Cuba Trains "Thugs" in Venezuela

Wednesday, September 2, 2015
By Emilio J. Cardenas, former Argentinian Ambassador to the United Nations, in El Diario Exterior:

Cuba Trains "Thugs" in Venezuela

As a result of the so-called process of "normalization" of relations between Cuba and the United States, the former country has been formally excluded from the U.S.'s list of countries that "export" terrorism. Right or wrong. But that's how it is.

One would think this would definitely preclude Cuba from the possibility of further promoting violence in our region, as indeed it did -- actively and constantly -- in the 1970s, feeding and arming those who killed innocent civilians during the various "internal armed conflicts" in the decade of lead. But this, as we shall see, is not necessarily the case. There are different types of deception, and infamous variants, that are still being used.

Cuba, for a long time, has usually repressed dissidents through its security forces, but also "accompanied" by groups of allegedly independent "thugs" who -- in the streets and squares of the country -- beat opponents mercilessly, with a reprehensible "professionalism".

This allows the communist authorities to argue that only the allegedly "spontaneous" group are responsible for the repression and its consequences. Never the authorities. They pretend to have nothing to do with the violence, when in fact, they are the ones who prepare, decide and to put in place their "thugs" for the crackdowns. It's similar to what is done by the Russian Federation, in Crimea, as in eastern Ukraine. An old trick, which no longer fools anyone, but still serves to hide the sad truth of violence against innocent people. They do the "dirty work" for authoritarian regimes. Again and again. With the endorsement, hidden but real, of the authorities.

This technique is also used by Nicolas Maduro, with his so-called "collectives". They move on motorcycles, in pairs. They are groups of thugs armed to the teeth, not only with guns, but also with sticks and chains to hurt their targets. And to intimidate. They carry revealing designations: "Los Tupamaros", "La Piedrita" or other. They are directly responsible for the violence; especially repression against students, of whom they have killed 25, and have wounded several hundred others participating in peaceful protests -- of both sexes.

These Venezuelan groups are trained in Cuba or by Cuban instructors. Or on the border of Venezuela, with instructors from the FARC, as revealed by the content of computers seized by the Colombian army from the leaders of this terrorist organization. They train for periods of up to three months.

Moreover, they are often serve as "bodyguards" for public officials at all levels. As was the case of a former secretary of commerce, now processed, among us. Among those responsible for the training -- according to reports -- are three Cuban generals: Leonardo Andollo; Ramiro Valdes; and Carlos Fernandez Rondín.

This must be investigated, denounced and cannot be ignored. Of course, Cuba has the responsibility to discontinue these abhorrent practices. To no longer intervene in the internal affairs of other countries in the region. And also, to act with the decency and transparency that this delicate moment in its history requires.

Translation by CHC.