Sunday, February 23, 2014

Opposition Protests in Venezuela Worry Not A Few Ordinary Cubans

Opposition Protests in Venezuela Worry Not A Few Ordinary Cubans / Ivan
Posted on February 23, 2014

One way or another, the street protests taking place recently in
Venezuela are being noticed in Cuba. The most nervous are the olive
green autocrats.

According to a low-ranking party official, since the death of Hugo
Chavez, the regime has had several contingency plans in its drawer, in
case the situation in Venezuela were not favorable to the interests of
the Island.

"If Maduro falls there exists a plan B. In the corridors, at least at
the level where I work, it was assumed that Maduro might be a president
with a fleeting career. Although the PSUV (United Socialist Party of
Venezuela) has controlled a large number of the threads of power, there
are divergent opinions among the Chavez followers themselves about the
relationship of their country with Cuba. This kind of socialism, with
democratic streaks, is not reliable. Maduro might lose power either by a
recall referendum or within six years. In meetings of our nucleus it is
commented that Maduro's term in office only serves to buy time," the
official notes.

The earthquake of marches, barricades and opposition protests shocks
different regions of Venezuela, but the epicenter shakes the corridors
of power in Cuba.

The Castro brothers risk a lot in Caracas. Just in case, Raul Castro
opened a window to Brazil in the new Mariel Port and Special Development
Zone with a different jurisdiction.

And he almost begs the United States, his number one enemy, to sit down
and negotiate. Meanwhile, the Castro diplomacy travels Florida, trying
to seduce the wealthiest businessmen of Cuban origin. Although sensible
businessmen would keep thinking. When they look at the recent past, they
only see shady dealings and a cryptic partner who at the first exchange
transforms the rules of the game. Therefore, the Caribbean autocracy is
going to have to fight dog-faced and with gritted teeth its strategic
position in Venezuela.

The key, you know, is oil. 100 thousand barrels daily acquired at a
bargain price so that Cubans do not suffer outages 12 hours a day. When
the paratrooper of Barinas (Hugo Chavez) arrived at Miraflores in 1998,
Fidel Castro understood that after nine years of crossing through the
desert, with finances in the red and exotic illnesses devastating the
country, the hour of his resurrection had arrived.

Cuba entered the light phase of the Special Period. After the fall of
the Berlin Wall, the country continued in a fixed economic crisis, but
the loyal Bolivarian shared his strongbox. And it was an important piece
of the anti-imperialist project that so excited the commander.

The death of Chavez was the beginning of the end of the honeymoon.
Maduro is loyal and is allowed to drive. But he does not have charisma.
And after 14 years of foolish economics in pursuit of gaining followers
among the most disadvantaged, the debts, violence and inflation have
exploded in the face of the PSUV.

Maduro, stubborn and awkward, instead of releasing the uncomfortable and
parasitic ballast of Cuba, to govern for all and look more to Lula and
Dilma than to the Castros, moved his pieces incorrectly.

He tried to continue the Joropo and the booze party of comrade Chavez.
He designed a simple strategy: he shouldered his comrade's coffin and
tries to govern in his name.

And it is failing. In Cuba, because of selfishness or a short term
mentality, the ordinary people, tired from 55 years of disasters, cross
their fingers and hope that the Venezuelan crisis does not close the oil
spigot opened by PDVSA (Venezuela's state-owned oil and gas company).

In a park in the Havana neighborhood of Vibora, several retired people
opine about the situation in Venezuela. "If that is screwed, what
happens to us is going to be huge. The blackouts will return, industry
will be paralyzed again and we will return to a phase the same as or
worse than the beginning of the Special Period in 1990," says a man of
about 70 years of age.

Others are less pessimistic. "It's true, it will be hard. Since the
revolution triuimphed we have been accustomed to living at the expense
of foreign sweat. Before it was the USSR, now Venezuela. If the worst
happens there, here reforms will accelerate. Although this is already
capitalism, but with low salaries," points out a woman who identifies
herself as a housewife.

A university student adds to the conversation. "Seeing the marches or
strikes on television is something that I envy. That freedom of
protesting in front of the governmental institutions, as in Ukraine or
Venezuela, we need it in Cuba." And he adds that "in the meetings of the
FEU (Federated University Students), the situation in Venezuela is a top
priority topic, but I have heard rumors that in some Party cores the
alarm is greater."

In this warm February, in spite of the news that arrives from Caracas,
the ordinary people continue on their own. Standing in long lines to buy
potatoes that have disappeared. Going to farmer's markets in search of
other tubers, vegetables and fruits. Or sitting down at the neighborhood
corner to talk about movies, fashion, soccer or baseball.

And so it is that for many on the Island, Venezuela is not on their agenda.

Diario de Cuba, 23 February 2014, Ivan Garcia, Havana

Translated by mlk.

Source: Opposition Protests in Venezuela Worry Not A Few Ordinary Cubans
/ Ivan Garcia | Translating Cuba -

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