Friday, February 21, 2014

Cuban-Americans - Castros Can't Survive Without Venezuelan Oil

Cuban-Americans: Castros Can't Survive Without Venezuelan Oil
Thursday, 20 Feb 2014 07:27 PM
By David A. Patten

Cuban-American leaders say the violent crackdown by the Venezuelan
strongman, President Nicolas Maduro is being orchestrated from Havana.

They tell Newsmax that Cuban dictators Raul and Fidel Castro are
desperate to avert a disruption in the massive shipments of oil that
their destitute nation receives daily as a gift from their socialist
comrades in Venezuela. The value of the more than 100,000 barrels a day
Havana receives has been estimated at over $5 billion annually.

On Thursday, former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela Otto Reich told
"America's Forum" host John Bachman in an exclusive Newsmax TV interview
that the unrest in Venezuela "absolutely" can spread to Cuba, if those
vital oil subsidies are interrupted.

"The person who agrees with you, the two persons, are named Fidel and
Raul Castro," said Reich, a Cuban-American. "The Cuban economy today is
being kept afloat by Venezuelan subsidies of free oil."

The protests against Maduro's government escalated again Thursday, after
opposition leader Leopoldo López turned himself in to authorities. He is
being held in the Ramo Verde jail in Caracas. On Thursday, his wife
tweeted the message: "Change depends on every one of us. Don't give up!"

The social unrest was so intense Thursday that Reuters reports some
residents have described the Venezuelan city of San Cristobal as a "war

The country was shocked by the shooting death of 22-year-old student
Genesis Carmona. She was struck down by a bullet in the head during a
protest in the city of Valencia.

The links between Cuba and Venezuela are wide ranging. By some
estimates, as many as 50,000 Cubans live and work in Venezuela.

Many of them are doctors, nurses, and teachers. The Castros ostensibly
offer their services in exchange for the oil their country so
desperately needs.

But Cuban-American author and commentator Humberto Fontova tells Newsmax
that at least half of the Cubans in Venezuela are "intelligence and
police specialists who were trained by the KGB."

He adds the Cuban regime is trying to tamp down the protests to ensure
its oils supplies are protected.

"Essentially, they will not be able to survive without those subsidies,"
Fontova tells Newsmax.

Asked how much control he thinks the Castro brothers have over the
Maduro government, Fontova replied "I think it's total."

Fontova has written several books on Cuba, including "The Longest
Romance: The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro."

Regarding Maduro's relationship with the Castros, he said: "[Opposition
leader] Leopoldo López obviously knows a lot more about that than I do.
And the day before he surrendered to authorities he said, 'Come grab me
Maduro. Are you afraid to arrest me? Or are you waiting for your orders
from Havana?'"

Even if the oil spigot from Venezuela to Cuba shut off tomorrow, Fontova
says, it would probably still take a couple years for Cuban society to
deteriorate to the point where the stability of the regime would be

He blames President Obama's loosening of travel and other restrictions
for propping up Castro's Cuba. The policies allow an estimated $4
billion a year to flow into its economy, he says.

According to Fontova, 500,000 visitors traveled from the United States
to Cuba last year. Only about 200,000 Americans visited the island each
year in the 1950s before Castro took over, he said.

Cuba's economy has continued to decay ever since Fidel Castro took
power. In January, the Heritage Index of Economic Freedom ranked Cuba
just one spot away from a dead last ranking for countries with the least

The only country worse for freedom, Heritage reported, was North Korea.
Venezuela wasn't much better, ranking just four slots from the bottom.

Fontova and other Cuban-Americans want to see the administration take
advantage of the unrest in Venezuela to tighten the screws. U.S. Rep.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla, is calling on President Obama to reduce oil
imports from Venezuela by at least 10 percent.

"President Obama has already loop-holed the so-called embargo half to
death," he said. Because of that flow of U.S. dollars, a complete
economic collapse "would be a long-term thing."

"It might take a couple of years," he tells Newsmax. "It pains me to say
that.… They're still getting that gigantic lifeline from the U.S. in the
form of remittances."

Ros-Lehtinen told Newsmax's Bachman on Thursday that the Obama
administration is not being as assertive with Venezuela as it has been
in the Ukraine, where protests unrelated to those in Venezuela continue
to rage.

"It's a shame that that same statement is not being made to help the
peaceful student protesters in Venezuela where they have also taken to
the streets and they are unarmed and the police and the Cuban forces,
with the Venezuelan forces, are beating them," said Ros-Lehtinen.

Fontova adds that Maduro is "undoubtedly" a puppet of the Castro regime.

"I don't think they want to make [Leopoldo López] a martyr," he said. "I
think what they want to do is keep this thing quiet and just kind of
muddle it through. Because any major disruption would disrupt that flow
of oil."

Source: Cuban-Americans: Castros Can't Survive Without Venezuelan Oil -

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