Rosanna Marquez/ Contributing Writer
The University’s Cuban Research Institute will be hosting a panel discussion on the political and economic relationship between Cuba and Venezuela.
For the panel, titled, “A Special Relationship: The Political & Economic Links between Cuba and Venezuela,” the Cuban Research Institute is partnering with the Latin American and Caribbean Center to make an in-depth analysis on the various components that make up the complicated Cuban and Venezuelan alliance.
Both University departments often work together to coordinate events, considering that their targets of research oftentimes overlap when discussing the paradigms between related countries.
This is especially true in the instance of the Cuban-Venezuelan alliance that has developed significantly over the last ten years.
Miami alone has the largest demographic of Cubans outside of Cuba in the world. In addition, the largest concentration of Venezuelans in the United States is in South Florida, particularly in the suburbs of Doral and Weston, with over 100,00 people residing in the state.
This discussion is intended to explore the complexities of the relationship between the two countries that also heavily influence the sociopolitical sphere in our state today.
Associate Director of the Cuban Research Institute, Sebastián Arcos, stated that both departments felt it was a good idea to coincide their research in order to explore the dynamics of this complicated relationship.
“Cuba and Venezuela have been closely related since Hugo Chavez won the presidential election in 1999,” said Arcos. “Since Chavez’s death, the connection continues, and many scholars argue that Venezuela has become a Cuban satellite.”
Arcos continued noting that the relationship is unique in that a smaller and impoverished country is seemingly delegating a larger, economically established country.
The event will feature key speakers: Carlos Antonio Romero Mendez, Javier Corrales, Manuel A. Gomez and Maria Werlau.
Each speaker will cover a facet of the alliance’s infrastructure. The idea is to explain the extents of these connections between the two countries and discuss what factors are involved in the functionality of the relationship.
One of the topics deals with how Cuba has deployed thousands of doctors in order to provide medical assistance to the Venezuelan government and its people.
A keynote of the discussion is how the medical relations between both countries have cemented their relationship and how it is an interdependent and mutually beneficial affiliation for both governments.
Students were asked to offer their thoughts on the discussion.
Some expressed enthusiasm and excitement for the event.
“It’s great, in my opinion, that the University is hosting the panel,” said Kristal Perez-Rocha, a senior international relations major. “The topic fits the environment of FIU, since there’s such a huge Cuban influence, and nowadays you can’t really talk about Cuba without talking about Venezuela.”
Others shared a similar sentiment.
“Well, I would go if I could,” said Andres Rocabado, a freshman psychology major. “I like these sorts of talks, and being Venezuelan makes it even more relevant to my life. Things are changing in both countries and this topic brings to light changes in both Cuba and Venezuela.”
Maria Werlau of the Cuba Archive and one of the speakers for the event has done extensive research on the Cuban medical missions in Venezuela.
Her research covers the impact of the medical care in Venezuela and how it affects the domestic perception of foreign aid within the country.
Her focus in the discussion will explore how the medical missions have affected the relationship between both governments.
Legal issues will also be discussed.
Manuel A. Gomez, a professor of law, will lead a panel on the legal and political implications of the affiliation.
The legal infrastructures of both Venezuela and Cuba have been closely entwined since the political affinities between Chavez and Fidel Castro. These relations have extended unto their successors Nicolas Madura and Raul Castro.
In addition, Carlos Antonio, a Venezuelan political scientist, will discuss the domestic reception of the Venezuelan people to the Cuban aid.
His discussion will encompass a personable piece that will explore how Venezuelans perceive the Cuban alliance within the country.
Although the event will be free and open to the public, it requires registration at www.eventbrite.com.
It will be held at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus Graham Center, Room 140 at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8.
Additional reporting done by Adrian Suarez Avila.