Cuba continues support for Maduro, despite global condemnation

World Today

Many global leaders are denouncing the constituent assembly and calling Maduro a dictator.

But the government still has supporters.

One is Cuba, whose economy and political atmosphere strongly aligns with Caracas.

CGTN’s Michael Voss reports from Havana as part of our special series, Venezuela Divided.

In his televised address to the summer session of Cuba’s National Assembly, President Raul Castro blamed Venezuela’s problems on outside interference.

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is suffering a non-conventional war imposed by the imperialists and oligarchs,” he exclaimed.

Venezuela’s former leader Hugo Chavez considered Cuba’s Fidel Castro his political mentor and helped stabilize Cuba’s economy following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Cuba provided doctors and other professionals, which Venezuela paid for in oil.

The arrangement continues under President Nicolas Maduro. But with the economic crisis in Venezuela, oil shipments are 60 percent lower than 10 years ago, forcing energy-saving measures across the island.

When asked if Cuba has a Plan B in case something happens in Venezuela, Omar Everleny, a Cuban economist, said yes.

“Cuba has had various plans, because the problems with Venezuela didn’t begin yesterday. But all the alternative plans mean paying in cash and that’s a big problem,” he said.

Chavez also set up the oil alliance Petrocaribe. It provides subsidized oil to many other Caribbean islands that would also suffer if supplies came to an end.

At recent meetings of the Organization of American States, many of the Caribbean nations have sided with Venezuela. And Cuba has been diplomatically active in rallying international support, though for Cuba, it’s not just about oil.

“The Maduro government is one of the most important political states in the region that have a revolutionary attitude, an attitude very similar to Cuba,” explains Carlos Alzugaray, a political analyst.

“When you have the offensive that cut down Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, when you have the Kirchners being kicked out of power in Argentina, it’s very important for Cuba that Maduro be kept in his place.”

Raul Castro is due to step down as president early next year. A change in government in Caracas could make a stable transition here that much more difficult to achieve.