The Conversation

Cuba's Role in Stifling Venezuelan Opposition

President Nicolas Maduro's ability to maintain control in Venezuela comes down to his internal intelligence network which keeps an eye and a lid on dissent. That network is heavily assisted by experts sent over from Cuba.

Douglas Farah, who was a foreign correspondent for the Washington Post for 20 years, writes that intelligence services in Venezuela have been riddled with agents from Cuba since an attempted coup in 2002. The Cuban involvement in Venezuela's repressive government is an open secret:

Cuban advisors work in the very highest echelons of the Venezuelan, Bolivian and Ecuadoran executive offices. Cubans train the president’s elite security team and Cubans are a constant presence. In a significant restructure after the 2002 coup, and the Venezuelan intelligence service was remade into the image of is Cuba's feared G2 Intelligence agency, itself based on former East Germany's Stasi network. Venezuela had never developed a professional internal security apparatus, something the Cuban have perfected.

The Cubans are so ubiquitous in the intelligence and military headquarters in Venezuela that they are now strongly resented by many officers in both sectors, according to sources close to the Venezuelan military.

Frances Martel reported the story of two Venezuelan protesters, "21-year-old Juan Manuel Carrasco and 25-year-old Jorge Luis León," who were arrested and held for more than two days. During this time they were beaten and raped by men they say were Cuban:

Carrasco says, he was raped. In the graphic account Carrasco gave to the judge, he says, "They dropped my pants and stuck the barrel of a rifle in my anus." Carrasco says he lost consciousness three times during the episode, but each time was slapped in the face so hard he came back to his senses.  He alleges that the guards who raped him were not Venezuelan, but Cuban: "I could tell from their accents."

This is how dissent is being stifled in Venezuela and these are probably not isolated cases. Hundreds of protesters have been detained and many have reported being beaten and tortured by police. This video report with a protester who was helping track people who were arrested was filmed in Venezuela last week by reporter Mariana Atencio.


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