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

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 part four of this seven-part series from La Gran Aldea, Gloria M. Bastidas continues her explanation of 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 IV

In January, Nicolás Maduro crossed the yellow line of the relationship between Cuba and Venezuela. He publicly proposed that the Island’s ambassador become part of the Council of Ministers. This confirms that the phrase uttered by Hugo Chávez on October 16, 2007, and cited by Maldonado, was not said as a rhetorical threat: “Cuba and Venezuela could form, in the near future, a confederation, two republics in one, two countries in one.”

Even before, Fidel Castro had extricated his pupil from the mud. The magical card of the “missions” allowed Chávez to overcome a setback in his popularity and win the recall referendum held in 2004. The Barrio Adentro Mission (health) and the Robinson Mission (literacy) were the first to be launched. By 2005, just one year later, the Missions became the main source of income for Cuba. This means that the flow of dollars injected into the Island via remittances and tourism, which were previously significant, took a back seat, as revealed by the author of “The Consensual Invasion.”

Maldonado resorts to a humorous image: Fidel Castro became a great headhunter. He himself became a transnational company. One can imagine that he has a secret pact with savage capitalism. The leader solves everything and provides everything. Doctors, nurses, medicine, equipment, drivers. A wide spectrum. And, of course, at a very high cost, but selling it as if he were providing humanitarian aid to Venezuela, which is what catches Maldonado’s attention. And not only him: Chávez also sold it that way.

Fidel Castro no longer enters through Machurucuto. He has no need. “It’s a silky incursion,” emphasizes Maldonado. And so, he takes care of everything. From the situational room in Miraflores, managed by the Cubans, to President Chávez’s security ring. As well as his health, which became a geopolitical factor when the leader fell ill with cancer. How would the issue of succession in Venezuela have been resolved if Chávez’s health had not been in Cuba’s hands? A question left for vague conjecture.

Why and in exchange for what would Venezuela become a voluntary satellite of Cuba? “The Consencual Invasion” scrutinizes this crucial aspect. Maldonado explains it masterfully: “What for the opposition is an unacceptable subordination, for Hugo Chávez is, on the contrary, the best alliance, one that strengthens him and guarantees him political gains. Rarely in history has the affinity between two leaders coincided so deeply on both the political and personal levels (…) Thanks to Castro – a mirror in which he likes to see himself – the Venezuelan president learns invaluable lessons to neutralize his enemies, perpetuate himself in power, and maintain social control. ‘Fidel is for me a father, a companion, a master of perfect strategy,’ he said in 2005. He is a specimen of his own kind: Bold and charismatic, narcissistic and authoritarian, lover of confrontation and endless speeches, media-savvy and macho. Chávez could switch from arrogance to humility in a matter of seconds, and from false modesty – ‘I am a humble soldier’ – to messianism – ‘I am not me. I am the people.'”

This obsession with power is what makes Chávez surrender to Havana’s feet. And unheard-of things happen. Castro becomes the totem. Cubans colonize everything. They become the educators. The ones called to educate. To educate a country that, during the Trienio, when it was just emerging from Gomecismo, advanced a successful program with local instructors and with the help of the book “Abajo Cadenas” edited by José Agustín Catalá. To educate a country that saw Andrés Bello born.

And it’s not that the plan itself was questionable. What is questionable is that Venezuela had resources to address this crusade. The point is that behind this benevolent façade, Cuban-style indoctrination was plotted, in addition to the drain of public funds. Chávez and his cohorts’ blindness was such that, as Maldonado recounts, Cuba exported personnel to Venezuela to teach the natives how to cultivate the land. That is, before the Zumaque burst in 1914, nothing happened.

Maldonado mentions that Cubans provided advice in areas where Venezuela had recognized expertise. Example: Cocoa. “Venezuela was the world’s first exporter of this product during the colonial period and is among the 23 countries exporting fine cocoa, recognized by the International Cocoa Organization, based in London, a list where the Island does not appear.

Between 2006 and 2007, the country not only had higher quality beans but also produced much more than Cuba when Chávez’s government brought a group of workers from the ‘Coffee and Cocoa Research Station of Baracoa’ to conduct an ‘on-site diagnosis’ of the conditions of the crop. In 2007, national production was 18,911 tons. Cuba’s was 1,379 tons,” Maldonado clarifies. Hard data to certify to what extent subordination to Cuba was – and is – an affront to Venezuela.

“Cuba inserted itself into the Venezuelan economy as if it were a world power.” The author of “The Consensual Invasion” says it in one sentence. And he cites more examples. Another: Pretending to give lessons to Venezuela in the steel industry. In 2005, Chávez and Castro established an alliance in this area. Maldonado does not launch offensive adjectives, he simply refers to the facts. He recalls that the obsolete Cuban industry had been paralyzed the previous year because it lacked raw materials and that Venezuela owned the third complex in the Andean region: Sidor, which, by 2005, produced 3.9 million metric tons, a figure that Cuba did not come close to matching. Maldonado points out that in 2007, the Island’s production was only 163,400 tons. We already know the outcome: After being nationalized, Sidor is in ruins. Production in 2016 barely reached 0.31 million tons.

The know-it-all Cubans also got their hands on the project of the Great Plains Railway, for which Chávez allocated $800 million for its first stretch (Tinaco-Anaco). It was supposed to be completed by 2010. This is what Maldonado points out: “The Venezuelan government also chose Cuba to help develop the national railway system as if the Island, with its old dilapidated trains, were a reference in the field.

In 2006, Chávez decreed the creation of the mixed company for Latin American Rail Infrastructure, S.A. (Ferrolasa) with the Cuban Solcar, from the Cuban Railways Union (49%). Earth moving was done, the slope for the sleepers, housing for engineers, but in 2018, $800 million later, the project was completely abandoned. Nothing moved on that track except some languid cows.”

Read the rest of this series HERE.

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