The outsize role that Castro has played in Chavez’s ordeal with cancer has brought into sharp relief not only the personal, even paternal nature of their relationship, but also how vital Chavez’s health is to Cuba’s archaic communist system.
The links the two leaders have forged are based on heartfelt kinship, Chavez’s government says. But the Cubans also have a lot riding on Chavez, who on Wednesday announced that he may undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Since taking office in 1999, Chavez has shipped tens of billions of dollars in subsidized oil to the island.
The Cubazuela project is well under way,
Here in Venezuela, some of the trappings of Cuba’s system are clearly evident: a powerful state propaganda apparatus; the state seizure of companies; the spread of fervent, pro-government neighborhood groups; and the use of the military slogan “Fatherland, socialism or death!”
But in spite of the revolutionary partnership, Venezuela clearly plays the more important role. With huge oil reserves, it replaced the benefactor to Cuba that was lost with the Soviet Union’s breakup two decades ago. The 100,000 barrels of oil Cuba receives each day literally keep the lights on, particularly vital now as the Cuban government tinkers with economic liberalization measures to stay afloat.
Chavez is financing the Cuban dictatorship, while being Fidel’s pupil. Fidel is counting the dollar signs
“So if, let’s just say the Venezuelan subsidy ended for whatever reason, Cuba would have a pretty short window — probably weeks, no more than a month or two — to make some very, very severe adjustments,” said Brian Latell, a former CIA analyst and the author of “After Fidel: The Inside Story of Castro’s Regime and Cuba’s Next Leader.”
Certainly the Cuban Communist regime is aware that there will be no continuing support of that magnitude once Chavez is out of office.
While the US media is mostly ignoring Chavez’s condition, its conclusion will have intense repercussions in the political landscape of Latin America. They will first be felt in Cuba.