Venezuela’s leader, Nicolas Maduro, recently attempted to smuggle a dozen Cuban agents into the United States.
Traveling with Maduro to the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the agents tried to pass themselves off as Venezuelan nationals. They were caught in France carrying fraudulent passports. Maduro abruptly canceled his trip to the U.N.
The very next day, Maduro expelled three high-ranking U.S. diplomats from the embassy in Caracas. He accused the U.S. diplomats of conspiring with domestic opposition groups against his administration.
Not much is known about the Cuban agents—even their current whereabouts—but sources report that a few of them are medical doctors operating out of the facility that treated Hugo Chavez and other Cuban allies. Cuban doctors are routinely sent abroad in exchange for resources and a voice in international organizations the country has been banned from. The program currently has over 40,000 doctors in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa.
However, a significant number of these doctors are also supposedly spies for the regime. It has been alleged that many of these doctors collect intelligence on their host countries and any nearby American assets.
It’s unknown why exactly President Maduro attempted to smuggle these individuals when he has much bigger issues to deal with at home. Even though Venezuela’s yearly oil revenues total $100 billion, the country is descending into economic chaos. With a runaway annual inflation rate exceeding 45 percent, consistent shortages of basic household goods, and constant power outages, the sustainability of the “Bolivarian Revolution” is undoubtedly in question.
In the meantime, it can be guaranteed that Venezuela’s new leader will continue to be a thorn in the side of the U.S. and its allies. Under Chavez and now with Maduro, the Bolivarian regime has embraced Iran and allowed Venezuela to become its Latin American operating base. And still the Obama Administration refuses to acknowledge the country as a state sponsor of terrorism despite the country’s blatant support of covert Iranian fundamentalist organizations.
Where Venezuela leads, the rest of Latin America’s left will follow, as evidenced by Iran’s growing diplomatic and economic exchanges with Venezuela’s leftist allies. Most notable is Argentina’s increasingly warming relationship with Iran. Recently, Argentina’s leader, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, pledged to create a joint truth commission with Iran to investigate Tehran’s role in the 1994 terrorist attack on the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires—even though a Hezbollah-affiliated group has already been indicted for the crime and Iran’s role in the matter is all but certain. According to national security expert Douglas Farah, Kirchner’s intention is “absolving senior Iranian leaders of their responsibility in a major terrorist attack.”
From attempting to smuggle foreign agents onto U.S. soil to partnering with state sponsors of terrorism, Venezuela should definitely be keeping the Obama Administration up at night.