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Venezuela's Role in Warming Cuba - U.S. Relations (+video)

December 17, 2014

CARACAS, VENEZUELA — A lot of people have been getting credit for the US-Cuba breakthrough today, from Raul Castro and Barack Obama to Pope Francis and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

But there's someone else who deserves credit for taking Cuban-US diplomatic relations to the brink of normalization, though he probably doesn't want it: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

In the late 1990s, President Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chávez launched his political career with Fidel Castro as a mentor. Mr. Chávez was a staunch friend of the Cuban revolution, joined Castro in a Latin American bloc opposed to "US imperialism," and showered his resource-poor Caribbean neighbor with oil. In exchange, Cuba dispatched doctors to tend to Venezuela's sick....

“Venezuela threw a last-minute lifeline to the Cuban government," says Christopher Sabatini, senior director of policy for the Americas Society, based in New York. Mr. Sabatini says it’s difficult to overstate the importance that Venezuela’s troubles at home have on the recent news between Cuba and the US....

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