How Opening Cuba Helped Isolate Venezuela
The headline in my online Time newsletter shocked me, I have to tell you. Could it be possible that Cuba had sold out so suddenly after holding out for 54 years against America’s trade embargo? The article penned by Time‘s former Jerusalem Bureau Chief Karl Vick seemed to suggest so.
“President Obama’s decision to reopen relations with Cuba is having an interesting side effect,” he says, “it’s helping isolate Latin America’s other hard-line leftist regime in Venezuela.”
The rest of the piece, however, failed to give anything in the way of tangible support to the eye-catching headline. Maybe just another case of a sub-editor having a rush of blood to the head.
A short five minutes later I was scrolling through the Yahoo news page, and it seemed that the Cuban government had been very quick to refute any suggestion that they were breaking ranks with their South American comrades. On the contrary, the Yahoo headline read:
Cuba throws weight behind Venezuela in row with US
Havana (AFP) – Cuba rallied behind Venezuela on Tuesday, offering its closest ally “unconditional support” after US President Barack Obama authorized new sanctions against officials of the turbulent South American oil producer. The Cuban reaction marked its first public confrontation with the United States since the two countries began discussions in December on fully restoring diplomatic relations.
Cuba joins other leftist regional governments in closing ranks with Caracas in the deepening US-Venezuela row.
An official statement published in the island’s state-run media called Obama’s executive order implementing the sanctions “arbitrary and aggressive.”
“Cuba again reiterates its unconditional support and that of our people for the Bolivarian Revolution, the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro, and the heroic brotherly people of Venezuela,” the statement said.
Ecuador’s Foreign Minister warned Monday that the Southern American bloc UNASUR would not allow foreign intervention or a coup in Venezuela.
The European Union said Tuesday it has no plans to follow the US lead and impose sanctions on Venezuela.
In Caracas, an irate Maduro pushed back against the new sanctions.
“You have no right to attack us and declare that Venezuela is a threat to the people of the United States. The threat to the American people is yourselves,” he said in the speech that lasted over two hours.
In activating the sanctions, Obama called the situation in Venezuela “an extraordinary threat to the national security” of the United States.
“No one has the right to intervene in the internal affairs of a sovereign state or to declare, without foundation, someone a threat to national security,” Cuba said. “How is Venezuela a threat to America? A thousand miles away, without strategic weapons or having the means or staff to plot against the American constitutional order, the declaration sounds barely credible,” the Havana statement said.