On a Visit to Cuba, the Head of the Nicaraguan Army Celebrates the ‘Union of Our Armed Forces’

The delegation placed flowers at the funeral “monolith” of Fidel Castro and the “founding fathers of the Cuban revolution.” (Prensa Latina)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 11 November 2023 — The international tour of General Julio César Avilés, head of the Nicaraguan Army, took him to Cuba this Thursday, where he was received with honors after returning from Russia and China. The authorities of both regimes have not hidden the intention of the visit: to celebrate the “union of our armed forces,” according to Rosario Murillo, vice president of the Central American country and wife of the Sandinista dictator Daniel Ortega.

Avilés, who travels with several members of his General Staff, landed in Santiago de Cuba and placed flowers at the funeral “monolith” of Fidel Castro and the “founding fathers of the Cuban revolution,” Céspedes and Martí. According to an official press release from the Nicaraguan authorities, the general travels with the “mission” of strengthening the ties of their country’s Army with  those of its allies.

The journey has been criticized by several of Ortega’s opponents, such as former liberal councilor Alfredo Gutiérrez, who says that Avilés “seeks political and military support from extra-regional powers,” and adds that “he intends to hasten the Chinese promises of strategic projects for Nicaragua, such as the construction of the Punta Huete airport.” (In the 1980s, during the conflict between the Sandinista regime and the contra guerrillas, the Soviets built an airstrip in Nicaragua to receive huge military planes loaded with weapons, which made a previous stopover in Cuba.)

Avilés stressed the commitment of the Nicaraguan regime to Moscow and its “firm support” of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

For its part, the Cuban press has been very discreet about the visit and has limited itself to reporting the visit of Avilés to the tomb of Antonio Maceo in El Cacahual, located in Havana. There the Nicaraguan soldier was received by the Cuban Minister of the Armed Forces, Álvaro López Miera, but no details were offered about their meeting.

The few words of Avilés that Granma quoted refer to the “bonds of friendship and cooperation” that unite both armies, and to celebrating the good health of their bilateral agreements. Although other authorities, like Miguel Díaz-Canel, are expected to meet with the Nicaraguan military delegation, the fact that the visit began in the east of the Island arouses suspicions about the possibility of a secret interview with Raúl Castro, as already happened last August with the visit of the second man of the Venezuelan regime, Diosdado Cabello.

During his trip to Russia, Avilés stressed the Nicaraguan regime’s commitment to Moscow and its “firm support” of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. According to Prensa Latina, both senior officials evaluated their bilateral mechanisms in terms of “defense, security and technical-military cooperation,” in which Managua enjoys “high levels of confidence” from its partners in the Kremlin.

Beyond the usual statements against U.S. “imperialism,” little was published about Avilés’ visit to China. Last June, after the American newspaper The Wall Street Journal denounced China’s plans to open an espionage base in Cuba, numerous media and public figures warned about the intentions of Beijing and Moscow to strengthen their influence in Latin America through their allies in the region: Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Avilés, ratified as commander-in-chief of the Army for the period 2020-2025, is one of Ortega’s main men, although some independent analysts assess that he is not a “close friend.” The general is on the list of senior officials sanctioned by the U.S., along with several members of his general staff.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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