Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cuba Prepared in Advance for the Venezuela Crisis

Cuba Prepared in Advance for the Venezuela Crisis / Juan Juan Almeida
Posted on December 22, 2015

Juan Juan Almeida, 22 December 2015 — In addition to a being a major
victory for the Venezuelan opposition over the Bolivarian coalition led
by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), many analysts have
claimed that the December 6 elections in Venezuela could also lead to a
something approaching an energy crisis in Cuba.

I do not think it is true that, after years of mismanagement, the Chavez
movement exacerbated the country's divisions, insulted the dignity of
its people and, in return, got what it deserved: punishment at the
ballot box, which — as in the story of Cinderella — turned an
allegorical carriage into a hideous pumpkin.

The results upended the order of the Venezuelan National Assembly and
undoubtedly dealt a hard blow to the Latin American left. But I would be
hasty — perhaps even impulsive if not downright reckless — to claim that
this important event could unleash a socio-economic crisis in our
country, Cuba, similar to that experienced during the harsh years of the
Special Period.

The truth is I have enormous respect for expert analysts of Cuban
issues, especially those who do not take refuge in partisan positions.
But to claim that the island's government did not prepare for the
looming quagmire from the moment it learned of Hugo Chavez' illness is
either to underestimate the demonstrably farsighted nature of Cuba's
leaders or to deny that the island's economic performance, as measured
by published but not yet released statistics, has shown some degree of
growth that did not result from Venezuelan crude.

The reports that were coming out of Caracas and raining down on the
offices of Cuba's intelligence experts were as ample as a May downpour.
Havana knew before anyone else of the enormous difficulties that
Venezuelan officials were facing. It skillfully managed the growing
tensions between Nicolas Maduro and his Siamese twin: the Speaker of the
National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello. It analyzed in minute detail every
aspect of the petroleum supply.

Even if it could have hypothetically gained all 167 seats in the
National Assembly, the Venezuelan opposition would have had to think
long and hard about fulfilling its campaign promise to cut off fuel
supplies to Cuba. It knows that this is not really a gift but rather a
bilateral exchange between two countries in which Venezuela supplies
petroleum and Cuba exports thousands of professionals to work in a
variety of social programs, most notably those related to health care.

Since the fall of the Soviet bloc, the Cuban government has learned to
never again put all its eggs in one basket. It has a plan A, B, C, D and
even a plan E (for Estados Unidos, or United States). The Venezuelan
opposition knew they did not have a better (or cheaper) solution for
confronting the country's health problems. And with crude oil prices as
low as $40 a barrel, they could not — or they could but should not —
reverse course and turn down for political reasons the hundreds of Cuban
doctors who treat thousands of poor families in Venezuela.

On the contrary. By leaving well enough alone, or even improving upon
it, they not only would preserve an important social investment, they
would also retain the votes of a strategic and valuable constituency.
It's gone for many years; it's called politics.

Source: Cuba Prepared in Advance for the Venezuela Crisis / Juan Juan
Almeida | Translating Cuba -

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