cuban intelligence in venezuela

cuban intelligence in venezuela

This would certainly be a big game changer and the consequences for Cuban intelligence would be more than challenging. In May, the Administration imposed new sanctions on Cuba that included a ban on all U.S. travel to the island.Earlier in the spring, the Trump Administration allowed U.S. citizens to sue any entity or person found to be “trafficking” in property that was expropriated from U.S. citizens after the 1959 revolution. “La Piedrita”is one of the most dangerous para-military groups responsible for violent actions in the Caracas area. In other words, they would become an actor in the ensuing power struggle and it would be naïve not to expect the intervention of other intelligence agencies.

In fact, Cuban military and intelligence personnel backed two forcible attempts to provoke regime change in Caracas through the instigation of an armed popular uprising. Through its intelligence apparatus, Cuba has achieved a disproportionate amount of multidimensional influence on Venezuela. In effect, they need to be understood as a substantial force multiplier. Tellingly, even the prospect of a hypothetical confederation to formally unite Cuba and Venezuela was also discussed, the underlying assumption of which would be the perception that the national interests of both countries were to be seen as identical regardless of whether that was politically and strategically valid. Furthermore, with the assistance of Cuban agents, the Venezuelan intelligence community ­– including both its civilian and military branches – was remodeled and purged of officials deemed ‘counterrevolutionary.’ It has even been claimed that Cuban specialists were active in the Venezuelan presidential situation room, involved in tasks related to protecting the regime and monitoring relevant political developments. Last but not least, Cuban intelligence supported the military involvement of the country’s armed forces in extra-regional operational theatres such as Angola, Vietnam, and even the Middle East during the Yom Kippur War. At a first glance, it would seem that – based on classical international relations scholarship referents when it comes to assessing national power such as population, territory, natural resources, and sheer economic size – Venezuela is the senior partner. It is known that the Cuban intelligence community recruits promising college students, especially from social science programs. Interestingly, according to eyewitness accounts, in a probable attempt to take advantage of his superstitious streak, his immediate entourage even includes Cuban witch doctors who practice Santería, a syncretic Afro-Cuban esoteric religion. Their influence would be compromised if the next Venezuelan government does not share the Bolivarian agenda. As any seasoned intelligence will discern, perhaps the substantial role those priests play is more worldly than spiritual. Likewise, the Administration imposed limits on the amounts of money that Cuban Americans can send to their relatives living in Cuba. He is the author of the book, "Latin America in the Post-Chavez Era: The Security Threat to the United States." In this context of growing polarization, a major turning point took place: The Cuban presence in Venezuela’s strategic circles was enhanced. Such a topic is important considering its deep geopolitical implications. The role of Cuba is becoming more and more important for the survival of Maduro and his cronies as dissidence and criticism among members of the military and political elite is becoming more and more significant. However, several scenarios need to be envisaged, along with their implications for the field of intelligence. Nevertheless, prolonged economic distress could endanger the political survival of the Castro regime. Nevertheless, a Cuban request for economic assistance was rejected by Caracas. With the demise of Fidel Castro in 2016 and the uncertain fate of Venezuela, Cuba proceeded to normalize diplomatic relations with the United States under Barack Obama’s administration. In addition to the Cubans, the Russians are helping the Maduro government. This motivated an attempt to remove Chavez from power. In other words, the strategic relation – in matters of security, intelligence and military affairs – had become profoundly asymmetric, to say the least. Another aspect worth emphasizing is that Cuban intelligence has not just assumed a defensive position. It is arguably one of Cuba’s biggest geostrategic accomplishments. Maybe such suspicions were not unsubstantiated after all. Aside from cultural common denominators and geographic proximity, Venezuela’s energy resources are attractive from Havana’s perspective. Actually, it has been remarkably active abroad for decades. According to conventional wisdom, effective foreign intelligence capabilities are usually associated with great powers. Furthermore, a heavy ideological ingredient promotes a strong morale. For instance, it supported several Marxist insurgencies in Central and South America during the Cold War.

There might have been a genuine mutual sympathy between them but geopolitics is ultimately ruled by impersonal forces. Dr. Luis Fleischman is a Senior Adviser to the Menges Hemispheric Security Project at the Center for Security Policy in Washington DC.

Much has been said about the behavior of Venezuela’s Bolivarian regime, its evolving character, its dramatic economic mismanagement, and the impact it has projected throughout the American hemisphere, including its bilateral ties to Cuba. His Castroist ideological formation, his lack of a charismatic leadership comparable to that of his predecessor, and his background as a militant rather than as a career politician – let alone a statesman – raise reasonable doubts, especially considering Cuban intelligence might have regarded him as somebody that could be easily manipulated. This problem, largely ignored overthe last 20 years, is an ongoing one. However, it is impossible to ascertain the extent of the role played by the Cubans in the selection of Nicolas Maduro. Moreover, the role of Cuban intelligence services cannot be neglected. President Trump should use his leverage with Vladimir Putin to urge Russia to stop arming Venezuela. It would hardly be the first time that religion is used as a conduit to undertake espionage. Such Cuban activities are likely to encourage “Venezuelanization” of other regimes in the region such as Nicaragua and Bolivia. The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, has urged the Trump Administration to increase pressureon Maduro, with special emphasis on the “Cuban factor”. Hence, the Cuban state started investing in the career of an ideological friend that one day could reach an important position. All of the above shows that the regime will not be defeated easily unless their lives are made to be areal hell. The Bolivarian regime started providing economic support for Havana, including the supply of oil under very privileged conditions, even though the global price of oil was sharply rising back then. On July 19th, a Venezuelan war plane manufactured in Russia aggressively chased an American plane, endangering the crew and the aircraft. At the same time, it is important to establish contacts with the military to encourage rebellion against their superiors. Hence, a solution needed to be found and preferably before discontent could fuel unrest or worse. United States Southern Command issued a statement via twitter pointing out that “this action demonstrates Russia’s irresponsible military support of Maduro’s regime,which undermines the international rule of law and efforts to counter illicit trafficking”. However, the increasingly radical and intransigent position assumed by the Bolivarian government alienated several sectors of Venezuelan society, including the middle classes, the local business community, and – more importantly – some factions of the country’s top military echelons and the intelligence apparatus, who were deeply distrustful of Cuban influence because of the aforementioned historical precedents.

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