The Cuban regime and the Venezuelan transition
ARMANDO CHAGUACEDA | Ciudad de México | 12 de Julio de 2017 - 11:16
In a recent interview Venezuelan analyst Rocío San Miguel, an expert on
military affairs, masterfully defined the role of Cuba in his country.
In this respect he stated: "The situation room where the most important
strategic decisions are made —political and military, but also economic
and social— is in Havana. Venezuela is a kind of fish bowl, a case
study, subject to permanent oversight by the Cuban leadership, to
maintain Venezuela as its economic lifesaver. Everything we are
witnessing at this time - among other things, the disproportionate use
of force - the accelerated partisanization of the National Armed Forces,
as well as this proposed Constituent Assembly, completely disgraceful
and spurious, is based on a Cuban model."
This kind of influence constitutes an anomaly. Few times in the history
of the Americas —with the exception of the nexus between monarchic Spain
and its Latin American colonies— has a lesser power exercised such
fierce control over a richer one. Combining the influence of
indoctrination (Maduro was educated by the Cuban Communist Party) police
control (including surveillance of Maduro regime elites) and feverish
diplomatic and propaganda activity (through embassies, intellectual
circles and agents of influence) Havana politically holds Caracas as a
sort of allied hostage. Havana needs Venezuelan oil to prop up the
island's economy and governability, as the country is poised for a
changing of the guard at the top.
That is to say: the Cuban regime is, at the same time, both an actor
(given its share of regional and international power) and a model (due
to its institutional design, with its Stalinist roots) for the
autocratic survival of its Venezuelan counterparts. Thus, it is a factor
to be reckoned with in any process for the redemocratization of the
South American nation. And no precedent —not even that of Central
America in the 1980s— offers similar lessons.
The question is whether Raúl Castro will agree, surrendering to the
evidence, to abandon his ally, in the same way that a parasite dares to
abandon the dying host whose fate he refuses to share. Because if anyone
has today a firm grasp of the situation in Venezuela today, it is Cuban
intelligence. But if —and only if— popular mobilization, the regime's
erosion, and international pressure are all sustained, and there are
fruitful political negotiations, perhaps the Cuban and Venezuelan
military will decide that a civil war is not worth it. And that a bad
solution is always better than a good fight.
In Latin America it would be worth learning some lessons from these
events, such as: For our delicate democracies, Cuba may constitute today
a meddling interference as detrimental as the US was during the Cold
War. And the project of a socially progressive state, under the rule of
law, still a pending task in our imbalanced region, is permanently
besieged not only by the impoverishing agenda of the neoliberals, but
also by the influence of the current Cuban model on various
antidemocratic wings of Latin American politics and society.
This article originally appeared in the Mexican newspaper La Razón. It
is published here with the author's permission.
Source: The Cuban regime and the Venezuelan transition | Diario de Cuba