Anti-government marchers in Caracas slam Cuban ‘invader’
Caracas (AFP) – Hundreds of anti-government protesters marched against
Cuban meddling in Venezuela’s domestic affairs.
Under the late elected socialist revolutionary leader Hugo Chavez,
Venezuela forged tight ties with Cuba, becoming its closest regional
ally and economic mainstay of the Americas’ only communist regime.
The close bilateral alliance, which includes military and security
cooperation, is still pursued under President Nicolas Maduro’s year-old
At least 28 people have been killed and 400 injured in the student-led
protests that began February 4 in western Venezuela and spread to
Caracas and other cities.
Oil-rich Venezuela has seen almost daily anti-government demos as tens
of thousands of people vent their rage over the soaring violent crime
rate, spiraling inflation and a lack of basic household goods like
Clad mostly in white T-shirts, marchers waved signs such as “Cuba get
out of the Armed Forces,” “Get out Cuban spies” and “If we keep this up,
we will be the Castrocuban Republic of Venezuela.”
Marchers were called out to the streets by the Popular Will, an
opposition organization led by Leopoldo Lopez. He has been jailed since
The chanting throngs, sounding noisy horns, tried to march on the Cuban
Embassy to rally.
But authorities blocked them from getting to their target, and
demonstrators headed to La Carlota military airfield instead.
Manuel Rangel, 24, waved a banner with a portrait of Cuban revolution
icon Fidel Castro: warning “Get out Invader!”
“We completely reject Cuban involvement in our affairs, of the Castro
brothers in our Armed Forces and in our institutions,” the university
Some analysts say there are Cuban advisers and Cubans taking part in
Venezuela’s security. Caracas does not comment on the claims.
Cash-strapped Cuba depends almost entirely on Venezuela’s largesse
billed as solidarity aid to keep afloat its ailing, Soviet-style
centrally managed economy.
Cuba’s top hard-currency earning export is the $6 billion Havana earns
each year from sending its medical staff overseas on government contracts.
On the defensive, Maduro said: “I repudiate the entire nazi-fascist
campaign that these right-wing cave-dwellers are waging against the
Cuban people,” promising to bring ties even closer to Havana.
– Venezuela, Cuba’s neighborhood ATM –
Unless Cuba can pinpoint and exploit the oil reserves it believes it
has, and fast, Havana must depend on its Venezuelan economic lifeline to
Maria Godoy, a 50-year-old homemaker, said “Cuban military presence in
Venezuela also is to blame for the (deadly) repression at
But people are mainly on the streets, Godoy said, because of the
economic crisis in a country that has increasingly centralized its own
“We’ve been fighting on the streets for a month. So how has the
government improved anything?” she asked. “It hasn’t. Everything is
worse. There is nothing on supermarket shelves.”
Workers from the subsidized foods program held a pro-government protest.
“We will defend Chavez’s legacy. It is sacred. The fascist right-wing
will not plunge the country into chaos,” one told state television.
– Debate about a debate –
Meanwhile, opposition figure Henrique Capriles, who lost to Maduro in
last year’s elections, said he was discussing with the government some
format to hold a debate about the current crisis.
Government-controlled media do not feature such debate.
Maduro, often criticized as being rather low on charisma, then shot back
on state media that Capriles “has no character, and is two-faced. If
someone wants to come for talks, they should do so with respect for the
president. If they don’t want to, then to hell with them, damn it.”
Capriles responded to Maduro, who has called for dialogue on the crisis,
“You are pitiful… You quiver at the very idea of a debate. You have
painted yourself into a corner,” Capriles said.
Source: Anti-government marchers in Caracas slam Cuban ‘invader’ – Yahoo