Algeria ousts its dictator, Cuba experiences a sugar-daddy shortage

Algeria's longtime socialist strongman, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, got thrown out of power this week, following 20 years of what even he admits was failed rule.  He got thrown out the way they all pretty much do, given the predictable-as-sunrise failure of socialism.  He was hardly the worst of them; he just seems to have gotten too old to stay a strongman.

Fine and dandy.  What's cool, though, is that Bouteflika's exit creates some problems — big problems — for the Castro dictatorship over in Cuba.

Bouteflika was one of their longtime candymen, sending funds to prop up the otherwise unsustainable regime through his employment of the Castroite Cuban doctors program, which brought the regime big cash.

Here's a Reuters report that ran just a few days before Bouteflika got his boot:

HAVANA (Reuters) — Cuba faces yet another threat to its exports of health services in exchange for oil and money as social unrest roils old friend Algeria, even as a new deal to mitigate declining support from crisis-racked Venezuela kicks in.


The North African country is a major oil and gas producer and has been a friend of Cuba ever since former leader Fidel Castro sent doctors and troops there in the early 1960s as it threw off the yoke of rule by Paris.

Communist-run Cuba has seen its foreign exchange revenues and fuel imports on preferential terms from socialist ally and economic partner Venezuela steadily fall since 2014, leading to stagnation, austerity measures, scattered shortages and late payments to foreign partners.

Turns out Algeria under Bouteflika was a very, very important cash source for Cuba, trading its medical mercenaries (who, the New York Times notes, serve a dual-role as "free health care" — and regime propper-uppers at election time).  They're useful tools to any busy dictatorship.

It's quite likely that the replacement regime in Algeria is going to want to continue with them.  Why prop up an overseas dictatorship that helped the last Algerian dictatorship?  There's a distinct chance the Cubans will be sent packing.  Brazil threw its Cubans out when Jair Bolsonaro was elected president.  These new Algerians may do the same.

This puts the Castro dictatorship in a quandary. 

For decades, it's always needed a sugar daddy to prop its dictatorship up.  That's because socialism is always unsustainable, no matter where it's been tried.  The Castro dictatorship has managed to last longer than most because it's had the socialist cachet other socialists have always hankered after.  So a regime like Algeria, which has a base of oil from which to finance itself for a while (as did Cuba's other sugar-daddy, Venezuela, until socialism collapsed its production), is a lifeline to the Cuban regime.

Rats ate it.

Venezuela is not helping much, either.  The sugar-daddies and sweetheart deals are drying up.

What's left is Putin, and Russia cut off support for Cuba a long time ago.  That may change now, and Russia's price will be the wherewithal to challenge the U.S. on the military front, which, if it chooses to jump in, would enable it to be a greater menace to us.

But there's also the possibility that Russia won't bite.  It's already up to its ears in defending Venezuela because of all the money Venezuela owes (reportedly $17 billion) Russia, and that's expensive.  Now Cuba will have its hand out, raising the costs of this little imperial adventure.

Bottom line: Cuba is in a quandary.  Its sugar-daddy supply is now seeing shortages.

What would socialism be without shortages?

Image credit: Alan Turkus via FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0.

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