castro chavez

Cuban advisers bolster Venezuelan regime

By Martin Arostegui, The Washignton Times

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia | Cuba’s communist government has deployed thousands of technical and military advisers to Venezuela to bolster the regime of leftist President Hugo Chavez, as that country faces energy shortages and increased repression against opposition political leaders.

A senior Cuban security official and former interior minister, Gen. Ramiro Valdez, arrived in Caracas, Venezuela, in February to take charge of a Cuban government mission that over the past several years has grown to an estimated 40,000 advisers and aid workers, including a large contingent of Cuban military personnel.

The advisers include intelligence and security officers, political advisers and medical personnel.

According to Venezuelan military analysts and U.S. intelligence reports, Venezuelan officials have said that the Cubans’ main task is to help resolve the energy crisis, which has resulted in rolling blackouts in parts of the country.

“They have great expertise in matters of saving electricity and electrical efficiency,” Venezuelan Energy Minister Ali Rodriguez said of the Cuban personnel.

Mr. Chavez’s opponents fear the Cuban advisers are behind the repressive measures taken by the government to secure a victory for Mr. Chavez in congressional elections scheduled for September.

“Cuba’s expertise is in control, and that’s what Chavez needs right now, so that’s what the Cubans are providing,” said Michael Shifter, director of Inter-American Dialogue, a policy center in Washington. “The Venezuelan government is worried about losing control.”

Several prominent opposition leaders have been arrested over the past month. They include Gov. Alvarez Paz of the oil-rich state of Zulia and Guillermo Zuloaga, president of the last surviving independent newschannel, Globovision.

To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/apr/06/cuban-advisers-bolster-venezuelan-regime/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_must-read-stories-today

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