15 May 2012 ~ 0 Comentarios

Cuba after Hugo Chávez

by Carlos Alberto Montaner


(The Miami Herald) The most complex part of the inheritance left by Hugo Chávez are the relations between Venezuela and Cuba. The existing ones were built on the strange emotional, political and ideological subordination of the Bolivarian leader to Fidel Castro and do not respond to the interests or preferences of the Venezuelans.

In survey after survey, more than 82 percent of Venezuelans (meaning that many of them are pro-Chávez) responded that they don’t want the installation of a political model based on Cuba. Presumably, a similar percentage does not agree that Venezuela should continue to subsidize, with billions of dollars, the pig-headed and unproductive collectivism imposed by the Castro brothers.

Why did Chávez turn Venezuela into Cuba’s deep-pocketed financier? The reasons are several, but the most important one is that the lieutenant colonel found in Fidel Castro a sort of spiritual and political guide who advised him what to do and how and when he should do it. Fidel was his guru, his moral father, his protector against the dangers that threatened him in Venezuela and almost took his power and life in April 2002.

In addition, Fidel endowed him with a vision compatible with Marxism and an epic internationalist mission that would forever consign Chávez to history: to defeat the United States and bury capitalism. Between Fidel’s wisdom, enriched by three decades of training under the Holy Soviet Mother, and Chávez’s impetuous youth, aided by his bountiful river of petrodollars, the two would triumph in the task of saving the world, traitorously abandoned by the USSR.

How much was that ideological, strategic, police-backed protectorate, so different from the untrustworthy universe of his own corrupt collaborators, worth to Chávez? It was worth whatever Fidel needed and asked for. Chávez delivered himself completely to the comandante, his only source of security.

There was a point where both leaders, united in the same delirium, planned to federate both countries and even created a joint commission of jurists who began to study how to carry out that process. On the way, Chávez increasingly placed himself under the authority of the very skilled Cuban intelligence service, an organization that fed him information about his military brass, his ministers and close collaborators.

Today, nobody around Chávez dares to speak, out of fear of Havana’s microphones. True, the opposition is controlled or watched by “the Cubans,” but the siege and humiliating harassment of the Chavistas is much more intense.

When Chávez exits the stage, whoever replaces him in Miraflores Palace, even if pro-Chávez, should question the sense of prolonging that sick relationship, built on the emotional allegiance of a codependent leader who no longer exists and worried most about controlling and spying on his own ruling class. Why fear a poverty-stricken island that lives from the handouts of a colony that’s infinitely richer, more powerful and sophisticated?

Venezuelan political scientist Aníbal Romero usually says that Castro’s internationalist efforts have always ended in failure. Castro-sponsored guerrillas, sometimes led by the Cubans themselves, were defeated throughout Latin America in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. They barely succeeded in Nicaragua, paradoxically aided by the governments of Venezuela and Costa Rica, but only to lose power one decade later in democratic elections.

Peru’s Velasco Alvarado, Panama’s Manuel Noriega and Chile’s Salvador Allende, rulers aligned with Havana, were evicted from power, something Cuba could do nothing to prevent. Angola and Ethiopia today have regimes that are nothing like the communist models that were originally imposed at the cost of Cuban blood. Who says that Castro’s influence will be preserved in Venezuela after Chávez’s death? What for?

Cuba specializes in losing. That has been its history.

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