The State of Venezuela

Ep. 17 | Cubazuela: How Castro Conquered an Entire Nation (with John Polga-Hecimovich)

July 14, 2021

NOTE: This episode was recorded prior to the July 2021 protests in Cuba. These nationwide protests, stemming from chronic shortages, lack of medical supplies, and skyrocketing prices for basic necessities, are the largest seen in decades, and are directly linked to Venezuela's declining oil production. More importantly, these protests are a call for freedom, which we echo and fully support. This episode will help put into context the interdependency between the dictatorial regimes of Cuba and Venezuela. Viva Cuba Libre.


“Colonialism basically consists of political, military and cultural control, a puppet government and an extractive economy. By manipulating Chavez, Fidel Castro managed to conquer Venezuela. He defined its government model; aligned the country ideologically with Socialism of the 21st century; reorganized, trained and defined the doctrine of its Armed Forces; assumed control of its intelligence and security agencies; sent hundreds of thousands of soldiers, teachers and doctors to consolidate its political dominance; and established the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of America (ALBA) for the geopolitical defense of his colony. He chose Maduro as the puppet successor to Chavez and established an extractive economy that allowed him to obtain up to 100,000 barrels of oil a day to sustain his own regime.” - Juaquín Villalobos, former commander, Farabundo Marti Front of El Salvador


In this episode, we're joined by professor John Polga-Hecimovich to delve into the symbiotic relationship between Venezuela and Cuba. Venezuela's sovereignty and independence has been ceded to Cuban authority, who under Fidel Castro managed to establish a modern model of colonial domination. It is the main source of Venezuela's militarization of political and economic institutions, creation of a police state, and the current deliberate disinformation apparatus.


John Polga-Hecimovich is an assistant professor of political science at the US Naval Academy and an associate researcher at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Ecuador (FLASCO-Ecuador). He holds a PhD in political science from the University of Pittsburgh, a master’s degree in Latin American studies from the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar in Ecuador, and a BA in government and Spanish from Dartmouth College. He has taught political science at Wake Forest University, the College of William and Mary, and FLACSO-Ecuador, and has conducted academic fieldwork in Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, and Colombia. His research is broadly focused on the effects of political institutions on democratic stability, policymaking, and governance, especially in Latin America. He has published peer-reviewed articles in top academic journals in the United States, United Kingdom, and Latin America, and book chapters in both English and Spanish.


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