14ymedio, Miguel Henrique Otero, Madrid, April 6,2020 — This past 29th of March four oil tankers sailed from the refinery “Complejo Refinador de Amuay”, located on the Paraguaná Peninsula in Falcón state, Venezuela, heading toward three Cuban ports, Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago. These were carrying several types of petroleum, gas-oil in particular. According to shipping documents that were leaked from Petróleos de Venezuela, the load amounted to 380,000 barrels. It is highly probably that in reality the volume of the export will surpass 500,000 barrels.
The practice of under-invoicing allows officials of both countries to come away with gains going directly to their own pockets. As in absolutely all the areas of activity of the Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro regimes, corruption operates against the essential interests of Venezuelan society, and in this case, those of Cuban society as well.
The information, which has not received the attention it deserves due to the torrent of news caused by the pandemic, has raised a legitimate scandal. Many of us wonder how it’s possible that a backward country with extreme suffering, much of which is generated by scarcity of fuel, could export the same to another country. This fact recalls the policies of Stalin between the years 1932 and 1933 when millions of peasants, especially in the Ukraine, died of hunger while the communists exported grain and squandered fortunes in propaganda campaigns that lauded “the most nutritious wheat in the world.”
Although we have no information concerning the possible economic value of the transaction — whether the fuel was donated or sold at negligable price — what we do know is that this fuel will not be alleviating Cuban individuals or families. Rather, it will serve to enrich even more the power that crushes Cubans and will open wider the breach between those who have access to the system of communist privileges and those who do not. And it will above all fuel the vehicles and electric plants of officials and police who live in bastions of privilege.
This shipment is no gesture of solidarity, nor is its end political — even though it represents a defiance of the blockade. It simply is a business transaction between corrupt, mafioso powers for mutual benefit. The matter comes down to this — one criminal band sending arms to another. For this is the purpose of the shipment: To send the Castro regime a resource, a weapon of domination over the entire Cuban society.
Over the past two decades, the subsidies for sale and delivery of fuel to Cuba have amounted to between 46 and 54 billion dollars, according to various estimates. One must add to this another 12 billion dollars which have been delivered to the Castro regime via other mechanisms such as donations, agreements without real consideration, extraordinary items, travel expenses (airline tickets, allowances, dining expenses), contracts for supposed services, payment for agricultural products which never arrived at Venezuela, and so on.
Venezuela paid the Cuban regime for agricultural products that could not be produced at home which were bought on the international market and which arrived in Venezuela at outlandish prices. Many times these operations with Venezuelan petroleum have been exposed: The Castro regime received petroleum at prices of 40% or 50% below cost and then resold it at international market prices. Indeed, many vessels marked “Petroleum for Cuba” sailed directly from Venezuela to ports in other countries which had arranged for them in equally opaque deals.
What was the destination of these resources that Chávez and Maduro delivered to the Castro regime? In what projects were they invested? Did they benefit in some way the Cuban society? No! The extensive and chronic poverty has not changed in the least. Conditions of widespread hunger, of scarcity without relief, of permanent and irreversible deterioration of all infrastructures, of insecurity in all levels of private and public life all have persisted and intensified.
In fact, the news of the four tankers sent to Cuba should serve to make us bring together in one bundle the fundamentals underpinning this matter:
Petroleum has been not only the great tool to consolidate the regime of Chávez-Maduro and crush Venezuelan society, but also has been the weapon with which the Castro regime has galvanized and hardened its sinister power over every nook and corner of the Cuban nation; the underwriting of the arsenal with which the democratic opposition of Nicaragua was crushed; the checkbook with which the votes of small nations were bought in order to thwart the judgments of the Organization of American States against Human Rights violations; the well-spring of millions and millions of dollars which have benefitted the Kirchners, the Lula da Silvas, the Evo Moraleses, the Rodríguez Zapateros, and the many others who appear to be warriors of social causes or promotors of dialogue, when they are no less than vicious recipients of dwindling income from Venezuelan petroleum.
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