The booming bilateral relations between Cuba and Venezuela have raised concerns in the South American country and in the region, due to the influence Havana could exert over Nicolás Maduro, experts say.
Hugo Chávez’s rise to power in 1999 meant a qualitative and quantitative leap for Cuban-Venezuelan relations, says expert in international affairs Carlos Luna. This was especially the case in the oil sector. Luna says that with the Maduro regime the relationship has grown and diversified in several areas of society.
“Cuba has provided advice not only in terms of professors, in terms of sports and of people who have come to advise the Venezuelan public administration, but also with military participation — a participation in terms of intelligence, which has infiltrated the civil service, which means that we should be talking about a Cuban occupation,” the expert told Voice of America (VOA).
That is evidenced by the strengthening of relations with Havana. In late January, the Venezuelan regime called for the inclusion of the Cuban ambassador in Caracas in meetings of the executive cabinet.
“The ambassadors, who are practically part of the cabinet, the Cuban ambassador here, needs to have open doors in each ministry to coordinate, revitalize, move forward,” Maduro said.
This decision will affect the country in a negative way, community activist Luis Marques told VOA.
“This is high treason, a betrayal of the citizenry, and when they tell us that we are betrayers of the homeland for demanding democracy, in fact they are the ones giving the country away,” Marques said.
The Maduro regime’s Economy Vice President Tareck El Aissami said that more than 1,400 projects have been signed in recent years in different areas of bilateral cooperation, and that these will surely continue to increase.
Amid this controversy, the country’s Interim President Juan Guaidó, who went on an international trip in late January, said that Cuba “is also responsible for the crisis in Venezuela.”
“We have denounced Cuba’s ongoing interference in the Venezuelan State and the Armed Force,” he added.