Thursday, April 17, 2014

Moises Naim explains how Fidel and Cuba took over Chavez and Venezuela

It is Maundy Thursday and I am tired after a very difficult week. Fortunately Moises Naim publishes a complete and brief summary on how Fidel Castro sucked the brain out of Chavez making this one transform Venezuela into a Cuban colony. Long time readers of this blog knew that, of course, but it is the first time I see this so explicitly printed in major media, title included: "Cuba fed a president’s fears and took over Venezuela".

The horrors of chavismo will be slowly but surely be revealed with time. The only question is what are going to say those who supported it even though so many denounced it?

Since it is in the Financial Time and that subscription may apply I am reproducing it complete below, video included. I apologize to the FT who offers to share the link but does not want to repost on Web. Here in Venezuela we have no such luxuries in time of resistance and I also will share the article through Twitter BEFORE I post this entry. I hope for their understanding if they find me out.

Cuba fed a president’s fears and took over Venezuela
By Moisés Naím

Caracas is paying the price for Chávez’s misplaced trust, writes Moisés Naím

The enormous influence that Cuba has gained in Venezuela is one of the most underreported geopolitical developments of recent times. It is also one of the most improbable. Venezuela is nine times bigger than Cuba, three times more populous, and its economy four times larger. The country boasts the world’s largest oil reserves. Yet critical functions of the Venezuelan state are either overseen or directly controlled by Cuban officials.

Venezuela receives Cuban health workers, sports trainers, bureaucrats, security personnel, militias and paramilitary groups. “We have over 30,000 members of Cuba’s Committees for the Defence of the Revolution in Venezuela,” boasted Juan José Rabilero, then head of the CDR, in 2007. The number is likely to have increased further since then.

A growing proportion of Venezuela’s imports are channelled through Cuban companies. Recently, Maria Corina Machado, an opposition leader, revealed the existence of a large warehouse of recently expired medicines imported through a Cuban intermediary – drugs allegedly purchased on the international market at a deep discount and resold at full price to the government.

The relationship goes beyond subsidies and advantageous business opportunities for Cuban agencies. Cuban officers control Venezuela’s public notaries and civil registries. Cubans oversee the computer systems of the presidency, ministries, social programmes, police and security services as well as the national oil company, according to Cristina Marcano, a journalist who has reported extensively on Cuba’s influence in Venezuela.

Then there is military co-operation. The minister of defence of a Latin American country told me: “During a meeting with high-ranking Venezuelan officers we reached several agreements on co-operation and other matters. Then three advisers with a distinctive Cuban accent joined the meeting and proceeded to change all we had agreed. The Venezuelan generals were clearly embarrassed but didn’t say a word . . . Clearly, the Cubans run the show.”

Why did the Venezuelan government allow this lopsided foreign intervention? The answer is Hugo Chávez. During his 14-year presidency he enjoyed absolute power thanks to his complete control of every institution that could have constrained him, from the judiciary to the legislature. He could also use Venezuela’s oil revenues at will.

One of the most transformational ways in which Chávez used the complete power he wielded was to let the Cubans in. He had many reasons to throw himself into the arms of Fidel Castro. He felt a deep affection, admiration and trust for the Cuban leader, who became a personal adviser, political mentor and geopolitical guide. Mr Castro also fed Chávez’s conviction that his many enemies – especially the US and the local elites – were out to get him and that his military and security services could not be trusted to provide the protection he needed. But the Cubans could reliably offer these services. Cuba also provided a ready-to-use international network of activists, non-government organisations and propagandists who boosted Chávez’s reputation abroad.

In return, Chávez instituted a programme of financial largesse that keeps Cuba’s economy afloat to this day. Caracas ships about 130,000 barrels of oil a day to the island on preferential terms – a small part of an aid programme that remains one of the world’s largest.

The extent to which Chávez was beholden to the Cuban regime was dramatically illustrated by the way in which he dealt with the cancer that would eventually kill him last year: he trusted only the doctors whom Mr Castro recommended, and his treatment mostly took place in Havana under a veil of secrecy.

Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro, has deepened Caracas’s dependency on Havana even further. As students have taken to the streets in protest against an increasingly authoritarian regime the government has responded with a brutal repression that relies on many of the tools and tactics perfected by the police state that has run Cuba for too long.

The writer, a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment, is a former Venezuelan minister of industry and trade


  1. Anonymous10:34 AM

    They are only 10 years late to the party on the article.

    1. agree.
      Hey, was the presidential Airbus finally "fixed". Or, is the Venezuelan State still relying on Cubana de Aviación for its official international flights?

    2. Anonymous2:23 PM

      Nearer 21 years

  2. Charly11:24 AM

    Interesting coincidence, I started reading "The End of Power" yesterday. The man is a towering thinker, definitely several notches above JVR and other similar intellectuals.

  3. Anonymous1:35 PM

  4. Para vomitar...

    1. Sorry Daniel. That comment was supposed to be a reply to the video posted above.

  5. I read the article by Moises Naim even before I read the post. What a breath of fresh air to hear this information being aired out finally. As you said, the facts will eventually come to light and the world will say, "How come no one told us this was happening?" I suppose we can get all smug, and say "Well, we tried to tell you..."


    Sen. Marco Rubio gives a forceful interview on the situation in Venezuela on CNÑ (in Spanish).

    1. Carlos Roberto9:56 AM

      Roy Roy Roy ... rookie mistake. Rubio is for traditional marriage so whatever he thinks or says in support of the opposition in Venezuela is worthless as far as this blog is concerned.

    2. Roberto Carlos

      I feel sorry for you. Must be hard to harbor so much cheap pettiness.

  7. The Cubans are not nearly the whole story! Yes, the regime has been subsidizing Cuba. However, what do you call it when the Regime places restraints on domestic companies that cripple domestic production, only to import from foreign profit-making producers? Also, why must the regime go to Iran and other countries to build factories and houses while domestic resources are just as able to perform?

    Somehow, Chavismo is more about crippling domestic producers than providing sane and competent governance (which the Cubans apparently have been unwilling or unable to provide)... what they call cutting off your nose to spite your face!

    Likewise, with the iron-clad control of power, the regime shouldn't really need to repress public unrest with such intensity. There are so many paradoxical anomalies in Venezuela now, that it doesn't make complete sense no matter how you try to imagine how the political events are aligned among all the players. Even the Cubans must know that further deterioration of the Venezuelan economy cannot serve their interests at all!

    Although the Chinese are trying to help get Sidor, Venalum, et. al. back into production, it is just another example of a tragic expropriation of a once successful vital enterprise and driving into failure. However, instead of going "backwards" to what had worked just fine, the regime is going into another experiment that has nothing to do with the Bolivarian Revolution! Handing over government institutions to the Cubans, and handing over the domestic industrial complex to China? Is that the mission of Chavismo?

  8. I lost respect for the man after I read an article from him a few years ago comparing Al Qaeda with the Tea Party, besides other nonsense like blaming the latter for that hoax called Global Warming.

  9. This is a very revealing article. How many Venezuelans know what Naim describes and how many care? It seems that it matters not who is the governing party is in Venezuela. The Cuban "takeover" is so advanced it will take forever to reverse the situation by any Opposition.


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