Venezuela is close to finally ridding itself of socialist tyranny and the pernicious influence of Cuba’s Castro dictatorship. After looting and plundering Venezuela and siphoning off billions of dollars, the Cuban regime in Havana is coming to grips with the fact they may be soon losing a huge source of income. And that has them worried.
Cuba keeping a watchful eye over events in ally Venezuela
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is hanging onto power in the crisis-wracked country in large part thanks to backing from the military, which according to the United States is receiving support and advice from Cuba.
While the close relationship between left-wing allies Venezuela and Cuba is well-known, Havana denies the accusations from its old Cold War foe that its actions are nefarious.
“The time has come to liberate Venezuela from Cuba,” US Vice President Mike Pence proclaimed Monday.
“Cuba’s malign influence is evident in Venezuela and in Nicaragua.”
The relationship goes back to Maduro’s mentor and predecessor Hugo Chavez, according to Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue think-tank.
Chavez, who was Venezuela president from 1999 until his death in 2013, “admired Fidel Castro, it was almost like a father-son relationship.”
“The Cuban engagement in Venezuela began then and very, very strongly,” added Shifter.
For Venezuelan lawyer and military specialist Rocio San Miguel, Cuba’s involvement in Venezuela’s state apparatus probably dates back to 2004.
Cuba has gradually taken control of “five sensitive national security areas: Notary registers, identity papers, intelligence, the armed forces and the national police,” San Miguel said.
Even so, Cuba is closely monitoring events in Venezuela.
“I think they’re extremely worried,” said Shifter.
Last week, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez invited European ambassadors for the first time to discuss topical issues, notably Venezuela.
“I saw some worry,” said one diplomat who took part in the meeting.
“They felt a bit backed into a corner and needed to clearly explain their position,” said another, adding that “there’s a real worry about a loss of profits” if Maduro leaves power.
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