Hernán Yánez

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This study examines the background as well as the ideological foundations underpinning the Cuba-Venezuela alliance. Castro and Chavez are now trying to consolidate a new political axis in Latin America, funded by Chavez’ oil diplomacy. Similarities with the Cuban experiment are highlighted, as well as Castro’s collaboration with the leadership of the Movimiento Revolucionario Bolivariano-MBR 200. The various dimensions of the cooperation between Venezuela and Cuba are explored, with emphasis on its political objectives and impact on each country. Following are some of the main conclusions of the study:

• Venezuela is providing in excess of 90,000 barrels of petroleum daily to Cuba.

• Cuba’s debt to Venezuela has surpassed the $3 billion mark.

• Cuba is reselling, with Venezuelan support, part of the petroleum in the world market.

• Part of the Venezuelan oil subsidy is repaid by Cuban personnel working in Venezuela. It is estimated that more than 40,000 Cubans are now in that country including military advisors, security officers as well as teachers, nurses and physicians.

• This large number of Cubans has helped in Chavez’ consolidation of power and in influencing internal developments and public opinion in Venezuela.

• Chavez is attempting to perpetuate himself in power and to replace representative democracy with a new form of "popular democracy."

• A close relationship has developed between Cuba’s FAR and the Venezuelan Armed Forces, FAN. FAN has established doctrines on "asymmetrical war" against "U.S. imperialism" and on Cuba’s "War of all the People" adapted to the Venezuelan case.

• Numerous military exchanges have taken place and the eventual integration of the two institutions will represent a formidable military force in the Caribbean Basin.

• Venezuela is modernizing its military with substantial purchases of weapons from Russia, Spain and others.

• The developing Cuba/Venezuela axis is aggressively supporting groups and leaders in Latin America. In particular, the two countries have focused on Bolivia and Evo Morales presidential candidacy. Other support has gone to violent and non-violent groups in the region such as the Fuerzas Armadas de Colombia (FARC); the Sandinistas of Nicaragua; the FMLN in El Salvador; and indigenous groups in Ecuador and Peru.

• Venezuela has moved closer to Iran and North Korea expanding political and economic cooperation.

• Venezuela, with Argentinean and Cuban support, have established Telesur, a government controlled network broadcasting throughout the region the anti-American message of Chavez and Castro.


Institute for Cuban & Cuban-American Studies Occasional Paper Series December 2005