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Thread: Venezuela Embargo/Sanctions

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    An interesting article I came across on the Reuters site.

    Full article here: https://www.reuters.com/investigates...cuba-military/

    An excerpt:

    Imported repression: How Cuba taught Venezuela to quash military dissent
    [...]
    Within months, the countries drew up two agreements, recently reviewed by Reuters, that gave Cuba deep access to Venezuela’s military - and wide latitude to spy on it and revamp it.

    The agreements, specifics of which are reported here for the first time, led to the imposing of strict surveillance of Venezuelan troops through a Venezuelan intelligence service now known as the Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence, or DGCIM. Under Cuban military advisors, Venezuela refashioned the intelligence unit into a service that spies on its own armed forces, instilling fear and paranoia and quashing dissent. Now known for its repressive tactics, the DGCIM is accused by soldiers, opposition lawmakers, human rights groups and many foreign governments of abuses including torture and the recent death of a detained Navy captain.

    According to the documents reviewed by Reuters, the agreements, signed in May 2008, allowed Cuba’s armed forces to:
    • Train soldiers in Venezuela
    • Review and restructure parts of the Venezuelan military
    • Train Venezuelan intelligence agents in Havana
    • And change the intelligence service’s mission from spying on foreign rivals to surveilling the country’s own soldiers, officers, and even senior commanders.

    The first agreement, according to the documents, would prepare Venezuelan intelligence agents to “discover and confront the subversive work of the enemy.” The second agreement authorized Cuban officials to oversee the “assimilation” and “modernization” of Venezuela’s military.

    The presence of Cuban officials within Venezuela’s military has been known for years. President Nicolás Maduro, Chávez’s disciple and increasingly beleaguered successor, said in a 2017 speech: “We are grateful to Cuba’s revolutionary armed forces. We salute them and will always welcome them.”

    But neither country has ever acknowledged details of the agreements or the extent of Cuba’s involvement. In March, after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence denounced Havana’s “malign influence” on Caracas, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez downplayed the relationship. “I strongly reject repeated and false accusations,” he tweeted, “of Cuban military ‘training,’ ‘controlling’ or ‘intimidating’ in Venezuela.”

    Neither Venezuela’s Defense Ministry nor its Information Ministry, responsible for government communications including those of Maduro, responded to emails and phone calls for this article. Cuban officials didn’t respond to requests from Reuters for comment.

    Eleven years after they were forged, the military agreements have proven crucial for Maduro’s survival as president, according to security experts, people familiar with the administration and opposition politicians. With Cuba’s help and training, the military has stood by Maduro and helped him weather an economic meltdown, widespread hunger and crime, and the emigration of more than 4 million people – more than 10 percent of Venezuela’s population in recent years.

    In June, Reuters explained how a reshuffling of the armed forces, and proliferation of senior officers, has kept military leadership beholden to Maduro. Now, the documents laying out Venezuela’s agreements with Cuba – and interviews with dozens of current and former members of the armed services, government officials and people familiar with the relationship between Caracas and Havana – show how instrumental Castro’s help has been as well.

    The transformation of the DGCIM, these people say, has been particularly effective. “The most important mission for the intelligence service once was to neutralize any threat to democracy,” said Raúl Salazar, a former defense minister under Chávez who opposes Maduro. “Now, with Cuba in charge, the government uses it to stay in power.”

    Once Cuba began training DGCIM personnel, the intelligence service embedded agents, often dressed in black fatigues, within barracks. There, they would compile dossiers on perceived troublemakers and report any signs of disloyalty, according to more than 20 former Venezuelan military and intelligence officials. The DGCIM also began tapping the phones of officers, including senior military commanders, to listen for conspiracies.

    The crackdown has led to hundreds of arrests. At least 200 military officials are currently detained, according to the opposition-led National Assembly. Citizen Control, a Venezuelan organization that studies the armed forces, says the number is over 300.

    In a June 2017 report, reviewed by Reuters, the DGCIM accused a soldier, who enrolled in a university considered to be aligned with the opposition, of “ideological and political subversion.” Speaking out for the first time, the former lieutenant recounted how he was handcuffed to a chair in a continuously lit room and beaten until two vertebrae broke.

    “Those days had no end,” he recalled. He revealed his story to Reuters on the condition that the news agency use only his first name, Daniel, and not disclose his age.

    Since its remaking, the DGCIM’s ranks have swelled – from a few hundred agents early in the Chávez administration to at least 1,500 now, according to former military officials. A recent United Nations report accused the DGCIM of torture – including electric shocks, suffocation, waterboarding, sexual violence, and water and food deprivation. Under Maduro, DGCIM officers have been promoted to senior positions, including the command of his personal security detail.

    The repression, opposition leaders say, has cowed the armed forces. Juan Guaidó, head of the National Assembly, early this year denounced Maduro’s 2018 re-election as a sham and declared, with the support of most Western democracies, that he was Venezuela’s rightful leader.

    But opposition pleas for a military rebellion have gone unheeded. “We have failed,” said a senior opposition official involved in attempts to broker talks with military leaders. “We have nothing to offer to convince them.”
    Last edited by Ironduke; 22 Aug 19, at 17:33.
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