Qaddafi's Friends in Cuba

Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi may be losing allies left and right on his own continent but he's still got a friend across the Atlantic

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With the unrest in Libya and particularly with his recent public relations debacles, leader Muammar Qaddafi is rapidly losing any remaining fans. Yet down in South America, apparently, a few stalwarts remain.

Fidel Castro penned a column in Cuba's Granma, warning of Libya's appeal to the United States because of it's vast petroleum reserves. "For me it is absolutely evident that the United States is not worried about peace in Libya, and will not hesitate to give NATO the order to invade this rich country maybe in a matter of hours or very few days," he wrote. Perhaps tellingly, though, while the two leaders have been allies at times, Castro was reticent with outright support for Qaddafi, noting that "we have to wait the necessary time to know with rigor how much is fact or lie."

In a look at the history of Qaddafi's relationship with Venezuela, Caracas daily El Universal reported that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez proclaimed his support for Qaddafi last night in 2009*, claiming that "Qaddafi is to Libya as [Simon] Bolívar is to us." Simon Bolivar was involved in the liberation of much of Latin America from colonial rule. The superlatives didn't end there, Chavez calling Qaddafi a "revolutionary soldier," "a leader of of the Libyan revolution," and a "leader of all of Africa as well as Latin America."

Chavez and Qaddafi, both leaders of oil-rich nations, have had an unlikely relationship blossom between them in the past few years. El Universal reports that Chavez has visited Libya five times. Libya awarded Chavez with the "Qaddafi Human Rights Prize" in 2004. In March 2009, Qaddafi named a football stadium in Benghazi after Chavez. On his end, Chavez made Qaddafi the special guest at a conference between African and Latin American countries held on Venezuela's Isla Margarita later that year, where he also presented Qaddafi with a replica of Simon Bolivar's sword. Rumors were swirling as recently as last night that the Libyan strongman had made his way to Venezuela to seek shelter.

*A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that Chavez made his Bolivar comments about Qaddafi last night. They were in fact made in September 2009. Chavez has not commented about the current state of affairs in Libya.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.