Maria Garcia, president of the Cuban American Bar AssociationMaria Garcia, president of the Cuban American Bar Association and an attorney with Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton

 

The Cuban American Bar Association released a statement on Monday stiffly condemning the Cuban government for its ongoing support of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as much of the international community now recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s president.

“To-date, more than fifty countries worldwide recognize Juan Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela,” said CABA President and Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton attorney Maria Garcia in a statement. “Notwithstanding, the Cuban government finds itself among the list of nations, including China and Russia, who maintain steadfast support for Nicolas Maduro’s repressive, illegitimate regime in Venezuela.”

Cuba and Venezuela forged economic ties after Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999: Venezuela and its state-owned oil giant PDVSA shipped oil to embargo-stricken Cuba in return for medical and security services. But experts say the double-barrel shot of a contracting economy and severe economic sanctions in Venezuela may trigger a collateral economic crisis in Cuba: Venezuelan cuts in Cuban oil subsidies.

This connection is the foundation of CABA’s latest criticism.

“This economic relationship highlights Cuba’s favored method of foreign relations: lending, and profiting from, its professional human capital abroad in order to further cement its relationship with other ideologically like-minded nations,” Garcia said. “Nicolas Maduro’s ability to cling to power has been heavily bolstered by aid from the Cuban regime.”

One-thousand members strong, CABA has long been a vocal voice on Cuban-American relations. For years CABA had been largely made up of pro-embargo Cuban-Americans, many with direct experience of Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution. In 2016, CABA wrote a letter imploring President Barack Obama to cancel a trip to Cuba on the basis of the island’s human rights record. In 2018, CABA successfully pushed for the cancellation of a trip to Cuba by the International Law Section of the Florida Bar.

Easing diplomatic relations and increased foreign direct investment during the Obama administration brought about a temporary change of tone, as attorneys began to explore the isolated country’s business climate. But CABA came out in support of President Donald Trump’s administration when it announced it would allow Cuban-Americans to go forward with lawsuits against the Cuban government for land they say was confiscated by Castro’s revolutionary government, a rally cry for Cuban exiles for decades.

“[It] is a step in the right direction to continue to promote the advancement of democracy and truly free elections in Cuba, as well as hold the Cuban government accountable for its role in the current instability in Venezuela through their support of the Maduro regime,” CABA told the Daily Business Review in a statement.

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