By Sergio Valdivieso (Café Fuerte)
HAVANA TIMES — The escalating political crisis and violence in Venezuela is increasingly pointing towards the Cuban collaboration in the South American country. At stake is the fate of the Cubans there after more than a decade of missions ranging from humanitarian contributions to involvement in the country’s intelligence strategies and social control.
Venezuelan opposition Congresswoman Maria Corina Machado headed the call for a new national march on Sunday March 16, with the peculiarity that the mobilization is directed against the “Cuban interference” in the Armed Forces of Venezuela and in the country’s life public life.
“Against Cuban repression and for Venezuelan dignity. This Sunday #16M ¡everyone in the street!” wrote Machado in her active Twitter account after a meeting with the press .
The nationwide demonstration plans to take to the streets to repudiate the actions of government forces throughout Venezuela.
“The brutal repression orders come from Havana ( … ) there is a humiliating Cuban military interference,” said the legislator, one of the leaders with the greatest ability to rally opposition forces.
In her call for the march, Machado noted that on Wednesday the repression reached an unprecedented level in the history of Venezuela.
“Not even under the worst dictatorships of the twentieth century did we see what occurred Wednesday in cities across Venezuela,” she said.
Official figures given by Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz on Thursday at a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva confirmed 28 dead and 365 injured as a result of protests that have shaken the country since February 12. There are also over a thousand arrested.
The call for a march against the Cuban presence comes at a crucial time of the convulsive Venezuelan panorama.
President Maduro considers replacing members of the National Guard by the Army and impose a curfew amid the unstoppable wave of protests that threatens to paralyze the country. The ruling party looks set to impose desperate measures and that can be a trigger of worse events with an unpredictable ending.
But it is significant that now, in the midst of the protests, the Cuban collaboration is identified as a target of attack and mobilization. This step is significant and can bring on a series of events; it is the result of an accumulation of complaints, disagreements and stubbornness from opposition sectors, which at this point include half the country or perhaps even more.
It is no accident that the “march against the Cubans” occurs when the siege begins to close around Maduro’s options to solve the crisis. And also when the White House and US Congress are poised to seek stronger measures to deal with the debacle of Chavista policies.
For weeks the burning of Cuban flags has taken place during the opposition demonstrations in response to interference from the island’s personnel in Venezuela.
Havana Closely Watching Caracas
In Cuba, the Venezuelan situation is no small thing for the government of Raul Castro. Despite recent statements of unwavering solidarity from Chancellor Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, the Castro leadership knows the Maduro card is fading and strange maneuvers are not the answer.
More than the readings on the falling of the Cuban flag in the recent welcoming to the island’s delegation, it was symptomatic that Raul Castro’s stay in Caracas was only a few hours and reduced to the official memorial ceremonies for Chavez on March 5th.
The times of the internationalist mobilizations to Angola and Ethiopia are part of the history of the twentieth century and the Cuban government will not move any piece that can smear its diplomatic repositioning and plans to attract foreign investment to stimulate its shaky economy. Neither it is clear whether the prolongation of the crisis in Venezuela could disrupt the daily supply of 100,000 barrels of oil that rescues the survival of the island.
For all that, the demonstrations on March 16 will be an important thermometer on what lies ahead for Cuba and the Cuban collaborators in a land that had seemed like home. Venezuelans have reason to be tired of a solidarity that a long time ago became impertinence and extortion.