The Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba published a report this week detailing the alarming extent to which the communist Cuban regime has entrenched itself in Venezuela, controlling every government function, from the nation’s failing health care system to dictator Nicolás Maduro’s private security.
Reproduced in the Cuban-American outlet Martí Noticias, the NGO’s report, authored by Roberto Alvarez Quiñones, warns that the violent and increasingly oppressive political situation in Venezuela cannot be resolved without severing ties between Caracas and Havana. He notes that tens of thousands of Cuban soldiers, military officials, doctors, and bureaucrats keep the Venezuelan government functioning and help train the Venezuelan military, which in turn stands accused of myriad human rights abuses against peaceful protesters.
“Without the direct tutelage of Raúl Castro, his military junta, the Communist Party of Cuba, the Revolutionary Armed Forces, and the entire intelligence and counterintelligence apparatus of the Castro … the government of Maduro would have succumbed already,” Alvarez argues.
He couches his conclusion in the sheer number of Cuban agents operating in Venezuela: three generals, 12 colonels/lieutenant colonels, six frigate captains, and 25 other military officials, for starters. Alvarez estimates that there are nine battalions worth of Cuban foot soldiers doing the bidding of these officials, a total of at least 4,500 troops occupying Venezuela. To these Alvarez adds “over 34,000 doctors and Cuban health professionals with orders to defend the tyranny with firearms.”
“Thousands of other Cubans play key roles” in the bureaucracy and in the nation’s intelligence services, he adds, noting that the Cuban government controls Maduro’s personal security team.
Alvarez is far from the first to note that the Cuban regime has essentially colonized Venezuela, entrenching itself in every facet of government power. “There are currently about 15,000 Cubans in Venezuela,” Organization of American States (OAS) chief Luis Almagro told the U.S. Congress last month. “It’s like an occupation army from Cuba in Venezuela.”
Diego Arria, a former U.N. Security Council chief, told Breitbart News in May that he estimated 50,000 Cuban agents, including civilians, had established themselves in Venezuela. “This is more than the number of forces that Spain had occupying Venezuela during our war of independence. I am not saying that these 50,000 Cubans are all soldiers, but thousands of them are trained for these ends,” he noted. “How do you remove that simply with an election replacing one government with another?”
Given Cuba’s vested interest in keeping Maduro in power, the communist regime has been among the most vocal supporters of Maduro’s July 30 election to establish the “national constituents’ assembly” (ANC), an illegal law making body Maduro created to usurp the power of the democratically elected National Assembly. In remarks this week, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez issued his “congratulations” to Venezuela for installing the illegal legislature through a widely condemned fraudulent vote.
“We reiterate all our loyalty” to Venezuela, Rodríguez said. “It is undeniable that the people of Venezuela has [sic] made its voice heard and chosen their path … despite the unconventional war waged against Venezuela, its people have rendered an extraordinary lesson in democracy.”
“Congratulations to the government and people of Venezuela for their extraordinary display of democracy, conviction, loyalty, and valor,” he concluded.
The “extraordinary display of democracy” has elicited near-universal condemnation, including from the electoral technology company that lended its services to the Venezuelan government. Smartmatic officials say they have irrefutable evidence that Venezuelan officials tampered with the number of votes counted in the election.
Rodríguez’s comments came during a regular meeting of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples (ALBA), a radical Marxist regional body Cuba and Venezuela created to counter the influence of the democratic Organization of American States. At the ALBA meeting, those convened called sanctions by the U.S. on Maduro himself and other officials for widespread human rights abuses “a clear violation of international rights and human rights.”
In his study, Alvarez cites Cuban influence as a key concern but adds that Hezbollah terrorists, cocaine traffickers, and assorted international criminals have also found a friend in Caracas, citing reports that Venezuela’s vice president Tareck El Aissami led an effort to provide up to 15,000 authentic Venezuelan passports to Hezbollah members ineligible to get them due to their status as Syrian, Lebanese, and other Mideast nation citizens.