Cuba's influence in Venezuela is growing

El Nuevo HeraldMarch 5, 2009 

Cuban influence in Venezuela is growing beyond politics in a broad range of areas, from agriculture and commerce to energy and education - and even presidential security.

Some 40,000 Cubans are now working in Venezuela, and the island has received millions of dollars in petroleum subsidies that sway between 90,000 and 130,000 barrels a day, according to some estimates.

Hector Navarro, Venezuela's minister of education, revealed last month that a group of Cuban experts are giving his government lessons in public education.

"Cubans are advising on how to measure the educational impact in mathematics and language arts," Navarro told the Caracas daily El Universal. "It is about creating [ways to gauge] the competency that our students must handle."

Until now, the most notable Cuban activity had centered on the Barrio Adentro program, which places Cuban healthcare, education and social service workers in low-income neighborhoods throughout Venezuela.

Cuban influence has quietly broadened to include less visible sectors, though critically more strategic and political in scope.

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