Vice-President Responds to Otto Reich, Denies Venezuela is “Cubanizing”

Venezuelan Vice President José Vicente Rangel responded to statements made by the ex US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Otto Reich, in which Reich accused Venezuela of being a “branch” of Cuba and of undergoing a process of “cubanization.”

Venezuela’s Vice-President José Vicente Rangel.
Credit: Archive

Caracas, Venezuela, July 12, 2005—Venezuela’s Vice President José Vicente Rangel defended Venezuela’s sovereignty and bilateral agreements with Cuba, yesterday, responding to criticisms Otto Reich made, the former US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Rangel also responded to allegations made by the US ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, who asserted that anti-drug cooperation and anti-terrorism cooperation between Venezuelan and the US has “decreased,” and accused the ambassador of meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs. 

In an interview with the Caracas daily El Universal, Reich, classified Venezuela as a “branch” and “subsidiary” of Cuba and accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, among other things, of “having put a lot of his country’s money at the service of Fidel Castro” and “giving away” petroleum to the Caribbean island. This close cooperation, stated Reich, contributes to the “disgusting and gloomy process of cubanization” which is currently taking place in the oil-rich nation. 

Reich went on to reiterate that in Venezuela there was an “operation” initiated “months” before the August 15th, 2004 recall referendum that successfully pulled the wool over the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Carter Center, two international bodies who monitored the referendum, to commit electoral fraud, leading to Chávez’ victory in the election. 

Rangel responded to Reich’s accusations by rhetorically asking him to clarify exactly which process of cubanization is he talking about because, in Rangel’s mind, the true cubanization of Venezuela occurred years ago with the infiltration of anti-Castro Cubans into Venezuela’s police bodies. “It would be necessary to ask Reich if he is referring to the cubanization that came about in Venezuela in the 4th Republic that converted the police and security bodies into appendages of the CIA and the Pentagon and additionally, infiltrated Cubans such as Posada Carriles, Navarrete, and others such as Orlando García in these bodies.  Here there was a process of Cubanization of the country,” he affirmed.  

Rangel went on to add that the cubanization as Reich described does not exist in Venezuela, “but rather the collaboration through agreements in areas of healthcare, education, sports, and other activities that benefit the collective.” 

“This is a genuine collaboration, real, of two countries.  The only cubanization that there was in Venezuela was in the past and that led to Posada Carriles participating in the famous case of the blowing up the Cuban Aviation airplane, for which we are asking his extradition to Venezuela,” he affirmed.

According to Rangel, Reich “permanently attacks the Venezuelan government, because all of the petroleum business that [the US] has with Venezuela frustrates him.”  The Vice President considers that Reich does not have the moral authority to make such unfounded accusations. 

“A Sovereign Policy”

Rangel also accused William Brownfield of meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs, a scenario, he emphasized, that occurs not only in Venezuela, but in other nations as well.

Earlier this week Brownfield expressed regret that anti-drug cooperation and anti-terrorism cooperation between Venezuelan and the US has allegedly “decreased.”

According to Rangel, Brownfield’s position reflects the U.S. government’s disdain for the fact that the Venezuelan government is “exercising a sovereign policy” in not allowing DEA officers to continue to transgress national legal norms and violate Venezuelan laws.

Holding up statistics that showed that in the first semester of 2005 Venezuelan authorities seized double of the amount of drugs that were confiscated during the corresponding time period in 2004, Rangel toyed with, and then dismissed, the idea that the US ambassador to Venezuela did not have access to this information.  “This [lack of information] is not the custom among these ambassadors,” he affirmed, adding that “generally U.S. ambassadors have good information in the countries in which they are present.”  The Venezuelan Vice President went on to add that these statistics “reveal that there is efficient work on the part of Venezuelan authorities and that, in second place, I must say that due to agreements with the U.S. there are twelve offices of the DEA operating in the national territory, the majority in Caracas.”

Rangel then alleged that Brownfield’s statements prove that he is taking an active role in the U.S. orchestrated “campaign” intended to “strike Venezuela in the fight against drug trafficking.” 

After reaffirming that Venezuela is “seriously combating drug trafficking,” Rangel declared that it is necessary to reorient the current approach to the fight against terrorism.  Over the course of the past four years, from the Twin Towers to the metro station in Madrid to the recent tragedy in London, the Vice President explained, the U.S. “has shown in their fight in Iraq and against Bin Laden” that it is impossible to fight terrorism with more terrorism.