Cuba accuses U.S. of prepping for military action in Venezuela

Humanitarian aid just pretext for intervention, Cuban officials say

HAVANA – The Cuban government is accusing the Trump administration of preparing military aggression against Venezuela. 

"You're starting to see American military transports that originate in U.S. military installations, where marine infantry and special forces operate and plan covert action," Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said in Havana. 

Cuba's top diplomat added this is being done unbeknownst to the foreign governments in the territory where the military installations are located. 

When asked what evidence Cuba has the U.S. is already planning military action to topple Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Rodriguez urged Local 10's Cuba correspondent Hatzel Vela to check the airports where he would likely find proof. 

President Donald Trump has said the U.S. is seeking a peaceful transition of power, but all options are open.

During a speech at Florida International University Monday, Trump said earlier in the week the first U.S. Air Force C-17 landed in Colombia with what the president called crucial assistance, including nutrition kits for children. 

"Unfortunately, dictator Maduro has blocked lifesaving aid from entering the country. He would rather see his people starve than give them aid, than help them," Trump said. 

Rodriguez argues the humanitarian aid is being used as a pretext for military intervention. 

For decades, Cuba and Venezuela have been politically and economically linked. Up until recently, the oil-rich nation would send oil in exchange for Cuban human services like doctors, athletic trainers and military advisers. 

Trump argues Maduro is "controlled by the Cuban military and protected by the private army of Cuban soldiers." 

"Maduro is not a Venezuelan patriot; he is a Cuban puppet," Trump said. 

The Cuban government continues to deny its military involvement in the South American country. 

"I urge him [Trump] to show evidence," said Rodriguez, adding of the more than 20,000 Cubans living in Venezuela, 94 percent are health workers. 

On Jan. 23, Venezuela's National Assembly invoked the Venezuela Constitution to declare Juan Guaido as the country's legitimate leader. Since then, Guaido has been recognized by more than 50 countries. 

Maduro has vowed to stay in power, despite international pressure and a growing humanitarian crisis. 

"The days of socialism and communism are numbered not only in Venezuela, but in Nicaragua and in Cuba as well," Trump said. 

About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.