Cuban Missile Crisis: 5 ways leftist ideology lives on in Latin America

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the US and the Soviet Union were on the brink of nuclear war over the installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba.


  • close
    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaks after taking an oath with new cabinet ministers at Miraflores Palace in Caracas October 13, 2012. President Chavez recently won a re-election bid that could extend his rule to nearly two decades.
    Miraflores Palace/Handout/Reuters
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption

Venezuela has forged the closest ties with Cuba of any country in Latin America under President Hugo Chavez, who has called Fidel Castro a father figure. He also counts Che Guevara and independence leader Simon Bolivar among his mentors and inspiration. Venezuela has propped up the Cuban economy, especially with subsidized oil, while Cuban doctors have manned free health clinics across the poorest neighborhoods of Caracas.

But Venezuela is not Communist. Instead, Mr. Chavez, with his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), speaks of a brand of “21st century socialism.” That includes redistributing oil wealth to the nation’s poor in the form of social programs, and more controversially nationalizing key industries, including food companies and electricity. Chavez just won another six-year term in office. He is the loudest critic of US policy in the region, and has formed alliances with other US critics, such as Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and Rafael Correa in Ecuador.

2 of 5