The Consensual Invasion: How Cuba took over a rich Venezuela and turned it into a colony – Part I

Sitting on the largest oil reserves in the world, Venezuela was once the richest nation in Latin America. Then socialism opened the door to the Castro dictatorship, and it became a satellite of communist Cuba. The most amazing part was that this invasion by Cuba was totally consensual and welcomed.

In this seven-part series from La Gran Aldea, Gloria M. Bastidas explains how Venezuela went from a rich country to a satellite of Cuba (my translation):

‘The consensual invasion’: From a rich nation to a satellite of Havana

A book published by Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial narrates with elegant prose how the Cuban regime sank its tentacles into Venezuela until it absolutely controlled everything. Notaries and registries. The issuance of IDs and passports. The Armed Forces. Intelligence services. PDVSA’s software. Ministries. Ramp 4 of Maiquetía. It’s written by Diego Maldonado, a pseudonym aimed at protecting the author’s identity. But the text is much more than that. “The consensual invasion” is the story of the monumental looting that the Castro regime carried out of Venezuela’s vast oil wealth without “firing a shot.”

Part I

Question in the style of National Geographic: What is the most predatory animal that exists? The answer jumps from zoology to geopolitics: Cuba. This is the image that comes to mind after reading in one sitting the book “The Consensual Invasion,” published by Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial, whose author conceals his identity under the pseudonym: Diego Maldonado. It’s almost 400 pages is where the puzzle of the progressive takeover of Venezuela by the Cubans is put together.

Maldonado condenses it with an expression: From a rich country to a satellite of Havana. How could it happen? The purpose of the investigation is to decipher the riddle. But not with clichés and slogans. Maldonado achieves it with solid data and elegant prose. “The Consensual Invasion” walks through various details. From that interview held by Fidel Castro with Rómulo Betancourt in 1959, to the first visit made by Hugo Chávez to Havana in 1994. These are two encounters that seal a destiny, as the author points out.

In the 1959 meeting, we see a shrewd Betancourt who is not dazzled by the fireworks of the Cuban revolution and refuses to lend Castro $300 million or sell him oil in comfortable installments. He doesn’t want to, but he can’t either. Maldonado emphasizes that the oil business was in the hands of transnational corporations. Betancourt was not impressed by the hero of the Sierra Maestra. An overacted hero who, when he got off the plane at Maiquetía, carried the rifle on his shoulder. The typical trait of Castro’s personality: The theatrical gesture.

The 1994 encounter has the opposite effect. It marks the genesis of a pathological relationship that turned Venezuela into a protectorate of the Caribbean island. And it wasn’t that Castro bewitched Chávez when they met that December 1994. It’s that Chávez, with a colossal ego, directly proportional to that of his host, was before already mesmerized by the Cuban model. Concave and convex. Castro held the rights to a patent that his pupil longed for: The recipe to crown his political project of perpetual domination, whose effectiveness is clearer today than ever. Both died and their respective kingdoms appear fortified. And Chávez, who had led a military uprising just two years earlier and had the makings of a leader – the speech he gave at the University of Havana during that first visit to the island did not escape the eyes of the astute Castro – could become a lucrative checkbook, as indeed happened.

Looking back, Castro’s attempts to lay hands on Venezuela’s resources become clear. He came in 1959. Betancourt vetoed him. Maldonado recounts how this snub aroused his anger. The bearded man sought revenge. He gave oxygen to the guerrilla (the Communist Party of Venezuela had decided to launch into armed struggle in 1961) and forged two armed expeditions: The Tucacas expedition (1966), in which Arnaldo Ochoa participated, the general who would later be executed for his alleged involvement in drug trafficking and who – a very important detail that Maldonado highlights – remained incognito in Venezuela for a year. And the other would be the Machurucuto invasion (1967).

Regarding this latter event, Maldonado collects the testimony of the former guerrilla Héctor Pérez Marcano: “Fidel accompanied us, he got on the boat and gave each of us a Rolex.” Castro always attentive to all the details. He seduces with rhetoric or with a souvenir.

“With Chavismo in power, Venezuela became the largest employer of Cubans abroad. An ‘army’ of more than 220 thousand workers that Cuba includes under the label of ‘export of professional services.'”

Let’s pick up the thread again: Betancourt broke off relations with the island in 1961. A year later, the Organization of American States (OAS) expelled Cuba from its ranks on the grounds that Marxism-Leninism made its presence within the Inter-American System incompatible. Castro didn’t have much leeway to sink his white shark teeth into the oil coffers. It was under the first government of Carlos Andrés Pérez (CAP) when both countries resumed relations (1974).

Cuba, however, still received a subsidy from the USSR. 98% of the oil it imported was supplied by Moscow on generous terms. Already at the end of the ’80s, when the second period of CAP came, the Soviet establishment was crumbling from within. Of course: The sharp and well-informed Castro came to Pérez’s inauguration in 1989. But, of course, neither Betancourt, his sworn enemy, nor any other Venezuelan president allowed themselves to be duped by the leader of the Cuban revolution as Hugo Chávez did. And that is precisely what “The Consensual Invasion” demonstrates.

Read the rest of this series HERE.

1 thought on “The Consensual Invasion: How Cuba took over a rich Venezuela and turned it into a colony – Part I”

  1. It’s brutally simple: Chávez was Fidel Castro’s bitch, and I mean bitch unto death. And the Venezuelans responsible for Chávez were, well, Latrines. A bad outcome was inevitable.

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