Mérida, July 19, 2021 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela has reaffirmed its long-standing relationship with Cuba after sporadic anti-government protests in recent days spurred criticism of the Havana government.
On a lightning trip to the island, Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez met with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel on Friday in a show of support for the Caribbean nation. While details of the meeting have not been disclosed, the pair reportedly discussed “the main aspects of cooperation between both countries” and “the fight against Covid-19.”
From Cuba, Rodríguez was quick to take aim at the “criminal imperialist onslaught” against the island in reference to both the recent protests and the 60-year US blockade. “The free and dignified world raises its voice against the human rights-violating barbarities which continue to be imposed against the Cuban people,” she wrote on Twitter.
Havana has faced pressure from Washington and allies after a protester died in small-scale anti-government protests last week. The demonstrations, which were largely instigated through automated social media agitation from Argentina, Spain and the US, looked to denounce on-going fuel and food shortages, as well as rising coronavirus cases. A range of Cuban websites, including that of the presidency, foreign ministry, and one of Cuba’s main news portals, CubaDebate, have reported US-originated cyber attacks since.
Cuba’s growing economy registered an 11% contraction in 2020 as the Covid-19 lockdown and ramped up US sanctions led to a sharp fall in international trade and tourism, exacerbating some shortages. Limits and taxes on personal food and medicine entries were temporarily removed last Thursday in efforts to ease the supply problems.
Cooperation between Cuba and Venezuela remains strong, with Caracas supplying 35,000 barrels of oil a day (bpd) to its ally, down from previous highs around 90,000 bpd. Venezuela, which is also subject to an “illegal” and “devastating” US blockade, is coordinating to produce Cuba’s Soberana 02 and Adbala vaccines locally and was the first country to start using the latter. In February, Venezuela backed Cuba’s Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Following the recent attacks against Havana, a number of activities have been organized in Venezuela in solidarity with Cuba, including a salsa concert “Against the Blockades of Venezuela and Cuba” next Monday in Caracas.
A range of Venezuelan authorities, social movements and political parties have also added their voices to the international chorus denouncing US-backed destabilization efforts.
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza highlighted the massive counter-demonstrations in defense of the Cuban Revolution on the island on Saturday, publishing images which he affirmed people “will NOT see in the western misinformation press.”
En La Habana el pueblo cubano amanece en las calles en defensa de su Revolución y su soberanía. Aquí algunas imágenes que NO verás en los medios occidentales de desinformación. #PatriaOMuerte ¡Cuba vencerá! pic.twitter.com/gKRtYozeSP
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) July 17, 2021
Likewise, both the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) and Communist Party (PCV) issued solidarity statements, with the latter claiming the “hypocritical internal [destabilization] campaign” is being “funded by US imperialism.”
“Following the US Color Revolution textbook, they [White House policy makers] generate internal provocations which seek to fabricate an image of ‘social uprising.’ This in turn leads to international condemnation of the Cuban government and the tightening of the illegal and criminal unilateral foreign sanctions,” the PCV argued.
Speaking from Caracas, General Secretary of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) Sacha Llorenti also highlighted a “systematic” and “orchestrated” media onslaught against Cuba, before drawing a comparison with right-wing destabilization efforts in other parts of the region.
“This is not an isolated event, and it is not something that may not happen again. Venezuela has lived through something similar in 2017, Bolivia in 2019, the sister Republic of Nicaragua lived through something similar recently, I have seen it in different scales against the brother and sister people of the Caribbean. Now these attacks look to involve Cuba,” he explained.
Events in Cuba likewise stirred reactions in Venezuela’s rightist circles, with many anti-government activists and politicians expressing support for Cuban demonstrators on social media.
For his part, US backed opposition frontman Juan Guaidó took to Twitter to accuse the Maduro administration of “financing” Cuba and “cooperating in violating human rights.” He offered no evidence to back his claims.