Some Cubans on official missions in Venezuela are spooked – especially the Cubans deployed here on military, intelligence and other security-related activities. Moreover, the Cubans in Venezuela have good reasons to be worried because they are potentially very deep inside the hurt locker.
Much speculation has surrounded the recent visit to Venezuela of Havana’s hatchet man, Ramiro Valdes. But hardly anyone noticed that Ricardo Alarcon, president of the Cuban National Assembly since 1993 and one of the toughest hard men of the Cuban regime, visited Caracas in December 2009 to assess the situation in Venezuela.
Caracas Gringo is told that Alarcon was very alarmed by what he found. Reportedly, when Alarcon returned to Havana he told the Castro brothers and their top military/security cadres that President Chavez has lost control of the situation and Venezuela has become ungovernable.
Chavez is determined to remain in power forever at any cost.
Havana is determined to deepen/expand its power in Venezuela at any cost – including the elimination of Chavez.
Without the economic/energy lifeline from Caracas, the weakened Cuban regime might finally implode. The Castro brothers know that time will soon transform them into moldering compost. But there are many senior Cuban regime figures who think they have a chance of keeping their hold on power in a post-Castro scenario. But without the Bolivarian economic lifeline from Caracas, their chances of survival in power in Havana are very slight.
The question that some people in Havana and Caracas are pondering now is whether Chavez is more useful as a dead martyr, or as a failed revolutionary leader sidelined by a “new” generation of Bolivarian capos. Will Chavez be the sacrificial scapegoat of Cubazuela, or will he be “retired” for health-related reasons?
The problem is that Chavez is the Bolivarian revolution’s brand. What is left if the “brand” is erased? Imagine Apple or Toyota without the brand name makes them instantly recognizable and enhances the perceived value of their respective products anywhere in the world.
Chavez always warns that there is no chavismo, and no Bolivarian revolution, without Chavez. However, after 11-plus years in power the Chavez brand is badly damaged – perhaps beyond any possibility of rebranding. Can the Bolivarian revolution survive without Chavez in the presidency?
Many people close to Chavez physically are weighing that question right now, including among others Ali Rodriguez Araque and Jose Vicente Rangel, both of whom are longtime Havana henchmen in Venezuela.
Currently there are between 60,000 and 70,000 Cubans in Venezuela on various “missions,” according to recent reports from courageous Venezuelan reporters like Marianela Salazar and Rafael Poleo.
It’s impossible to determine with any accuracy how many of these Cubans are engaged in military, intelligence and other security-related functions including deep penetration of vital institutions of political and civil governance.
But how many Cubans are truly hardcore, committed Communists willing to sacrifice their lives to keep Chavez, the Castros and their small circle of elite thugs in power? How many are true radical Marxist believers?
Not as many as one might think, Venezuelan and Cuban sources tell Caracas Gringo.
For example, it’s a fact that Cuban military personnel have been embedded in Venezuelan military units in Fort Tiuna in Caracas. And it’s a fact that Cuban intelligence officials are actively supporting General Hugo Carvajal’s drug smuggling crime crews within the newly created Bolivarian National Intelligence Service.
But, at best, these reputedly hardcore Cuban military/intelligence officials number only a few hundred persons. And their locations inside Venezuela have already been pinpointed very precisely by professional Venezuelan warriors who will never let the Cubans steal Venezuela.
However, let’s be clear on this point: Venezuelans do not have anything against the Cuban people. Indeed, the majority of the Cubans in-country on nonmilitary missions – doctors, sports trainers, etc. – is not rejected by the Venezuelan people. Even Caracas Gringo and members of his extended Venezuelan family have been aided several times in recent years by Cuban physicians; after all, the Barrio Adentro medical missions are for everyone in Venezuela who needs immediate assistance.
But Chavez is so desperate to stay in power that he’s surrendering Venezuela’s sovereignty wholesale to the Cuban regime. Cubazuela is not just a buzzword, but a description of a process which President Chavez and others in his regime are advancing as rapidly as they can. To remain in power, Chavez and his gang are actively engaged in acts of high treason against the Constitution and Republic of Venezuela.
But Caracas Gringo believes the Cubans are a paper tiger. Their numbers may be substantial, but over 9 out of every 10 Cubans in Venezuela today will never point weapons at Venezuelan nationals. They aren’t going to immolate themselves to perpetuate the Cubazuelan revolution.
There aren’t any significant numbers of Cuban military or security/intelligence personnel at any Venezuelan military garrisons outside Caracas. Cubans do visit these garrisons but they rarely spend even one night inside these bases. Why not?
“Because the Cubans do not feel safe outside Caracas,” a Venezuelan military source tells Caracas Gringo. “The Cubans know that they are not welcome, and never will be welcome, inside Venezuelan military garrisons. Venezuela’s roads and highways are in serious disrepair, and violent crime is out of control. Accidents can and do happen all the time.”