Cuba-Venezuela-Maduro

Author: David R. Kotok, Post Date: February 25, 2019
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Bandera_de_Venezuela_en_el_Waraira_Repano by Jonathan Alvarez C

This video below is a 1 minute clip of the border of Venezuela in case you missed it. We originally discovered the clip at the Guardian’s website: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/23/venezuela-border-latest-maduro-guaido


 

“Maduro is holding on to power through corruption, blackmail, ruthless repression – and assistance from other states. Cuban advisors have micromanaged the destruction of the private economy and creation of a police state backed by armed gangs. Russian weapons and Chinese financing bolster the regime’s anti-democratic agenda. Colombian narco-terrorists and Hezbollah operate in Venezuela with the regime’s complicity.” (https://www.aei.org/publication/trump-is-getting-it-right-on-venezuela-in-fact-he-needs-to-double-down/)

Most observers believe Maduro’s dictatorship collapses soon. Millions of Venezuelan expatriates eagerly hope for his demise. Millions in the country starve or face military oppression and death. For a brief history of popular opposition to Maduro in the years 2014 to present, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venezuelan_protests_(2014%E2%80%93present).

Attempted theft of national treasures and central bank gold by Maduro’s thugs has been underway. This plundering has been gradually stymied by a growing alliance of countries like the members of the Lima Group. (See https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/venezuela/article223932475.html.)

US policy is clearly focused on full regime change. On the Maduro issue, most people support the policy decision of the Trump administration. I’m one of those.

What worries me most is the new Cuban government under president Miguel Díaz-Canel. The newer generation in Havana wants to open up and develop peaceful economic and social exchanges with Americans. I’ve seen this with my own eyes on two trips to Cuba. The younger, welcoming Cuban entrepreneurs carefully avoid clashing with their Castro-era elders. Those younger folks are vibrant, multilingual, friendly, and vigilant. I’ve met hundreds of them. I like the folks I’ve met in Cuba, and not just in Havana but also in other, smaller cities and the countryside.

So what lies ahead for Cuba is very dependent now on decisions made at the top of the Cuban government. On the negative side, a Cuban alliance with Maduro is devastating for Cuba. If they give him asylum, it gets worse. If they continue to support him, the consequences also worsen.

Can Cuban leaders bring themselves to cut the Maduro link and abandon his dictatorship? They don’t have to abandon the Cuba-Venezuela country-to-country alliance. It is the snake at the top in Venezuela who will see his own head cut off. Cuba can leave the snake alone.

If it does, strong pro-Cuba support will come from those Americans who promote peaceful opening up of relations with Cubans and the new government. But if that government continues to stand with Maduro, it invites the wrath of the Lima Group, and the leadership of the anti-Cuba movement will start in Washington and be enhanced in Miami by the old-guard Rubio-led political forces. (See https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/venezuela/article223932475.html.

So what will it be? Either Cuba has a wake-up call and quits Maduro and 11 million Cubans benefit while Cuba-US relations can thaw and flourish, or Cuba stays with Maduro and condemns itself to another “special period” akin to what happened when Soviet support for Cuba collapsed. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Periodakin.)

The choice is in Havana’s hands. Time is fleeting.

For an excellent photo essay about the recent Global Interdependence Center (GIC) delegation’s visit to Cuba, see this link and appreciate the marvelous efforts of Barry Shapiro: https://www.interdependence.org/blog/global-interdependence-center-havana-cuba-initiative/. See also GIC Executive Director Jill Fornito’s account of our visit: https://www.interdependence.org/blog/mi-casa-es-su-casa-exploring-havanas-paladares/.

David R. Kotok
Chairman and Chief Investment Officer
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