Vice President Jorge Arreaza announced yesterday that the communist Cuban government was “here to stay” in Venezuela: “to raise a flag against the Cuban Revolution… is an insult to the wellbeing of the Venezuelan people,” Arreaza claimed, as opposition leaders fight the increased colonization of their country by the Castro regime.
Arreaza has begun a campaign to smear the Venezuelan opposition as racists, claiming that opposition leaders like political prisoner Leopoldo López want to “burn Cubans alive,” reports Argentine outlet Infobae. “The internationalism of the Cuban Revolution taught us a lesson, and we thank them for that,” the Vice President said yesterday. “They are not going anywhere, they are an integral part of the Venezuelan people,” Arreaza added, referring in particular to the thousands of Cuban doctors forced to work for little to no salary in Venezuelan hospitals. He added that the opposition does not understand “the reference point, the light, the sun that the Cuban Revolution has been for us to understand how we should do it.”
The Cuban government benefits greatly from the natural resources that President Nicolás Maduro’s regime provides for free. Cuba, Infobae notes, received 100,000 barrels of oil from Venezuela per day. In exchange, Cuba provides doctors, soldiers, and assorted “technicians.” Many of those associated with the Bolivarian National Guard, Maduro’s defense forces responsible for hundreds of human rights violations, are Cuban, easily identifiable by their distinctive accent in citizen journalist videos uploaded to YouTube.
Arreaza has not only acknowledged the fact that acrimony exists between Cuban oppressors in Venezuela and the democratic opposition, but has distorted the tension to be unilateral on the part of the opposition. In a speech yesterday, Arreaza claimed that opposition leaders wanted to “burn alive” Cuban doctors:
Given the close nature of the relationship between the Chavista government and Cuban informants, the distrust is warranted. According to a Washington Post report, Cuban communist intelligence agents routinely train Venezuelan agents and soldiers. Their methods of repression — from mass arrests to torture to liberal use of tear gas — have deep historical ties to the behavior of the Castro dictatorship. One dissident protester, who was arrested and allegedly raped with a rifle, identified his assailants as Cubans. Venezuelan and Cuban accents are sufficiently different that almost any words overheard can identify the speaker’s nationality.
Opponents of the Maduro regime have, indeed, spoken up against communist Cuba. General Ángel Vivas, a longtime dissident who currently lives in his home as a fugitive from the Venezuelan government protected by his neighbors, encourages dissidents to “resist Cuban invasion and the traitors that support it,” and calls the Cuban flag “the flag of our worst enemy.” Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado has repeatedly called upon Cuba to “stop interfering in the internal affairs of Venezuela.”
Overwhelmingly, however, student protesters on Twitter have made efforts to distinguish between the Cuban government and the Cuban people. “Cuban doctors on missions to Venezuela are not mercenaries, they are the victims of Castrism that seek freedom and economic improvement,” writes one. “When we say ‘the Cubans’ are causing great damage to Venezuela, we mean the government of Cuba,” writes another, “the people of that country are victims, too.” One widely retweeted image among anti-socialist protesters depicts a man holding a sign that says “We Cubans are not all Chavistas — Long Live Free Cuba and Venezuela.”
The recent efforts to depict the opposition as racist against anyone outside of the higher economic strata of that country is a continuation of a greater effort by Maduro to convince the international community to look away from his state-sponsored violence. In a column published in the New York Times, Maduro diminished the protests as coming from “the top 1%” of the country, despite all statistics disproving this lie.