The vast majority of Latin America's political leaders and officials, inside or outside the OAS, have blasted the elections on May 20 in Venezuela as illegitimate, and censured the regime of Nicolás Maduro. However, they accept and even praise the new Cuban president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, handpicked without even so much as a sham election.
So comfortable is the dictator Raúl Castro with the region's silence that he publicly admits that he trained Díaz-Canel to be his replacement as head of state. That is, he has no qualms about recognizing that he is an absolute monarch.
When Latin American presidents and diplomats are asked about the double standard applied to Caracas vs. Havana, they slip into vague explanations. No one is telling the truth: they are afraid of Castroism.
The most common argument to discriminate between Venezuela and Cuba is that, while Nicolás Maduro is destroying democracy today, and killing today, and starving his people today, that all happened in Cuba a long time ago, and now there is political stability.
That is, they invoke the Insulza Doctrine, concocted by the socialist and pro-Castro former General Secretary of the OAS José Miguel Insulza.
In 2007, in Lima, Insulza proclaimed, with a straight face: "The Cuban system's source of legitimacy is called Fidel Castro." And he concluded: "Fidel Castro is a charismatic leader who has shaped half a century of life in this hemisphere... and a personality that has ended up imposing as legitimate [ ] a regime like the one Cuba has today".
That is, it does not matter if a head of state has been elected at the polls or not, or has shot opponents, killed or robbed. If a long time has passed, and he is on the Left, his regime is as legitimate as if it had been democratically elected. The caudillo's endurance and charisma are "sources of legitimacy".
Fear of the "Castroist International"
This is the logic of the OAS with respect to Cuba, even though its current leader, Luis Almagro, does condemn Castroism. This kind of policy was established when the organization and its general secretary were controlled by Hugo Chávez, along with his checkbook, threats and blackmail, and when Latin America suffered the biggest populist surge in its history.
In 2011 there were 13 leftist governments. That tide has subsided, although in Mexico it is about to resurge with Andrés Manuel López Obrador. In any case, populist or not, Latin American leaders look the other way today when it comes to Castroism.
And why do they do this? What are they afraid of? They fear the "Castroist International" of subversive mobilization and destabilization at the continental level, featuring a sophisticated and well-organized intelligence and intervention apparatus stretching from the Bering Strait to the Straits of Magellan, and exerting strong pressure on the regional political scene.
On top of this, political leaders, even those on the Right, far from taking on the aggressive Left, which could mean trouble, try to appease it, and even scratch a few votes from it at election time.
Venezuela and Cuba are not comparable, but this is because the Cuban case is worse – except with regards to drug trafficking, as Venezuela is already a narco-State. Maduro has killed hundreds of protesters. Raúl Castro and his brother Fidel are responsible for having shot thousands of opponents, and indirectly caused the death, in other ways, of thousands more. Nobody even knows how many have drowned in the Straits of Florida, or how many thousands died in Africa, victims of Fidel Castro's megalomania.
Not hundreds, as in Venezuela, but tens of thousands of Cuban opponents have suffered imprisonment in the Castroist gulag, including fascist-style concentration camps like those of the UMAP. There are currently 120 political prisoners, of whom some have been in jail for 20 years or more, about to surpass Nelson Mandela's tragic record.
And this is not a question of the past. According to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, in 2017 there were 5,155 arrests for political reasons. In Castro's jails, prisoners of conscience are tortured and beaten. Today. Some have been killed. Thirteen political prisoners have died on hunger strikes. The regime's minions attack people on the street, today, including elderly women. Citizens are arrested for on absurd charges, copied from the Nazis, like "pre-criminal social dangerousness".
In Venezuela there is a food crisis, but this is a relatively recent phenomenon. Cubans, on the other hand, have been reduced to using ration cards for 56 years now, the oldest such document in memory.
In Venezuela, private companies and political parties are harassed. In Cuba, neither of them even exist. Self-employed workers are not recognized as private businesses, but rather as individuals with a license, which is revocable, to sell products or services.
In Venezuela there is private, radio, print and online media, to which the people still have normal access. In Cuba there is none of this. In Venezuela people can connect to social media and the Internet in their homes. In Cuba, they cannot. In Venezuela the elections are fraudulent, but in Cuba there is not even a pretense of democracy; the ballots list just one candidate for each deputy position. There is no dissimulation like in Venezuela.
With 11.2 million inhabitants, Cuba has seen 2 million countrymen leave. This is equivalent to 18% of the population living on the Island. Venezuela has 32.4 million inhabitants, and reliable sources estimate that 2 million Venezuelans live outside the country. If we applied that 18% figure to Venezuela, that would mean 5.8 million Venezuelans going abroad.
Havana keeps Maduro in power
The most outrageous thing is that, if Venezuela is currently stuck in the worst crisis in its history, it is because of Cuba, for Hugo Chávez turned Venezuela into a colony of Castroism, inspired by the old Castroist/Guevarist dream of "Cubanizing" all of Latin America.
Thus arose Cubazuela, the surprising alliance through which Caracas propped up Cuba with subsidies and free oil, and Havana provided it with its know-howto allow el castrochavismo to remain in power, and to expand as much as possible.
Cuba's impact on Venezuela is tremendous. There are hundreds of Cuban soldiers there, including generals, colonels and special forces of the Ministry of the Interior. Cuban doctors and health professionals are instructed to defend tyranny with weapons.
Hundreds of other Cubans hold key positions in the State, the Government, and Venezuela's repressive forces, in particular its intelligence and counterintelligence services. Without the tutelage of Castro, his Military Junta, the PCC, and, particularly, the Castroist intelligence and counterintelligence apparatus, Maduro would have already been toppled.
Cuban informers, together with Venezuelan ones, keep a close eye on Army officers, the Bolivarian National Guard, the Air Force, tanks and artillery. This work is overseen by Raul Castro and his son, Cuba's Fouché, Colonel Alejandro Castro Espín.
It is these Cuban spies and counterintelligence officers who prevent the necessary rebellion by the armed forces against the chavista dictatorship to restore democracy in Venezuela.
Conclusion: in the end it does not matter what the OAS and the Latin American governments do with respect to Venezuela if they take no action against the Castro dictatorship, the primary determinant of what happens there. As a result of this regional inaction, the only totalitarian system in the history of the Americas is coddled, and continues to make Cubans suffer, and to terrorize democracies.