News & Opinion | June 3, 2018 8:04 am

Cuban Role in Drug-Trafficking That Contributed to ‘Mafia State’ in Venezuela

Cuban intelligence connection to cocaine traffickers helped cement chaos under Nicolás Maduro.

Cuban President Raul Castro (R) and President Nicolas Maduro of Venzuela attend an award  ceremony at the Cuban State Council on March 18, 2016 in Havana, Cuba. Maduro was awarded the Jose Marti medal, Cubas highest honor named after the Cuban revolutionary Marti.  (Photo by Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo/Getty Images)
Cuban President Raul Castro (R) and President Nicolas Maduro of Venzuela attend an award ceremony at the Cuban State Council on March 18, 2016 in Havana, Cuba. Maduro was awarded the Jose Marti medal, Cubas highest honor named after the Cuban revolutionary Marti. (Photo by Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo/Getty Images)

Havana may lie 1,345 miles away from Caracas, but the Cuba has had a profound effect on the current “mafia state” that has solidified under the despotic regime Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

The Daily Beast has published a fascinating expose on the subject, drawing a direct line from the Castro administration’s covert relations with Columbian cocaine traffickers in the 1980s. The narco-relationship both pumped money into the socialist country’s coffers and dealt a societal blow  ideological enemy, The United States.

In the following decade, though, in an effort to build a relationship with its neighbor to the north, Cuba began cooperating with the Clinton administration in the War on Drugs.

“But at the same time the Cuban intelligence services were reaching out in other directions, to networks that would become the world’s biggest suppliers of cocaine: the narco-guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and  Venezuela’s security forces,” writes The Daily Beast‘s Christopher Dickey. “Cuban counterintelligence is said to have tutored the Venezuelan spies, domestic and foreign, and helped to organize them to root out opposition to the regime of Hugo Chávez. Indeed, the Cubans taught them to do whatever might be necessary to survive.”

Those relationships continued under Madura, who recently “won” re-election in a rigged vote. “Venezuela has become a full blown economic, political and criminal disaster, most likely headed for a showdown with its neighbors and with Washington. And the traffickers in the government not only continue to thrive, their corruption has become vital to the cohesion and survival of the regime,” writes Dickey.