aid,
and urged Castro to “take precautions against a repetition” of the Chernobyl disaster, which had
occurred just six days earlier.
1
“Millions of people from your country and mine could be affected
by a radiation leak like the one at the Chernobyl plant,” he warned.
In his reply, Castro defended the Cuban project, asserting that neighboring countries
should not fear a nuclear accident in Cuba. “No nuclear power plant in the United States has the
security or the number of highly qualified engineers, technicians and workers as ours,” he
emphasized. On the subject of Chernobyl, he remained silent.
2
A contemporary reader might interpret Castro’s silence to mean that he was either
unaware of the deadly consequences of Chernobyl or indifferent to them. Neither is true. The
Cuban government understood the damage unleashed by the Chernobyl accident, but refused to
halt its efforts to bring nuclear energy to the island. In 1990, Cuba’s contradictory behavior
became even more pronounced when the government launched a program to bring children from
the Chernobyl disaster zone to receive medical treatment in Cuba.
3
By offering to treat tens of
thousands of victims, Cuba was implicitly acknowledging the devastation caused by Chernobyl.
Yet, at the same time as the Cuban government converted the beach of Tarará into a medical
complex for Soviet patients, construction on twin nuclear reactors near the village of Juraguá
steamed ahead. Paradoxically, the Chernobyl accident had a negligible impact on Cuba’s plans to
build its own nuclear power plant.
DeSisto 2
In this paper, I examine Cuba’s response to the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Why did the
Cuban government launch a massive medical aid program for the victims of Chernobyl while
simultaneously advancing construction on a Cuban nuclear power plant? What does this behavior
reveal about Cuba’s perception of its role in the world? How does the Cuban case shed light on
the significance of nuclear energy for developing countries?
This paper is divided into seven sections. The introduction provides a glimpse into
Cuba’s contradictory response to the Chernobyl disaster. Section 2 outlines the existing
scholarship and my approach to the topic. Section 3 features a brief historical account of the
1986 nuclear accident and examines the Cuban reaction. Sections 4 and 5 describe the Juraguá
Nuclear Power Plant and the “Children of Chernobyl” program. Section 6 reveals why these two
projects are not contradictory, if one considers them from the perspectives of autonomy and
prestige. Finally, the conclusion explains how this paper contributes to a more nuanced
understanding of Soviet-Cuban relations, Cuban national self-perception, and the factors that
inform developing countries’ nuclear aspirations.
(2) Literature and methodology
Although the Cuban nuclear program and the Cuba’s medical aid to the victims of
Chernobyl received significant media coverage, historians and social scientists have turned their
attention elsewhere.
In Nuclear Power in Cuba after Chernobyl, Jorge Pérez-López writes that “the impact of
the Chernobyl accident on the Cuban nuclear power program appears to be marginal.”
4
Pérez-
López’s article was published in 1987, only one year after the accident. In hindsight, I find that
Pérez-López was largely correct. By the time of Chernobyl, Cuba had already invested
DeSisto 3
significant financial resources in its nuclear power program and was loath to give it up. But there
are two other reasons why Cuba turned a blind eye to Chernobyl: abandoning the Juraguá
reactors would not only cut off Cuba from the prestigious club of developed nuclear powers, but
would also imply that Cuba was vulnerable to repeating the Soviet mistake.
Although Cuba’s medical aid program for the children of Chernobyl was the largest of
any country, research on the topic is similarly scant. John M. Kirk addresses the policy in his
2015 book Healthcare without Borders, but does not provide a systematic analysis of the politics
undergirding it. He explains the Cuban government’s motivations through language of
“humanitarianism,” dismissing what he calls “simple questions of geopolitics.”
5
I challenge
Kirk’s simplistic view of Cuban altruism. In devoting millions of dollars to these ailing children,
Cuba was certainly doing a good deed; but that does not mean it nothing to gain politically.
No scholar has analyzed the connection between Cuba’s nuclear power plant and the
“Children of Chernobyl.” The paper begins to fill the gap in the literature.
My analysis relies chiefly on articles published in Granma, the official newspaper of the
Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, which I obtained from the Harvard
University microfilm collection. Using the Granma Archives Index of the Latin American
Network Information Center, I created a comprehensive database of 113 articles about the
Chernobyl disaster, the Juraguá Nuclear Power Plant, and the Children of Chernobyl program.
6
My primary method of analysis was qualitative: I read each article and searched for themes in
language and content. I also performed two types of quantitative analysis. First, I gauged the
importance Granma ascribed to each article by noting the page it was printed on and whether it
appeared above or below the fold.
7
Second, I measured the trend in the number of articles
DeSisto 4
published on a given topic over time. I supplemented these articles with recent pieces published
on Granma’s online platform and interviews I conducted in Havana in 2019.
(3) The Chernobyl disaster and the Cuban reaction
On April 26, 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded, triggering
the worst nuclear accident in history.
8
Citizens from the nearby town of Pripyat were evacuated,
but not until 36 hours after the accident began.
9
The Soviet government was initially hesitant to
inform the international community about what had occurred, but on April 28 it made a brief
press release.
10
Despite Soviet efforts to minimize the accident, word spread globally.
Cuba’s reaction to the Chernobyl accident was muted. On April 29, 1986, Granma
reprinted a three-sentence-long announcement from the Soviet state news agency, explaining that
an accident had occurred and that the situation was under control.
11
Over the next two months,
Granma parroted Soviet media which downplayed the severity of the accident. On May 9,
Granma’s foreign correspondent in the USSR wrote that “the Chernobyl accident was not a
nuclear explosion, but rather a failure in the plant.”
12
Another article condemned the way in
which Western countries “circulated propagandistic rumors for the sake of their aggressive
anti-Soviet policy.”
13
Of the seven articles published in Granma in 1986 that make reference to
Chernobyl, five appear on pages five and six, buried within the newspaper.
Most Cubans were not aware of the true scale of the accident. “Nobody understood the
dimension of it,” said Mariana, a Cuban philosophy professor.
14
Juan was studying engineering
at a university in Kyiv when the reactor exploded. When he returned to Cuba for the summer
holiday, he underwent a series of medical tests but was never fully informed about the
consequences of the disaster. Juan described that time as a “dark chapter” in his life.
15
DeSisto 5
The Cuban government did not want to call attention to what had happened. For decades,
Cuba had preached the virtues of nuclear energy. If people learned the true magnitude of the
Chernobyl accident, they might oppose Cuba’s own nascent nuclear energy program. This
explains why the Cuban government similarly downplayed the 1979 nuclear accident at Three
Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania.
16
In the Chernobyl case, it was especially important for the Cuban government to limit
causes for alarm. The Three Mile Island accident was the result of the negligence of Cuba’s
greatest adversary; but Chernobyl was the fault of its staunchest ally. Even more worrisome was
the prospect of damaging the Cuban government’s own credibility. After all, Cuba had
consistently praised the Soviet nuclear program. In statement published just one year before the
Chernobyl accident, a Granma reporter asserted that “[the Soviets] do not fear the myth of an
‘accidental nuclear explosion,’ because they know that … that would be impossible.”
(4) The Juraguá Nuclear Power Plant
Under a 1976 bilateral agreement, the USSR agreed to provide technical assistance to
Cuba to build two 440-megawatt VVER light water reactors in Juraguá, near the Cuban city of
Cienfuegos.
17
In 1979, the Cuban government established the Atomic Energy Commission of
Cuba (CEAC), headed by Soviet-trained nuclear physicist (and Castro’s eldest son) Fidel Castro
Díaz-Balart.
18
Construction on the first reactor began in 1983 and quickly accelerated.
19
By June 1985,
5,000 construction workers from all across the island and from other socialist bloc countries
were employed at the plant.
20
The Cuban government also commissioned the construction of
apartment buildings to house the thousands of engineers and technicians who would work at the
DeSisto 6
plant. This new settlement was christened “The Nuclear City.”
21
The Juraguá project came to be
known throughout the island as “La Obra del Siglo,” or “The Project of the Century.”
22
Chernobyl damaged the credibility of nuclear energy worldwidebut not in Cuba. In
1987, Pérez-López wrote that “Chernobyl does not seem to have affected the long-term
commitment of the Cuban government to nuclear power.”
23
Just two weeks after the accident,
Granma published a front-page story announcing that Cuba had signed a contract with the Soviet
firm Atomenergoexport for equipment and materials for the Juraguá plant.
24
Figure 1 shows the
trend in the number of articles published in Granma about the Juraguá plant. If Chernobyl had
motivated the Cuban government to reconsider its plans for Juraguá, then one would expect to
see a decrease in articles about the plant after 1986. With the exception of 1988, when
construction on the plant had stalled, there were 10 articles published about Juraguá in each of
the years between 1985 and 1989. Chernobyl is not associated with a decline in media coverage
of Juraguá.
Figure 1
25
DeSisto 7
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, financing for the project dried up. Soon, the
U.S. began to ramp up pressure on Cuba to abandon its nuclear ambitions. The drama continued
when Fidel Castro fired his son Fidel Castro Díaz-Balart from his post at CEAC. “He was fired
for being inefficient,” said Castro in an interview with a Uruguan newspaper. There is no
monarchy in Cuba.”
26
Finally, on September 5, 1992, Castro announced the “the temporary halt of construction
on the Juraguá nuclear power plant,” explaining that the measure was “painful, but inevitable.”
27
Cuba simply did not have the money or the political will to continue. The project was a
“graveyard of money,” said Juan Sánchez Monroe, former Cuban ambassador to Serbia.
28
There
is no evidence that the Chernobyl accident had a direct impact on Castro’s decision to pause the
project. Nevertheless, Chernobyl may have had an indirect impact on the outcome, as it
motivated U.S. lawmakers to increase pressure on Cuba to cease its nuclear activities. The plant
remained in limbo until 2000, when Castro and newly elected Russian president Vladimir Putin
agreed to officially abandon it.
29
(5) The Children of Chernobyl
The case of Juraguá might suggest that Cuba did not fully understand or care about the
risks involved in nuclear power generation. But the Cuban government was highly sensitive to
the disastrous consequences of Chernobyl, as evidenced by its medical aid to the victims of the
accident. Between 1990 and 2011, over 26,000 Chernobyl victims received free medical
treatment in Cuba.
30
Cuba’s medical aid program for the children of Chernobyl was the largest of
any country.
31
DeSisto 8
The impetus for the program came from Anatoly Matvienko, the General Secretary of the
Ukrainian Komsomol, who expressed his “worry about the state of Ukrainian children after the
accident” to Cuban consul Sergio López in 1989.
32
Cuba eagerly answered his call. In March
1990, the first group of 139 children from Kyiv arrived in Havana.
33
After rapidly converting the
former camp of the Cuban Young Pioneers at Tarará beach into a medical complex for new
patients, Cuba significantly increased its capacity.
34
In July, Castro announced that Cuba could
take in 30,000 children annually if the Soviet side so desired.
35
Although the number of patients never reached that scale, the Children of Chernobyl
program was massive. Patients were sorted among three levels of treatment based on the severity
of their conditions.
36
The most common ailments treated were endocrine disorders, digestive
disorders, skin conditions, stomach problems, and orthopedic disorders.
37
About 8% of patients
had surgical operations, but usually their health improved simply thanks to a new environment
with low stress and proper nutrition.
38
Coverage of the Children of Chernobyl in the Cuban media was extensive. In 1990,
Granma published 19 articles about the program. Of the 25 articles published between 1990 and
1992, 84% appeared on pages 1-3, and 76% were “above the fold,” reflecting their importance in
the eyes of the Cuban government.
39
(See Figure 2.) By contrast, less than 50% of the articles
about the Chernobyl accident were printed on the first three pages. Although the Juraguá Nuclear
Power Plant also received widespread media coverage73% of articles about the plant appeared
on the first three pagesthe Children of Chernobyl program was clearly the most popular topic.
In the articles written about the program, the accident itself is typically reduced to a brief
sentence or omitted completely. Nevertheless, by providing such high-profile coverage to the
program, the Cuban government implicitly acknowledged the scale of the tragedy.
DeSisto 9
Figure 2
When the USSR collapsed in 1991, Cuba was plunged into a severe economic crisis,
euphemistically dubbed the “Special Period.” Work on the Juraguá plant ceased in 1992, but the
Children of Chernobyl program continued. By the program’s official conclusion in 2011, 26,114
patients from the former Soviet Union had received treatment in Cuba.
40
21,874 of these were
children and 4,240 were adults; 86% came from Ukraine.
41
After 1998, Cuban doctors also
treated Chernobyl victims in hospitals in Kyiv and Crimea.
42
The Children of Chernobyl program laid the foundation of Cuba’s bilateral relations with
Ukraine. On June 30, 1992, Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk wrote a letter to Castro,
expressing his “sincere gratitude for having helped Ukraine in the difficult struggle against the
consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe.”
43
In 2011, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych
presented Cuba’s ambassador to Ukraine with an order of merit for his contribution to the
DeSisto 10
Children of Chernobyl program.
44
In 2012, Castro returned the favor when he decorated
Yanukovych with the José Martí order “for his contribution to the development of the bonds of
friendship and cooperation existing between the two countries.”
45
The Ukrainian government’s continued efforts to highlight Chernobyl reflect the way in
which the nuclear accident became a crucial component of Ukrainian nation-building in the
aftermath of the Soviet collapse.
46
Although Belarus suffered the greatest levels of radioactive
contamination from Chernobyl, Ukraine is the only post-Soviet republic to wear the accident as a
badge of suffering. A letter from a group of Ukrainian mothers, which was printed in Granma on
July 4, 1992, exemplifies this strong rhetoric of victimhood. In it, the women drew an explicit
connection between Chernobyl and Ukraine, underscoring the importance of the accident for
Ukrainian national identity. “We are speaking out so that the destiny of our children, whose lives
were cut off by war, atomic bombs and chemical attacks, is not repeated,” they wrote. We don’t
want the Children of Chernobyl, the children of Ukraine, to continue this bitter list.”
47
(6) Understanding Cuba’s contradictory behavior
At first glance, Cuba’s reaction to the Chernobyl accident may seem contradictory. On
the one hand, Chernobyl had a negligible impact on the construction of Cuba’s own nuclear
power plant at Juraguá. On the other hand, by offering to provide free medical treatment to
thousands of victims, the Cuban government signaled its awareness of the scale of the accident.
If Cuba understood the human consequences of Chernobyl for the Soviet Union, then why did it
not proceed more cautiously with the Juraguá project?
DeSisto 11
In fact, the Cuban government’s behavior involved no contradiction. Cuba’s strong
support for the Juraguá Nuclear Power Plant and the Children of Chernobyl program can be
explained by the perceived contribution of both projects to the country’s autonomy and prestige.
Traditional accounts of Soviet-Cuban relations portray Cuba as a client state.
48
Yet Cuba
did not see itself this way. While Cuba was subordinate to the USSR for most of the 1970s and
1980s, it never fully surrendered its autonomy. For example, Cuba supported many liberation
movements in Africa of its own accord.
49
After the Chernobyl accident, Cuba was careful to
highlight that its VVER reactors were different than the RBMK model installed at the Chernobyl
plant.
50
The Cuban government was convinced that it would not repeat the mistakes of the Soviet
Union. In his letter to Congressman Bilirakis, Castro asserted that “Cuba responsibly observes
and will observe established regulations and advocate for greater collaboration between
neighboring states [with nuclear energy].”
51
The Cuban government “thought that the technology
was infallible,” said Ambassador Sánchez.
52
In pursuing the Juraguá project despite U.S.
pressure, Cuba asserted its autonomy. It was not a Soviet puppet doomed to the same fate as its
master, and it would not let the U.S. dictate its domestic policy.
The Children of Chernobyl program was another way for Cuba to put itself on equal
footing with the USSR. From the 1960s through the 1980s, Cuba was heavily reliant on Soviet
aid.
53
The Children of Chernobyl program was a way for Cuba to demonstrate that its
relationship with the USSR was not one-sided. On July 3, 1990, Granma quoted an official from
the Belarusian Ministry of Health, who stressed that she was “grateful that [Cuba] is taking in the
sick children whom we are not able to help in the Soviet Union.”
54
In the health sector, Cuba was
able to provide care where the USSR could not. It was a partner, not a satellite.
DeSisto 12
Yet autonomy was not the only factor at play. Prestige also created a major incentive for
Cuba to develop the Juraguá plant and Children of Chernobyl program.
Juraguá was central to Cuba’s development goals. Even before the Cuban Revolution,
Castro had expressed his dream of “bringing electricity to every last corner of the island,” citing
nuclear energy as a way to accomplish this.
55
Moreover, with no easily exploitable fuel source,
Cuba was dependent on petroleum exports from the USSR. The Cuban government predicted
that each reactor would save the country 600 million tons of oil over its lifespan.
56
Juraguá was
also a badge of honor. In 1983, Granma hailed Cuba’s election to the board of governors of the
International Atomic Energy Agency as “a demonstration of the prestige of our country in the
use of peaceful nuclear energy.”
57
Nuclear energy would not only drive industrialization, but also
improve Cuba’s standing on the world stage.
The Children of Chernobyl program also afforded Cuba significant prestige. First, the
program provided an opportunity for Cuba to showcase the crown jewel of its social policy
healthcare. When the first group of Ukrainian children arrived in Havana, Granma asserted that
patients would receive “the best medical attention with the best specialists, [and] the best
medicines available in the world today.”
58
On December 4, 1990, the newspaper announced that
a group of Soviet scientists had praised the professionalism and knowledge of the Cuban
medical personnel [...] and the scientific-technical advancements at their disposition.”
59
Second,
the program was a way for Cuba to best the United States. At a ceremony marking the opening
of the Tarará treatment facility, Castro ridiculed the fact that “the great, immense and rich
country to the North” offered to take in only 300 children.
60
John Kirk claims that humanitarianism was the driving force behind Cuban participation
in the Children of Chernobyl program.
61
If this were the case, then there would be no reason for
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the Cuban government to publicize the program so widely. That is not to suggest that Cuba’s
motivations were purely selfish. But by showing off its magnanimity to Cuban citizens and the
world at large, Cuba would benefit from the prestige associated with its advanced medical care
and willingness to devote more resources to the cause of Chernobyl than one of the wealthiest
nations on earth.
(7) Conclusion
In May 2019, the HBO network released “Chernobyl,” a five-part historical drama
chronicling the tragic events of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The series attracted millions of
viewers and claimed ten accolades at the 2019 Emmy Awards.
62
“Chernobyl” spread like
wildfire in Havana, sparking a heated debate about the significance of the accident for Cuba.
63
Initially, Cuban media downplayed the Chernobyl accident, while the government pushed
forward construction on two nuclear reactors in Juraguá. At the same time as the Juraguá project
advanced, Cuba initiated a massive medical aid program for Chernobyl victims. These actions
might seem contradictory. The Children of Chernobyl program shows that Cuba was aware of
the consequences of the accident, yet there is no evidence that this knowledge significantly
influenced its nuclear policy. I argue, however, that Cuba’s behavior is consistent.
In pursuing the Juraguá project and the Children of Chernobyl program, Cuba both
asserted its autonomy vis-a-vis the Soviet Union and added to its international prestige. After
Chernobyl, the Cuban government was convinced that it would not repeat Soviet mistakes; by
offering to take in tens of thousands of sick children, Castro positioned himself as a Soviet
partner, rather than a client. Both projects were also opportunities for Cuba to enhance its
prestige on the world stage. Juraguá was the key that would unlock the door to the prestigious
DeSisto 14
club of nuclear-powered nations, while the Children of Chernobyl program was a way to
advertise Cuba’s advanced healthcare system.
This paper makes three major contributions to scholarship. First, it adds nuance to our
understanding of Soviet-Cuban relations by supplying an example of Cuban autonomy vis-à-vis
the USSR. Second, it provides insight into Cuba’s perception of its role as a serious international
player. Finally, Cuba can serve as a case study to understand the relationship between developing
countries and nuclear energy more broadly. Prestige is an important driver of nuclear decision-
making not only in developed nuclear weapons states, but also in developing countries. Although
both the Juraguá Nuclear Power Plant and the Children of Chernobyl program have shifted from
Cuban reality to Cuban history, their lessons about Soviet-Cuban relations, Cuban national self-
perception, and developing countries’ nuclear ambitions live on.
Notes
1
The official Ukrainian spelling is “Chornobyl.” I use the traditional Russian spelling “Chernobyl,” as this appears
more commonly in references to the plant and the historical event. All translations to English are my own.
2
Fidel Castro and Michael Bilirakis, “Cartas Intercambiadas Por El Representante Norteamericano Michael
Bilirakis y Fidel Sobre La Electronuclear de Cienfuegos,” Granma, August 25, 1986.
3
José A. de la Osa, “Llegan a Cuba 139 Niños Afectados En La Tragedia de Chernóbil Para Recibir Atención
Medica,Granma, March 30, 1990.
4
Jorge F. Pérez-López, “Nuclear Power in Cuba after Chernobyl,” Journal of Interamerican Studies and World
Affairs 29, no. 2 (1987): 100.
5
John M. Kirk, Healthcare Without Borders: Understanding Cuban Medical Internationalism (University Press of
Florida, 2015), 252.
6
My search was based on article titles and key terms provided by the index. It is possible that my database excludes
relevant articles for which these topics do not appear in the title or key terms list; however, I expect that it includes
the overwhelming majority of pertinent articles. I began my analysis with articles published in 1983, as this year
marks the beginning of the work on the Juraguá Nuclear Power Plant. I ended with articles published in 1992,
because this is the last year available in the index. 1992 is also the year in which work on the Juraguá plant ceased.
“Fidel En Cienfuegos; Encontraremos Soluciones a Nuestros Problemas,” Granma, September 11, 1992.
7
Content a newspaper publisher deems most important is usually printed on the front page, and more prominent
stories are placed on the top half of the paper, or “above the fold.”
8
“The Chernobyl Disaster: What Happened, and the Long-Term Impacts,” National Geographic, May 17, 2019.
9
“The Chernobyl Disaster.”
10
“The Chernobyl Disaster.”
11
“Accidente En Central Nuclear Soviética,” Granma, April 29, 1986.
12
José Gabriel Guma, “Ratifican En URSS Que Accidente de Chernóbil No Fue Una Explosión Nuclear Sino Una
Avería En La Planta y Que La Situación Sigue Normalizándose,” Granma, May 9, 1986.
DeSisto 15
13
José Gabriel Guma, “Comunicado de TASS Sobre La Avería En La Planta de Chernóbil,” Granma, May 5, 1986.
14
Name changed to provide anonymity. Interview with Cuban philosophy professor by author in Havana, July 7,
2019.
15
Name changed to provide anonymity. Interview with Cuban engineer by author in Havana, July 25, 2019.
16
Jorge Martínez, “Los Mitos Del Cine Contra La Fuerza Del Átomo (III),” Granma, January 7, 1985.
17
Dieciséis Reactores Análogos al de Juraguá Funcionan En La URSS y Otros Países,” Granma, June 12, 1991.
Jorge Martínez, “Una Muestra Del Prestigio de Nuestro País En El Uso Pacifico de La Energía,” Granma, October
17, 1983.
18
Jorge Martínez, “Energía Nuclear de Cuba: Una Década de Esfuerzos Significativos,” Granma, February 2, 1990;
“Visitan La Central Electronuclear de Cienfuegos Delegados a Reunion Del CAME,” Granma, May 30, 1985.
19
Castro and Bilirakis, “Cartas Intercambiadas Por El Representante Norteamericano Michael Bilirakis y Fidel
Sobre La Electronuclear de Cienfuegos.”
20
Lucas Pérez, “Alrededor de 5 000 Constructores de Todo El País Participan En La Edificación de La Central
Electronuclear de Cienfuegos,” Granma, June 27, 1985.
21
Joaquín Oramas, “La Ciudad Nuclear; Un Nuevo Centro Urbano va Naciendo a La Par Que Avanzan Los
Trabajos de La Obra Del Siglo En Cuba,” Granma, March 14, 1986.
22
Oramas.
23
Perez-Lopez, “Nuclear Power in Cuba after Chernobyl,” 100.
24
Fernando Dávalos, “Firmado El Contrato General Por Los Suministros Completos de Equipos y Materiales de La
Central Electronuclear de Juraguá,” Granma, May 9, 1986.
25
Graph based on articles in index under keyword “CEN de Cienfuegos” (“Cienfuegos nuclear power plant”)
26
Fidel Castro, Fidel Castro Interviewed by Uruguayan Daily, Montevideo BRECHA, September 8, 1992. Castro
had a complicated relationship with his son, Fidel Castro Díaz-Balart. Díaz-Balart committed suicide in 2018; the
circumstances surrounding his dismissal from CEAC remain a mystery.
27
“Fidel En Cienfuegos; Encontraremos Soluciones a Nuestros Problemas.”
28
Juan Sánchez Monroe, interviewed by author.
29
Patrick E. Tyler, “Cuba and Russia Abandon Nuclear Plant, an Unfinished Vestige of the Soviet Era,” The New
York Times, December 18, 2000, sec. World.
30
“Cuba Sola Atendió Más Niños de Chernóbil Que Todo El Mundo,” Granma.cu, April 27, 2018.
31
“Chernóbil se cura en La Habana: el episodio menos conocido del accidente nuclear,” El Confidencial, June 26,
2019.
32
“Los niños de Chernóbil en Cuba: Una historia no contada (I),” Cubadebate, June 19, 2019.
33
de la Osa, “Llegan a Cuba 139 Niños Afectados En La Tragedia de Chernóbil Para Recibir Atención Medica”;
José A. de la Osa, “Sobrepasaran Hoy Los 2000 Niños de Chernóbil Que Han Viajado a Cuba,” Granma, October 8,
1990.
34
de la Osa, “Califico Fidel de Proeza Laboral La Remodelación de La Ciudad de Los Pioneros.”
35
Nidia Díaz, “Destaca Abalkin Solidaridad de Cuba Con La URSS En Momentos Difíciles,” Granma, April 21,
1990; José A. de la Osa, “Califico Fidel de Proeza Laboral La Remodelación de La Ciudad de Los Pioneros,”
Granma, July 2, 1990.
36
José A. de la Osa, “Lista La Organización Medica Para La Atención a Niños de Chernóbil,” Granma, May 4,
1990.
37
“Los niños de Chernóbil en Cuba: Una historia no contada (IV),” Cubadebate, July 17, 2019.
38
“Los niños de Chernóbil en Cuba.”
39
“Above the fold” refers to articles printed on the first half of the newspaper. Traditionally, editors devote space on
the front page and above the fold to articles they deem important.
40
“Los niños de Chernóbil en Cuba,” July 17, 2019.
41
“Los niños de Chernóbil en Cuba.”
42
“Work of Cuban Doctors Praised in the Ukraine,” IPR Strategic Business Information Database, December 10,
2009.
43
Leonid Kravchuk, “Carta a Fidel Del Presidente de Ucrania,” Granma, July 15, 1992.
44
“Cuban Ambassador Decorated in the Ukraine,” IPR Strategic Business Information Database, April 29, 2010.
45
“Ukrainian President Presented with the Jose Marti Order,” IPR Strategic Business Information Database,
October 23, 2011.
DeSisto 16
46
“‘Chernobyl Accident Became Element of Our National Identity’, Serhii Plohii,” Uatom.Org (blog), November
11, 2019.
47
Zazhitski, Kosareva, and Livientseva, “Carta a Fidel En Nombre de Madres y Niños de Chernóbil.”
48
For example, see José de Córdoba, “Fidel Castro, Cuba Revolutionary, Dies at 90,” Wall Street Journal,
November 26, 2016, sec. World.
49
Piero Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976, Envisioning Cuba (Chapel
Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002).
50
Martínez, “Energía Nuclear de Cuba: Una Década de Esfuerzos Significativos.”
51
Castro and Bilirakis, “Cartas Intercambiadas Por El Representante Norteamericano Michael Bilirakis y Fidel
Sobre La Electronuclear de Cienfuegos.”
52
Juan Sánchez Monroe, interviewed by author in Havana, August 14, 2019.
53
Jorge I. Domínguez, To Make a World Safe for Revolution: Cuba’s Foreign Policy (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 1989), 64.
54
José A. de la Osa, “Recibió Fidel a 225 Niños de Chernóbil,” Granma, July 3, 1990.
55
Martínez, “Una Muestra Del Prestigio de Nuestro País En El Uso Pacifico de La Energía.”
56
Oramas, “Ahorrara Cerca de 600 Mil Toneladas de Petróleo El Primer Reactor de La Electronuclear de Juraguá.”
57
Martínez, “Una Muestra Del Prestigio de Nuestro País En El Uso Pacifico de La Energía.”
58
de la Osa, “Llegan a Cuba 139 Niños Afectados En La Tragedia de Chernóbil Para Recibir Atención Medica.”
59
José A. de la Osa, “Califican Soviéticos de Muy Positiva Asistencia a Niños de Chernóbil,” Granma, December 4,
1990.
60
de la Osa, “Califico Fidel de Proeza Laboral La Remodelación de La Ciudad de Los Pioneros.”
61
Kirk, Healthcare Without Borders, 252.
62
“‘Chernobyl’ Tops ‘When They See Us’ in Emmy Limited-Series Battle,” Los Angeles Times, September 23,
2019.
63
Two examples of this debate are: “‘Pudimos ser nosotros’: los cubanos reaccionan a la serie de HBO
‘Chernobyl,’” América 2.1 (blog), accessed December 4, 2019; “‘Chernobyl’, la serie que todos los cubanos
deberían ver,” CiberCuba, June 11, 2019.
DeSisto 1
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Interviews
Interview with Cuban philosophy professor by Isabelle DeSisto, Havana, July 7, 2019.
Interview with Cuban engineer by Isabelle DeSisto, Havana, July 25, 2019.
Sánchez Monroe, Juan, interview by Isabelle DeSisto, Havana, August 14, 2019.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
STS research has devoted relatively little attention to the promotion and reception of science and technology by non-scientific actors and institutions. One consequence is that the relationship of science and technology to political power has tended to remain undertheorized. This article aims to fill that gap by introducing the concept of “sociotechnical imaginaries.” Through a comparative examination of the development and regulation of nuclear power in the US and South Korea, the article demonstrates the analytic potential of the imaginaries concept. Although nuclear power and nationhood have long been imagined together in both countries, the nature of those imaginations has remained strikingly different. In the US, the state’s central move was to present itself as a responsible regulator of a potentially runaway technology that demands effective “containment.” In South Korea, the dominant imaginary was of “atoms for development” which the state not only imported but incorporated into its scientific, technological and political practices. In turn, these disparate imaginaries have underwritten very different responses to a variety of nuclear shocks and challenges, such as Three Mile Island (TMI), Chernobyl, and the spread of the anti-nuclear movement.
Comunicado de TASS Sobre La Avería En La Planta de Chernóbil
  • José Gabriel Guma
José Gabriel Guma, "Comunicado de TASS Sobre La Avería En La Planta de Chernóbil," Granma, May 5, 1986.
Dieciséis Reactores Análogos al de Juraguá Funcionan En La URSS y Otros Países
  • Jorge Martínez
Jorge Martínez, "Los Mitos Del Cine Contra La Fuerza Del Átomo (III)," Granma, January 7, 1985. 17 "Dieciséis Reactores Análogos al de Juraguá Funcionan En La URSS y Otros Países," Granma, June 12, 1991.
Una Muestra Del Prestigio de Nuestro País En El Uso Pacifico de La Energía
  • Martínez
Martínez, "Una Muestra Del Prestigio de Nuestro País En El Uso Pacifico de La Energía."
Energía Nuclear de Cuba: Una Década de Esfuerzos Significativos
  • Martínez
Martínez, "Energía Nuclear de Cuba: Una Década de Esfuerzos Significativos."
Visitan La Central Electronuclear de Cienfuegos Delegados a Reunion Del CAME
"Visitan La Central Electronuclear de Cienfuegos Delegados a Reunion Del CAME," Granma, May 30, 1985.