Regime change in Algeria may mean another loss for Cuba’s slave trade business


Algeria’s Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal with Cuban dictator Raul Castro in 2016.

With the future prospects of continuing to siphon off free oil from Venezuela looking dim, Cuba’s Castro dictatorship turned to Algeria as a source for petroleum. Trading the slave labor of Cubans for crude oil, Algeria has helped the Castro dictatorship compensate for what it has lost from Venezuela.

The problem is, Algeria now has troubles of its own (via The New York Times):

The president of Algeria resigned Tuesday night under pressure from the army following weeks of mass protests, closing out the reign of North Africa’s longest-serving leader but not ending a political impasse in a country where the street is demanding revolutionary change.

The state news agency said that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is ailing and paralyzed and has not spoken to his countrymen in seven years, had submitted his resignation.

His departure followed quickly after a statement from the chief of staff of Algeria’s army, the traditional arbiter of political life in the country, calling for an “immediate” declaration from the constitutional council that Mr. Bouteflika was unfit for office.

For decades, Cuba’s Castro dictatorship has been exchanging the slave labor of doctors for crude oil. But as their human trafficking scheme is further exposed and the pool of potential clients willing to purchase slave labor dwindles, their business model has taken a hit. Nevertheless, they always had countries like Algeria they could count on.

However, regime change in that country has now left the Castro regime worried they have lost yet another slave labor client who pays in crude oil (via Reuters):

Cuba faces yet another threat to its exports of health services in exchange for oil and money as social unrest roils old friend Algeria, even as a new deal to mitigate declining support from crisis-racked Venezuela kicks in.

[…]

The North African country is a major oil and gas producer and has been a friend of Cuba ever since former leader Fidel Castro sent doctors and troops there in the early 1960s as it threw off the yoke of rule by Paris.

Communist-run Cuba has seen its foreign exchange revenues and fuel imports on preferential terms from socialist ally and economic partner Venezuela steadily fall since 2014, leading to stagnation, austerity measures, scattered shortages and late payments to foreign partners.

The latest blow to Cuba’s economy came in December when an annual $300 million deal to send doctors to Brazil was canceled after right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro took office, even as the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump ramped up its threats and sanctions against Venezuela and Cuba.

The Cuban government began importing oil from Russia and Algeria in 2017 to compensate for the Venezuelan shortfall.

Analysts say it is too early to predict how the political crisis in Algeria will unfold, but agree it is an existential threat for the import-dependent Caribbean island nation.

“Cuba could lose one of its few political allies with crude oil production and export capacity able to enter into a barter agreement of services such as doctors and teachers for oil,” said Jorge Pinon, director of the Latin America and Caribbean Energy Program at the University of Texas at Austin.

I think one thing we all can agree on: Human trafficking is a tough business.