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U.S. says Cuban spies directly advise Chavez: leak
CARACAS (Reuters) - Cuban intelligence services directly advise Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in what a U.S. diplomat called the "Axis of Mischief," according to a U.S. State Department cable released by the WikiLeaks website.
The 2006 diplomatic message expressed concern about Cuba's influence in one of the United State's top oil suppliers.
"While the economic impact of Cubans working in Venezuela may be limited, Cuban intelligence has much to offer to Venezuela's anti-U.S. intelligence services," said the cable posted on WikiLeaks website (wikileaks.org) on Wednesday.
During 12 years on office, the socialist Chavez has forged close ties with Cuba's Castro brothers, subsidizing the communist island's economy with cheap oil in return for thousands of doctors and advisers who operate in the country.
Chavez, a former soldier, has incorporated Cuban-style militias in the armed forces and experts on Venezuela have long said the Cuban intelligence services train Chavez's personal security detail.
However, the leaked document implied Chavez trusts Cuban information almost more than his own intelligence services.
"Cuban intelligence officers have direct access to Chavez and frequently provide him with intelligence reporting unvetted by Venezuelan officers," the report said.
"Sensitive reports indicate Cuban and Venezuelan intelligence ties are so advanced that the two countries' agencies appear to be competing with each other for the BRV's (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela's) attention."
The cable was part of a cache of more than 250,000 State Department documents WikiLeaks released either to media outlets or on its website this week. It did not reveal the sources behind the "sensitive reports." The document was classified by U.S. diplomat Robert Downes, the U.S. Embassy's political counselor in Caracas at the time.
It was titled "Cuba/Venezuela Axis of Mischief: The view from Caracas," in an apparent reference to former U.S. President George W. Bush's "axis of evil" -- a term for three countries he accused of supporting terrorism.
(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Doina Chiacu)
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