Archive for the ‘Cuba’ Category

The Easter Week Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, April 21st, 2014

LatinAmerYesterday was Easter Sunday, and we celebrate it, and, possibly, Spring.

ARGENTINA
How Argentina’s Default Could Be New York’s Loss
The commercial capital depends on U.S. courts to hold governments to their promises.

Battle over Argentina’s debts heads to Supreme Court

HACER’s Amicus Brief Filed with U.S. Supreme Court

BOLIVIA
Cónsul de Bolivia en Nueva York: Personajes emblemáticos del narcotráfico y la corrupción representan a Bolivia

BRAZIL
The road to Rio… by scooter
Shunning traditional air travel, one England fan has decided to take the scenic route to Brazil for the World Cup – making the journey on a Vespa scooter

Police in Brazil’s Bahia State End Strike
Police in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia on Thursday called off a strike after accepting terms offered by the state government.

CUBA

Easter No. 3 for a Prisoner of Castro
Bearing witness to Cuba’s political persecution costs Sonia Garro her freedom.

MLB’s Next Headache: Cartels, Gangsters, and Their Cuban Superstars
The baseball world has been stunned by reports the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig was smuggled from his homeland by a drug cartel, and a Miami gangster allegedly now owns 20% of his astronomical contract.

Did USAID Wander Into CIA Territory by Running Cuba Op?
A rudimentary Twitter-style app crafted to stoke protests in Cuba is making some on the Hill screech.

HAITI
Housing Effort Said to Lag
A post-earthquake housing program in Haiti financed by the United States Agency for International Development has delivered only a quarter of the planned number of houses.

HONDURAS
US Air Base in Honduras Delivers Supplies to Mountain Village

JAMAICA
Govt’s plan to raise $6.7 billion

LATIN AMERICA
World leaders pay tribute to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Colombian author praised as a literary giant who changed Latin Americans’ thinking, after his death at the age of 87

MEXICO
Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

NICARAGUA
Earthquakes diminish in Nicaragua, but country remains on red alert

PANAMA
The election is scheduled for May 4: Panama’s Seven Presidential Candidates Debate Before Vote.

PARAGUAY
Paraguay Busts International Drug Trafficking Ring

PERU
Thousands evacuated in Peru after volcano warning
Increased activity of Ubinas volcano in southern Peru leads to state of emergency with 4,000 people and their 30,000 animals told to evacuate

PUERTO RICO
Vice: Legalize Prostitution or Marijuana? Puerto Rico Is Looking for Ideas to Solve Debt Crisis

This is What Happens When You Register Your Guns

Salsa legend Cheo Feliciano dies
Puerto Rican salsa singer and composer Cheo Feliciano dies in a car crash in his native island aged 78.

URUGUAY
In pictures: Gauchos at Criolla Week rodeo in Uruguay

VENEZUELA
Maduro [sic] First 365 Days As President Of Venezuela

Venezuela’s Unending Ordeal

Someone in Maduro’s government must be held responsible for the deaths

¿Cómo conquistó Cuba a Venezuela?
La respuesta es Hugo Chávez. Dejar entrar a los cubanos fue la expresión de su poder absoluto

Desde su inicio en 1959, una prioridad de la política exterior del régimen cubano ha sido la creación de vastas redes de apoyo a su causa. Sus servicios de espionaje, su diplomacia, propaganda, ayuda humanitaria, intercambios juveniles, académicos y culturales, y el apoyo en otros países a ONG, intelectuales, periodistas, medios de comunicación y grupos políticos afines han sido pilares básicos de su estrategia internacional. Esto lo hacen todos los países, pero pocos han tenido la necesidad de darle tanta prioridad y durante tanto tiempo como Cuba. La supervivencia económica y política del régimen ha dependido de su éxito en tener aliados en otros países que, a su vez, puedan influir sobre sus gobiernos en apoyo a la isla.

Incitatii Bolivariani

Students add Easter twist to dwindling Venezuela protests

The week’s posts and podcast:
Mexico: 7.5 earthquake on Good Friday had warning

Cuba/Venezuela: $10,000 “melange of Communism” trips

Cuba: The great unwashed, by governmental decree

Venezuela: Inspired by Marx!

Venezuela: No amnesty for jailed opposition

Panama: Martinelli strikes back

Chile: 15 dead in #Valparaiso

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, RIP, with additional comment here.

Mad Men’s somber final season opener

The week’s podcast:
The latest from Colombia plus other US-Latin America stories of the week with Silvio and Cecilia Torres.


Gabriel Garcia Marquez, RIP

Friday, April 18th, 2014

That a human being would waste his prodigious talent in the service of a monstrous dictator after having witnessed such event speaks of a blindness, a void of the soul.

But then, Fidel had gifted García Márquez a fully-furnished mansion in Havana’s best neighborhood (link in Spanish), and a Mercedes, complete with staff, after the 1982 Nobel award was announced.

Read my full post at Da Tech Guy’s blog to find out what event I’m referring to.

While on the subject,

In addition to being Fidel’s pal, Gabo also gave us “Lateeen-ohs” a reputation for being nonsensical and less than rational. His so-called “magical realism” pegged us all as totally out of touch with reality, and tagged us as noble savages — endearing, perhaps, but also annoyingly savage and inferior to rational North Americans and Europeans.

García Márquez also reduced us Puerto Ricans to cultural stereotypes, No se les hable de lógica, pues eso implica razonamiento y mesura y los puertorriqueños son hiperbólicos y exagerados.Don’t speak to them of logic, since that implies reasoning and restraint, and Puerto Ricans are hyperbolic and exaggerated.”

Charming, wasn’t he?

[Note:I am told that the essay on Puerto Ricans was not written by García Márquez. If anyone has the name of the original author, please leave a link in the comments section.]

Check out Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Good Friday meditation on original sin

UPDATE:
In a fellational tribute to Fidel Castro, García Márquez sounds like he wrote copy for Dos Equis in his spare time,

His devotion is to the word. His power is of seduction. He goes to seek out problems where they are. The impetus of inspiration is very much part of his style. Books reflect the breadth of his tastes very well. He stopped smoking to have the moral authority to combat tobacco addiction. He likes to prepare food recipes with a kind of scientific fervour. He keeps himself in excellent physical condition with various hours of gymnastics daily and frequent swimming. Invincible patience. Ironclad discipline. The force of his imagination stretches him to the unforeseen.

And he’s been known to cure insomnia by just walking into a room, yeah.

Cuba/Venezuela: $10,000 “melange of Communism” trips

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Make sure you bring your own soap and toilet paper: “Get up close and personal with the locals that make up the melange of Communism.”

The Sydney Morning Herald calls it ‘Travel for the mind’ with George Negus – Venezuela & Cuba
READER OFFER: With George’s instinctive journalistic interest, this two-country excursion will awaken and engage your mind.

NO SEATS AVAILABLE 

SMH readers are flying to Venezuela for a $10,000 per head socialism celebration while Venezuelans are trying to fly out

“Of course, I’d rather fly,” he said. “But there are no seats available.” Cordova said that he had tried for a month to get a seat on an airplane, to no avail. That’s because the economic policies that have driven him to leave Venezuela have also made it exceedingly hard for people to depart by air.

That’s the “melange of Communism” for you.

Cuba: The great unwashed, by governmental decree

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Michael Totten continues his travel journals,

I heard no end of horror stories about soap shortages, both before and after I got there. A journalist friend of mine who visits Cuba semi-regularly brings little bars of hotel soap with him and hands them out to his interview subjects.

“They break down in tears when I give them soap,” he told me. “How often does that happen?” I said. “A hundred percent of the time,” he said.

I too brought soap with me to the island—full-size bars from the store, not small ones from hotels—but I didn’t want to make people cry wherever I went, so I left them discreetly for hotel staff, waiters, taxi drivers, and so on. And I tipped everyone as generously as I could since the government refuses to pay them.

None of this economic impoverishment is the result of American policy. The United States is hardly the world’s only soap manufacturer, for instance. Cuba can buy it from Mexico. Or Canada. Or the Dominican Republic. Cuba can make its own soap. It fact, it does make its own soap. The reason the country does not have enough is because the government historically hasn’t cared if the little people can’t wash. Soap is just one item among thousands that is strictly for the elite, for the “haves,” and for those lucky enough to find some in the shops before it runs out.

In a non-communist country where such a basic product is in short supply, somebody would mass-produce it and sell it. Soap-making doesn’t require nuclear physics. You can make it at home. Google “soap recipe” and you’ll see how easy it is. But Cuba is a communist country where private commerce is banned. If you make stuff and sell stuff, you might become “rich” and “bourgeois,” and the authorities will send you to prison.

Read the whole thing.

Related:
Condom shortage hits Cuba


The Holy Week Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, April 14th, 2014

LatinAmerIt’s Holy Week, and taxes are due tomorrow – not exactly the most cheerful way to start a week.

ARGENTINA
Federal police launch huge raid on Argentina’s ‘drug capital’
More than 3,000 federal agents involved in raids on around 80 ‘bunkers’ in the Argentine city of Rosario, plagued by violence between drug gangs

YPF, Chevron to Invest $1.6 Billion in 2014 in Argentina’s Vaca Muerta
Both companies will share equally in the investment outlay, which will go toward drilling 170 wells and building production facilities in Loma Campana, Neuquen
. Good luck with that.

Argentina hit by general strike over high inflation and taxes

Metro, train and bus services around the country have been paralysed, as Ignacio de los Reyes reports
Public transport in Argentina has been severely disrupted by a huge nationwide strike against the economic policies of the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

So, of course, Cristina’s trying to create a diversion: UK Falklands military exercises ‘provoke’ Argentina

BOLIVIA
Is There A Connection Between Hillary Clinton’s ‘Shoe-icide’ Attacker And Che Guevara?

But while everyone is talking about the shoe, little is talked about what the woman also threw along with it: a copy of a Department of Defense document labeled confidential and dated August 1967; it referred to an operation “Cynthia” in Bolivia. Operation “Cynthia” was a Bolivian army maneuver to capture Argentinean doctor and Cuban revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

BRAZIL
Brazil’s economic problems cloud 2014 elections
Brazil’s macroeconomic picture poses problems for the country’s 2014 elections, reports Bloomberg’s David Ingles

Fighting breaks out in Rio de Janeiro as police move to clear 5,000 squatters from buildings

Brazil 2014: less than half of country favour hosting World Cup
Just 48 per cent of Brazilians are in support of the country hosting this year’s tournament, which begins in June

CHILE
Fire destroys 500 homes in Valparaiso
Ambulance crews have treated residents for smoke inhalation but so far there have been no deaths

COLOMBIA
Keep FARC leader Timochenko alive for peace?

Colombia has a loose-tongued president.

Yesterday, Juan Manuel Santos told us he knew where FARC commander alias Timochenko is hiding, but claimed he’d “think twice” before ordering a shoot-to-kill.

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica Installs Coastal Radar to Monitor Drug Smuggling

CUBA
Families of Shootdown Victims: No Spies for Gross Exchange

UPDATED | Cuban political prisoner Lamberto Hernández Plana released after 23 years in Castro gulag

French Foreign Minister Visits Cuba
A French foreign minister visited Cuba for the first time in more than 30 years Saturday, traveling to the communist-run nation at a time when it is seeking to attract more foreign investment and improve ties with the European Union.

ECUADOR
It’s what you call a totalitarian democracy: Does Ecuador’s leader aspire to a perpetual presidency?
Ecuador’s constitution bars Rafael Correa from running for the fourth term. But this won’t stop him from seeking reelection if ‘the people’ want it, he hints.

JAMAICA
Entrepreneurs demand ‘respect’ in Jamaica

LATIN AMERICA
Chinese lending to Latin America
Flexible friends
China lends disproportionately to countries that lack other options
and, while on the subject of China, A Pax Sinica in the Middle East? Some Conjectures

Andres Oppenheimer: Latin America’s forecasts may be too rosy

MEXICO
Mexico prepares first illegal drug financing blacklist
Mexico’s cartels launder billions of dollars a year made by shipping illegal drugs to U.S.
with a proviso,

[Mexican Finance Minister Luis] Videgaray said individuals identified by OFAC [the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control], or in a similar list put out by the United Nations, could end up being sanctioned in Mexico but that his administration would not necessarily implement all U.S.-identified targets.

NICARAGUA
Nicaragua Sees Series of Arrow Killings of Dogs using crossbows and custom carbon arrows.

PANAMA
Panama Canal expansion draws bigger customers, and criticism
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal, one of the busiest waterways in the world. A massive building project is underway there to widen it for larger ships, but the expansion has not been undisputed.

PERU
Peru Arrests 24 for Alleged Ties to Shining Path Rebels

Bello
Peru’s Italian job
Economic success cannot indefinitely co-exist with political weakness
The “Italian model” holds that the important thing is that the economy was run by responsible technocrats. How’s that working out?

The real lesson from Italy is that if the political system is unable to act in the long-term interest of the majority, it ends up contaminating the economy with its failures. Peru is a democracy without meaningful parties. A regional election in October is likely to repeat the last one, in which 23 of the 25 regional presidents were independents. Thanks to mining and gas royalties, they command a big chunk of public money. One important region, Áncash, has become a mafia mini-state. Ten political opponents of the regional president, César Álvarez, have been murdered after denouncing corruption. His critics accuse Mr Álvarez, who denies all wrongdoing, of having bought off prosecutors. This month Mr Humala froze Áncash’s bank accounts.

It always amazes me that countless “models” – the Danish model, the Swedish model, etc. – are held as examples worth emulating in Latin America, instead of free market capitalism.

PUERTO RICO
Vatican Clears Puerto Rico Bishop Daniel Fernandez in Abuse Case

URUGUAY
Uruguay to make medical marijuana available to prisoners
Any inmates who have been prescribed marijuana to improve their physical or mental health will have access to it according to the country’s drug tsar

VENEZUELA
Venezuela: sector de la oposición rechaza diálogo

Venezuela Update: Violence, protests and … talks?

Massive repression against protestors in Venezuela by security forces of Cuba-backed dictatorship

Venezuela’s Protest Movement Fights The Ghost Of Chavez
The legacy of Hugo Chavez hangs over Venezuela — and the country’s protest leaders are having a hard time bringing his followers into their fold.
Especially with the armed motorcycle gangs threatening them.

Venezuela’s old men have a dialogue

Venezuela gives Cuba three aircraft to transport Raúl Castro
The aircrafts –two Dassault Falcon 50 and one Falcon 900– are worth some USD 100-110 million

The week’s posts and podcast:
Venezuela: No food in the shops, but 3 jets for Raul

El libro que hay que leer: En español: Infobae entrevista a Casto Ocando, autor de Chavistas en el Imperio

And now for a Venezuela roundup

Ecuador: Rafael Correa at Yale UPDATED

Brazil: Airports not ready yet

Mexico: en español, Terapia Intensiva 203

Mike Hammer goes to Chile

New book: Chavistas en el Imperio

Cuba: Alan Gross on hunger strike – later Gross ends hunger strike in Cuba

At Da Tech Guy:
Bye-bye, Elementary

Cuba’s American hostage

Podcast:
Dr Gross in Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador & US-Latin America stories of the week


Venezuela: No food in the shops, but 3 jets for Raul

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

It’s a matter of priorities, people!


I can fly higher than an eagle,
’cause you are the wind beneath my wings
.

Venezuela gives Cuba three aircraft to transport Raúl Castro
The aircrafts –two Dassault Falcon 50 and one Falcon 900– are worth some USD 100-110 million

The aircraft –two Dassault Falcon 50 and one Falcon 900– are worth some USD [$]100-110 million, and are regularly used for transporting ministers and even Cuban President Raúl Castro, sources said as reported by the Miami Herald reported.

Cuba’s American hostage

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

My latest article at Da Tech Guy’s, Cuba’s American hostage, Alan P. Gross.

Cuba: Alan Gross on hunger strike

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Very bad news:
Alan P. Gross, the American who’s been in prison for over four years, has started a hunger strike.

Gross, 63, had already lost over 100lbs and has a large lump growing on his back, which under the “excellent free healthcare” Cubans endure are considered “chronic illnesses that are typical of his age.” He said in a statement (h/t Babalu)

that he was frustrated by the continued lack of effort by the U.S. government to orchestrate his release.

“I am fasting to object to mistruths, deceptions, and inaction by both governments, not only regarding their shared responsibility for my arbitrary detention, but also because of the lack of any reasonable or valid effort to resolve this shameful ordeal,” Gross said in a statement released by his attorney. “Once again, I am calling on President Obama to get personally involved in ending this stand-off so that I can return home to my wife and daughters.”

In practical terms, the Cuban government is holding Gross hostage over the release of the Cuban Five, men convicted in federal court on espionage charges. Two of the men have been released from prison and returned to Cuba.

Sen. Bob Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke about Gross on the Senate floor,

“And the clock is ticking for Alan Gross. On December 4th, 2009, Alan Gross, a private sub-contractor for the U.S. government, working to bring information to the Cuban people, was arrested in Cuba. Mr. Gross is a 64-year old development professional who worked in dozens of countries around the world with programs to help people get access to basic information.

“Since 2009, he has been detained in Villa Marista – a prison in Havana notorious for its treatment of political prisoners by the Cuban National Security Agency. This is not a minimum security prison where foreigners are routinely held. It is a harsh, repressive prison –reserved for Cuban dissidents.

“He is still being held at Villa Marista, and so I come to the floor to urge my colleagues – indeed, to urge the Administration – to do all it can to free Mr. Gross, and keep pressure on the Castro regime.

“After serving four years of a 15 year sentence, this 64 year old American’s mental health is reported to be deteriorating and his life may well be in danger.

“The case of Alan Gross is only one example of why we cannot let up until the dead weight of this oppressive regime is lifted – once and for all — from the backs of 11 million Cubans living on that island nation, isolated from the world.”

Gross’ situation is desperate.

Related:
A Cuban immigrant to Ecuador attempted suicide when denied entry.

Castro’s “Murder, Inc.”

UPDATE:
Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!

The Juan Boria Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Juan Boria was an Afro-Puerto Rican poet, teacher and actor whose joyful performances on television I used to watch when I was a child growing up on the island. You couldn’t not have fun listening to him, even if sometimes you didn’t understand the words. I dedicate this Carnival to him, in thanks for the delightful moments his work still brings us. I have not found any YouTubes videos of his performances, only of his audios. Here’s one:

ARGENTINA
Argentina’s economy
Creeping toward normality

BRAZIL
Which Path Will Brazil Choose?

CHILE
Big Earthquake In Chile, Not Many Killed

COLOMBIA
Vote for peace, vote for Santos?

COSTA RICA
The election results are a given, after the challenger stopped campaigning – he’s still in the ballot, though (video in Spanish)

CUBA
AP Considers Twitter “Subversive” — for Cubans

ECUADOR
Chevron Takes Battle To Radical Environmentalist Lobby

JAMAICA
‘Ganga Future Growers’: Pot-growers group launched in Jamaica

MEXICO
Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez admitted to hospital in Mexico City
Colombian author, whose works have outsold everything in the Spanish language except the Bible, is being treated for lung and urinary infections

PANAMA
Mexico, Panama sign free-trade pact

PERU
Visit Choquequirao, Peru
Explore Peru’s famous Incan ruins in the lesser-known but still breathtaking city of Choquequirao.

PUERTO RICO
Ft. Hood: Puerto Rico friends, family of Ivan Lopez shocked

URUGUAY
Move aside, president of Uruguay: We have a new ‘poorest world leader’. He’s still the worst-shod, though.

VENEZUELA

Spain Halts Sale of Riot Gear to Caracas
Madrid Seeks to Avoid Fanning Violence, As 200,000 Spaniards Reside in Venezuela

30 Spaniards have been arrested by forces loyal to the socialist administration of President Nicolás Maduro.

(Related: Who Is Killing Venezuela’s Protesters?
New evidence suggests that Chávez recruited today’s political militia from among the army.
)

Are Race and Class at the Root of Venezuela’s Political Crisis?

Killing dissent? One of Leopoldo López’s aides, and the brother-in-law of an opposition mayor have been murdered. Matan a allegado de Leopoldo López y a cuñado de alcalde opositor
Un allegado del líder opositor venezolano Leopoldo López y un cuñado del alcalde del municipio caraqueño de Sucre, Carlos Ocariz, fueron asesinados en un parque de Caracas, se informó el domingo.

GM Takes $400 Million Loss in Venezuela as Ford Loses $350 Million

Crash dummy policies

NEWS FROM VENEZUELA

The Market For Common Sense

Caracas chaos: Venezuelan general [Antonio Rivero] on the run
Death in the streets, rationing by fingerprints and a general on the run: how oil-rich Venezuela has descended into chaos

NYT Gives Print Op-ed Space to Venezuela’s Maduro, Ignores Growing Repression

The week’s posts:
Ecuador: Pass the Ketchum

Annals of Papal gift-giving, UPDATED

Venezuela; about that Maduro op-ed in the NYT, UPDATED

We interrupt our blogging on Latin America to bring you the latest on Putin

Vargas Llosa going to Venezuela

Ecuador: Looking for fools wanting to part with their money

#SOSVenezuela: Testing Venezuela’s sincerity

The Most Interesting Man in the World has spoken,

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
What Eich means

A makeover for . . . cream cheese?


Venezuela: How Hugo Chávez turned the country over to Cuba UPDATED

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Cuba and Venezuela’s disproportionate relationship:
Cristina Marcado of Spain’s ABC.es writes about the disproportionate relationship in Las relaciones desmedidas (article in Spanish – my translation):

  • It all started with 29 agents who arrived in 1997 to help Hugo Chávez 
  • Now thousands of Cubans work and control Venezuela’s public administration
  • Not allowed to have Venezuelan friends.

Thousands of Cubans currently work in Venezuela’s public administration. In the presidency, ministries and state enterprises. As bureaucrats, doctors, nurses, dentists, scientists, teachers, programmers, analysts, farm technicians, electricians, laborers, and cultural collaborators. Also in security, intelligence, and, including, the Armed Forces.

Most of them also belong to the militia. “In Venezuela we have over 30,000 Cuban cederristas from the 8.6 million members of our organization,” Juan José Rabilero, then-chief of Cuba’s Committees for the Defense of the Revolution [Comités de Defensa de la Revolución, or CDR, from which the word for its members, cederristas, originates] disclosed in 2007 during a public event in the state of Táchira, in western Venezuela. There is no reason to believe this number has decreased. Nearly 70% of Cuba’s population belongs to this system of vigilance and denunciation.

The Cubans manage Venezuela’s ID system, its identity cards and passports; its mercantile registries and oublic notaries. They also know who owns what properties and what transactions they conduct. They also jointly manage its ports and maintain a presence at the airports and immigration control, where they do as they please. The Cuban organization Albet, SA, of the Universidad de Ciencias Informáticas (Information Sciences University, or UCI), which manages the systems for the SAIME (which translates to Management Service for Identification, Immigration and Foreigners), is so powerful that it does not allow Venezuelans access to the top floor of SAIME headquarters in Caracas. The computer systems for the presidency, ministries, social services, police, and state oil company PDVSA are also Cuban, run by the Guardián del Alba joint venture.

The name of the article, Las relaciones desmedidas (Disproportionate Relations) refers to the ban on friendships with Venezuelans.

This is a must-read.

UPDATE:
Linked to by Extrano’s Alley and Babalu. Thank you!

UPDATE 2:
Capitol Hill Cubans translated also,

According to the latest official figures, in mid-2012, in Venezuela there were a total of 44,804 collaborators in so-called social missions; 31,700 in health care (11,000 doctors, 4,931 nurses, 2,713 dentists, 1,245 optometrists and 11,544 non-specified), 6,225 in sports, 1,905 in culture, 735 in agricultural activities, 486 in education and 54 in handicapped services. Yet, it is believed the actual numbers could be double. There are no officials statistics regarding those who work in the electricity sector, construction, information technology and security advisers to the government, among others.

“The Cuban doctors are sent in a form of modern slavery,” according to the NGO, Solidarity Without Frontiers.

Retired General Antonio Rivero, a former Chavez collaborator, assures that there are currently more than 100,000 Cubans in Venezuela, among them 3,700 in the intelligence services, the G2. “Just in security and defense, we estimate there are around 5,600 of them.” And he confirms that there are Cubans in the most important military bases in the country. “In the Armed Forces, there are some 500 active Cuban military officers serving as advisers in strategic areas, such as intelligence, weaponry, communications and military engineering. Also, in operations and in the office of the Minister of Defense, which has a permanent Cuban adviser with the rank of General.”

According to Rivero, which served chief of communications for the presidency and was the national director of Civil Protection, the presence of Havana goes back to 1997, when 29 undercover Cuban agents established operations in Margarita and in 1998 helped Chavez’s electoral campaign with intelligence, security and information technology.