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Malign Influence of Russia, Cuba in Venezuela

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Sept. 25, 2019. Nicolas Maduro is on a working visit to Moscow. (Sergei Chirikov/Pool Photo via AP)

Maduro has retained power over Venezuela’s military forces, thanks in large part to the support he receives from Cuba and Russia.

Malign Influence of Russia, Cuba in Venezuela
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Venezuela, once one of Latin America’s most affluent countries, is today deep in an economic and political crisis due to the gross mismanagement and corruption of Nicolas Maduro and his illegitimate regime.

Severe shortages of necessities, including food, medicine, and potable water, as well as the regime’s brutal suppression of political dissent, have caused some 4.5 million of Venezuela’s 30 million people to flee the country. But this means that close to 26 million people are left to endure horrendous conditions. Ninety percent of Venezuelans remaining in the country now live in poverty, while hundreds of political prisoners languish in jail without just cause or due process.

Despite a 2018 Organization of American States resolution that declares Maduro’s presidency illegitimate due to a deeply flawed election, Maduro has retained power over Venezuela’s military forces, thanks in large part to the support he receives from Cuba and Russia.

As early as 2018, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro warned that more than 20,000 Cubans are in Venezuela to prop up Maduro. They are collecting intelligence about dissidents, performing migration services, and training Venezuelan government forces “to torture and repress” political prisoners.

In the meantime, Russia has supplied military equipment and weapons systems to Venezuela’s military, and loans and investments to the regime and to regime-controlled companies, thus helping the regime withstand U.S. sanctions that target significant human rights abusers. To pay for Cuban and Russian support, and to enrich himself, Nicolas Maduro is looting Venezuela’s oil assets, giving tens of millions of barrels of oil to Cuba annually and channeling billions of dollars’ worth of oil to the Russian-owned Rosneft Trading company.

In January, the United States sanctioned Leopoldo Cintra Frias, Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba, or MINFAR, for gross human rights violations. As head of MINFAR, Cintra Frias “bears responsibility for Cuba’s actions to prop up the former Maduro regime in Venezuela,” said Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.

One month later, the United States imposed sanctions on Rosneft Trading and its Chairman, Didier Casimiro.

In addition, President Donald Trump spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about Moscow’s interference in Venezuelan affairs, while Secretary of State Pompeo addressed the issue with his Russian counterpart.

The United States calls on Russia and Cuba to cease propping up the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro, who has brought nothing but grief and hardship to the Venezuelan people.

“The United States remains firmly committed to the people of Venezuela and to the cause of freedom there,” said the State Department’s special representative to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams. “We look forward to the day when Venezuela is free.”