The Cuban elephant in the room


You know what’s weird about MarioSilva-Gate?

Well, several things.

For starters, we’re still not sure who leaked the audio in the first place nor for what purpose, and we’ve yet to hear a  statement from any of the main actors involved.

It’s also weird that the endlessly malleable Prosecutor General announced she would look into investigating the whole scandal. Super weird.

But the weirdest part, in my view, is that no one in the Cuban faction of this intrigue has stepped up to make the case for continuing our unusually close alliance with Cuba, or for Cuba period. Nobody.

We’ve not heard a word from Cilia Flores, nothing from Jorge Arreaza, not even a peep from partisan outfits such as Patria Para Todos or even the Communist Party itself, and certainly nothing from Nicky Ripe.

Is Maduro (sorry, I mean Raúl) going down without a fight?

Maduro es Comandante en Jefe 21Mayo2013

Following the broadcast of his damning audio, in which Mario Silva exposed all the narco-corrupt shenanigans of non-Marxist, decidedly non-Cuban military businessman Diosdado Cabello (which, by the way, included rumours of a coup plot), Cuban sweetheart Nicolás Maduro embarked on a media frenzy aimed at convincing the world that he is, in fact, Commander in Chief of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces. Hell, he even has a placard to prove it!

He’s also gone about his business as acting President, meeting with private-sector reps to deal with food shortages, as well as private media reps to … well, I’m not really sure why he met with them, but that’s besides the point.

He met with El Sistema founder José Antonio Abreu to talk about musical programs for the underprivileged. He presided over a graduation of workers, dropping in a line or two about militias. He led the launch of a missile, wearing a cool headset and all (Diosdado was there). He’s going to Correa’s swearing-in ceremony in Ecuador.

Maduro has definitely intensified his military-related PR agenda, no doubt in order to tacitly reaffirm his leadership over the institution, along with broadcasting his importance over Diosdado. So, as far as MarioSilva-Gate damage control is concerned, the military portion is relatively taken care of, or it would appear to be so.

Notably absent during all of Maduro’s public appearances, though, was any reference to MarioSilva-Gate and its implications. I mean, there was supposedly a PLOT to KILL HIM. Chávez looooved to talk about these assassination plans, with much less evidence around to substantiate them.

Not Maduro.

Maduro does not want to draw attention to any rifts within Chavismo, and he also wants to project a benevolent, non-belligerent foil to his evil archnemesis, Diosdado. That I get.

But it does strike me as strange that not a word has been uttered with regards to Cuba. As in “Cuban doctors are amazing,” or “the fascist opposition wants to turn our people away from Cuban support.” Hell, even a “Chávez really wanted us to love the Cubans” would’ve sufficed. Thus far, no justifications, no derisive defenses, no outright denials. Nothing.

Now, its definitely too early to tell, but if this is, in fact, a power struggle between Diosdado & his merry band of narco-enterpreneurs and Maduro & his Cuban mooches, the latter should have a couple of tricks up his sleeve ready to deploy soon enough.

First of all, he should play the Chávez card. As in “Chávez chose ME to lead you and we must respect Chávez’s will.” Secondly, he could man up as President and lead an all-out assault against government corruption, provided he has the backing to neutralize Diosdado. Thirdly, he should make use of his international networking skills as ex-Secretary of State to rally pro-Chávez governments around his cause.

But I’m left to wonder if the Cuban argument is even a worthy strategy at this point. What is the overall perception of Cuban involvement in Venezuelan government? Do the poor sectors of society support Cuban doctors to such a degree that it would represent a rallying cry around which to band together chavismo? Why has Maduro not yet tapped into this discourse? Is it a hot-button issue? If Venezuelans were faced with the option between a Cubanized government or a Military State, would they choose the latter? Do Cubans vote?

Chávez was known to be deftly shrewd in assessing opinion polls and tracking numbers in order to make political decisions. He always took the pulse of his Venezuelan electorate masterfully. But his responses to popularity were always based around elections. (Unless there was an imminent coup plot that I am not aware of. Otherwise he could rest easy from election to election).

With no immediate elections in sight, but a probable power struggle in the works, I wonder if Maduro is doing the same.

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  1. Well, there’s an election left: mayors (including caracas’ metropolitan mayor) and municipal councils, which is already delayed since last year. All incumbents have at least one extra year.

  2. Maduro has already talked about assassination plans against him early this month.
    I kept track of “declaraciones de magnicidio” for our late caudillo Chávez and the average rate of official announcements was 1 every 3 months, so Maduro is not outside the Chávez norm here.

    But then: what if this recording was hacked by US intervention? Actually, hijacking a computer is something a lot of people can do, specially if the one holding the computer is someone like Silva.

    It’s going to be interesting to listen to the next recording.

    • Please, don´t fuel up the orgasmic fantasies of those eager to prove that these recordings were stolen by an airplane stationed in Palanquero airbase in Colombia…

  3. “If Venezuelans were faced with the option between a Cubanized government or a Military State, would they choose the latter? Do Cubans vote?” And why not other options , maybe “patria de Venezuela”?

  4. Re: Cuban elephant in the room …
    to paraphrase Milan Kundera –
    La vie est ailleurs
    or in simple english – Life is Elsewhere

    [this elephant may soon transform itself into Babar]

    • >>> …. What is the overall perception of Cuban involvement
      in Venezuelan government?
      Konrad Kyeser von Eichstätt’s Bellifortis (1405), describes the military technology of the era. The book includes a drawing that is accompanied by the Latin text: “Est florentinarum hoc bracile dominarum ferreum et durum ab antea sic reseratum.”
      He , of course, is referring to hard iron breeches [vulgarly known as chastity belts],
      that pres Ripe was fitted with by his cuban handlers. Which might explain why the political contienda between the two rivals has been muted so far.

      • Cuba is an Island. Venezuela is sitting on oil, minerals, rivers, forests, ….. (plenty of stuff for Cuba to be interested in!) The bigger question is what does Cuba have that Venezuela is interested in! NOTHING!

        • That Venezuela is interested in nothing… However, it has something that the gang running the country are interested in: a STRUCTURE to stay in power forever… brainwashing the poor, creating hate among Venezuelans, providing intelligence to maduro of who is not completely loyal and purging them… Like a vampires the castro’s have kidnapped Venezuela and want to suck it dry so their gang can stay in power.

    • you would have to be an apátrida de la derecha pro-imperialista to bring this to our attention… 😉

      So the PCV supports Maduro and remind us all that the issue has nothing to do with corruption or internal chavista conflicts, as per Silva audio confirmations of what we all knew. Rather, the issue has everything to do with the opposition’s need to further divide the population on the basis of class. Uh-huh. The PCV also applauds Silva’s expressed cooperation with government authorities so that investigations can take place. Uh-huh. Oh, and btw, the PCV loves President Maduro and fully supports him in the defense and deepening of the revolutionary process. That is what PCV idol #1, Ché Guevara, would want.

      • Actually, my real opinion is that the PCV is not particularly pro-cuban, but that does not matter at all, since what difines the role of the PCV in the power equation is they are utterly and hopelessly unimportant…the just did NOT exist for CH, and they are nobodys in the relationship Cuba-Venezuela

          • Yeah, yeah, I agree completely with Emiliana in this one, as always she´s right on the spot. I guess that in its own communistbullshitantimperialistblahblah (contradicciones existentes entre distintas tendencias reformistas y pequeñoburguesas, wtf?), the PCV puts itself behind the Maduro side, but we should not have expected a particularly pro-cuban backing from them. My point is that the Maduro wing of the PSUV is theramiles closer to Habana than the Gallo Rojo Party..

  5. My opinion is that, given that we have been subjected to our good share of nationalism since “La Cosiata”, if the only options are those two, most Venezuelans (including chavistas) will opt for the military, nationalistic rule…

    … and that plays well for Diosdado, and he knows that.

  6. “Hell, he even has a placard to prove it!”

    What’s missing on the olive-shirt-as-symbol-of-military-fatigues is Maduro’s name tag, just to make sure that TV audiences know exactly who the Comandante in Jefe really is, and not some guy with pretty eyes.

  7. Hola Emiliana: Creo que estás pelando el pedal en tu análisis. Una de las lecturas que podemos hacer del “Silvagate” es justamente que alguien quiere dejar al descubierto cómo funciona la inteligencia chimba cubana en Venezuela y decirle al G2 que están pillados (Aramis touché, if you know what I mean). No es que Mario Silva fuera el espía que llegó del frío ni mucho menos. Parece más bien un chismoso con un toque de malandro. Lo importante es que se dio el corto circuito y la grabación se filtró, seguramente gracias a la intervención de algún factor de inteligencia venezolano. Hay más de dos bandos en el oficialismo.

    • Interesting. So…your take is that SEBIN is behind this in order to assert its superior intelligence-gathering prowess? Its a Sebin/G2 pissing match? Hadn’t considered that possibility.

    • Couldn’t it be the USA? I mean: we don’t have to be Chavistas to think so. Or is that option not exciting/Byzantine enough? A hacker could have taken control of the laptop to transmit the information, that is not difficult to do at all if you are in the metier.

      • I was thinking that myself but didn’t want to get the PSFs all worked up.

        But my sense is, the USA is still getting what it needs out of this relationship and would not want to generate instability. Call me naïve…

        • I agree that the US isn’t really interested in doing anything like that, firstly, they have a lot on their plate already, and most importantly (as you well say) they’re getting what they need out of the situation. To put it simply, Venezuela is great at selling oil and buying everything else; the US is great at buying oil and selling everything else. Match made in heaven.

          • Sabes que me dicen off the record? Fuck them. Fuck them all (Latam). At the end of the day, everyone wants to come to the U.S. Times have changed and gringo baggage back home means no time for backyard activities. Nobody cares everyone has their own problems.

        • That’s not naive, that’s perfectly in line with the US administrations foreign policy. Only meddle when it’s lucrative. Don’t meddle if things are going well. The US is Venezuela’s biggest business partner. I’m sure the CIA is doing its little investigating stuff and has a whole bunch of scenarios playing out but as to whether they’re acting, I’m confident not on a significant level. The release of this audio isn’t significant enough since it is, truthfully, mostly gossip by Silva (which most people already knew, and it only confirmed that a top chavista felt that way). If the CIA were to release a recording it’d be more damning than that.

          • Today it would be more like the NSA that eavesdrops on communications. CIA became paramilitary in the last decade more emphasis on killing than gathering intel. That is changing they say and spooks are returning to the CIA and the business of killing is going back to the pentagon. From a technical POV, foreign intel agencies not required for Silva audio. I suspect this is dumber than we think like Silva passing out from a binge and his bodyguards taking the audio!

      • I seriously doubt it and I am familiar with gringo activity in cubazuela. More like Mossad but the code required is available literally off-the-shelf from America to Europe and Russia from legit companies to mafia like hacking organizations.

  8. Yes, the Prosecutor General’s announcement seemed to me completely strange. Investigating what, exactly?

    If you are going to use the state’s prosecutorial powers for intimidation, there has to be some clarity in the threat. Where’d she lose the magic touch? I mean, what sort of crackpot klepto-narco fascist regime is this, anyway?

  9. Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything weird about what’s going on regarding the reaction of the procubans. These guys always have played like “nothing strange is happening here, we’re just collaborating with each other”.
    What I find extremelly weird is that Luisa Ortega is opening an investigation. Who wants to bet that they are going to end up prosecuting somebody from the opposition for instigating through false evidence, blah, blah, blah?

  10. Simply put, Maduro remains silent because his Cuban handlers told him to keep his mouth shut. Perhaps because he can’t help but to say stupid things (we know how you voted for example). BTW what came of this? Any investigation?

  11. I read there is a second part to the audio that allegedly refers to Chavez’s death. It supposedly will be made public this coming week. Anybody else heard about this?

  12. Everything in Venezuela is weird, EVERYTHING. Analyzing MarioSilvagate is a futile exercise leading to the conclusion that the whole thing is weird and can’t be rationalized. Weird.
    It’s also weird that toilet paper finally got people’s attention and a good laughter worldwide, not other meaningful issues. The revolution’s credibility is shut in the eyes of the world in a country where people have to wipe their asses with a piece of newspaper that may have a picture of their president on it. Very weird.

  13. Emiliana, I have asked myself the same questions. Now I think I heard, when they were elected, that the Prosecutor and the People Obusdman ladies were of Diosdado clan. If that is indeed the case, there you have a reason why the Prosecutor is so interested….

  14. international networking skills….

    Peru Anyone? Come on! where is the irony meter when you most need it!

    Oh extra points to Maduro, for convincing us that he is the Commander in Chief by using a placard!

  15. They have already announced their next move! Is the “Evita” move with Rosa Virginia Chavez leading the newer and bigger Mision Molagro

  16. Nothing new if you understand pathological narcissism and elephants. And they did not leak the audio themselves. Silva solely responsible for recording and loosing it. I bet that was unsanctioned recording who the fuck records meetings with Cuban intel unless you are stupid as Silva. The silence is what I would expect. The Cubans are renown experts at manipulation. Ana Montes at DIA….they cultivated her narcissism the rest is history.

    • If Mario recorded it and lost it. Then why is he going to cuba for a Medical Check up. This whole thing is very weird, The only scenario that kind of makes sense is the cubans releasing the tape to keep diosdado “on check” and reducing his appeal among the general population. They do this by sacrificing a low value “peon” with high credibility among chavistas. My guess is that this is a calculated move. The castros see significant risk in diosdado.

      • Why was Silva canned the next day? You can run but you cannot hide and Silva know this all too well: state sponsored hits abroad by the Cubans are the stuff of lore. There have even been many assassinations of Venezuelan military officers designed to look random. One was in St Petersburg Russia, and I know of many others back home.

        • Gonna elaborate on the Russia bit which I recall from the time working with Russia expert PMB. It involved the first batch of Russian military Helios. Chavez was in Moscow on first or early visit when Putin asked him “why did you pay so much for the helicopters?”
          Three officers involved where subsequently killed by gunfire including a general in ft Tiuna and two assistants one in Maracaiblo the other in Russia. Message sent.

          • Can you elaborate more? What was the message and who was sent to?

            Where did you hear about Putin saying that to Chavez? Venezuela undoubtedly paid way above what they needed to for whatever hardware they bought, but not sure why Putin would embarass Chavez over it. For Chavez, the egomaniac that he was, to be reminded he was behind all the propaganda just another caudillo of a third world country that happens to sit on a sea of oil and not really quite in the big boys league was one thing he hated more than anything.

      • Regarding Silva going to Cuba. They say he’s a coke head so it’s probable that part of this mea culpa trip is to detox him Cuba style like they did with Lina Ron and Diego Maradona: lock you in a room and throw away the key. If Silva is given a pass it’s because the audio was not purposely leaked by him. Just MHO. The Cubans are tough to crack and figure out….I know this for a fact. Let’s just say I have relatives in the biz

      • No I did not. The M.O. Is not what I expect. What are you saying about the audio since you heard it to the end. Silva at mercy of handlers …what is he going to do? They can kill him anywhere and he’s not going to the US unlike others. I seriously doubt the Cubans aired their own laundry. This is a monumental fuck up by Silva and if you think otherwise please explain

        • At the end, the last thing MS tells his cuban handler is something like “wait , I’ll make a recording of this for you to take ” meaning that he himself had made a recording of his talk and was giving the Cuban a copy to take with him . There was no need for an unsactioned recording , There were at least two recorded copies of the talk, the one MS made and kept and the one he gave to Palacios , suggesting that the oppo got the recording either from the Cubans or from someone inside MS circle . The govt is making a very obvious show to make people believe that what the tape says is untrue (by ignoring the tape and by having Cutie eyes accompany Maduro to all presidential functions ) meaning that to them the tape is an embarrassment. This means that either the tape was handed to the oppo by some secretly disgruntled member of MS circle ( and given his personality thats a possibility ) , or by the Cubans for reasons which are not easy to discern given that they probably dont want to embarras Maduro or by one of MS enemies (who got hold of a copy) . The notion that MS himself had the copy passes to the oppo seems wild since he beleived he was getting through to the Cubans and thence to Maduro .

          • If it’s something digital, “copy” is a very relative concept.
            It could have been indeed the Cubans who set that free…or just someone who hacked the computer, which is not such a complicated thing to do.

            What I find really strange is how quite the Cuban is. Even if his work is to “listen” and “lead” the conversation in case it gets stuck (and he doesn’t have any problem with talkative Mario), he is just so silent…it really sounds as if he was aware already we were going to listen to this recording.

      • Oppo released it, they know how they got it. I’m even open to foreign technical assist be it private or government. Maybe it was more criollo like someone close to Silva getting the file

        • Casper, I believe MS needed to be canned in all scenarios. If it was planned then he’ll have a reward down the line. If it was not planned, then why are the cubans having mercy on him? I find it hard to believe that they are doing it to “save face”. The whole thing is really berzerk


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