‘It’s Not Charity’: Russia Questions Cuba’s Ability to Pay for Russian
Oil to Replace Venezuela’s
by FRANCES MARTEL 29 May 2017
The government of Russia has expressed skepticism that the communist
regime controlling Cuba would be able to afford oil shipments from its
former patron to replace the free shipments from Venezuela that have
largely ended as that nation descends into socialism-driven poverty and
While Cuba has turned to Russia to purchase oil following an end to the
copious free shipments of Venezuelan fuel, a report in Russia’s TASS
news agency quotes the nation’s Minister of Energy as confirming the
demand for Russian oil, but not the ability to pay for it.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters Russia is willing
to sell the oil if they are properly compensated for it. “Cuba really
wants more supplies, but the question is in financial sources. If
financial resources are found – the companies will deliver,” he said.
“It’s not charity,” he added.
For decades following the Cuban Revolution, the island nation depended
on the Soviet Union for much of the stability of its meager communist
economy, particularly for oil. As the Soviet Union approached collapse,
its ability to maintain colonies like Cuba began collapsing, ushering in
what Cubans know as the “special period,” when the government could no
longer rely on the Soviet Union for its necessary goods and basic food
supplies became hard to come by. Cuba was economically devastated, with
the “special period” rivaled only by its North Korean analog, the famine
known as the “arduous march.”
The “Bolivarian revolution” of late dictator Hugo Chávez in Venezuela
largely contributed to the Castro regime’s survival at the tail end of
the decade. Venezuela, which boasts the world’s largest known oil
reserves, began buying allies throughout the continent, from the
socialist leaders in Argentina and Bolivia to the smaller Anglophone
Caribbean island states. Few nations benefitted from Venezuelan crude
oil the way Cuba did, however, trading diplomatic support on the
international stage and its alleged medical expertise for oil. Cuba also
refined the Venezuelan oil, reselling it at a profit.
While the strict price controls, food rations, and oil giveaways to
fellow “Bolivarian” nations had sealed the fate of the Venezuelan
economy long before Chávez’s death, the result of these destructive
policies began to snowball under successor Nicolás Maduro.
According to a recent Forbes piece, Petróleos de Venezuela (PSVSA), the
state oil company, has seen its revenue drop $55 billion between 2014
and 2017. Maduro has largely blamed the United States for Venezuela’s
economic woes, accusing the Obama administration of waging an “economic
war” against socialism.
Venezuela has had to rely on the United States in part, however, as
Maduro was forced to import American oil last year due to PDVSA’s
inability to harness Venezuela’s oil reserves at a speed to satisfy demand.
The result has been a steep decline in the amount of oil Venezuela can
ship to Cuba and a sharp decrease in the profit Cuba could previously
generate from refining it. In May, Miami’s El Nuevo Herald reported that
Cuba had experienced a 97 percent decline in exports of refined oil,
representing hundreds of millions of dollars. A particularly important
oil refinery in Cienfuegos, Cuba, was forced to cut its production in
half in October 2016 after Venezuela failed to ship oil to the communist
country for eight months.
The Cuban government filled the void by returning to its original patron
state: Russia. Cuba received its first shipment of Russian oil in the
post-Soviet era in May 2017, part of a larger deal with the Russian oil
company Rosneft to purchase $105 million worth of oil. Rosneft has also
filled a void in Venezuela, buying PDVSA assets and offering Venezuela
loans to maintain its facilities open.
Source: ‘It’s Not Charity’: Russia Questions Cuba’s Ability to Pay for
Russian Oil to Replace Venezuela’s – Breitbart –