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    Electoral Defeat in Venezuela Could Accelerate Reforms in Cuba

    Electoral Defeat in Venezuela Could Accelerate Reforms in Cuba / Ivan Garcia
    Posted on December 16, 2015

    Iván García, Diario de las Américas, 8 December 2015 — Just past
    midnight, when Cuba’s military bigwigs heard the president of the
    Venezuelan electoral college, Tibisay Lucena, confirm the loss of
    Nicolas Maduro’s PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela) in the
    December 6 parliamentary elections, alarm bells went off in the offices
    of Cuba’s Palace of the Revolution.

    The epicenter of the Venezuelan political earthquake shook official
    Cuba, the one made up of timid statesmen, irresponsible officials and
    radical ideologues who try to govern a nation by adding one plus zero.

    The virtual country designed by Raul Castro’s advisors — those who have
    hidden Cuba’s structural, political, economic and social problems — is a
    double-edged sword.

    Maintaining an iron fisted-control over the island’s media has allowed
    them to present to the world the image of a society made up of a
    pleasant, committed people by means of a publicity stunt called the
    Cuban Revolution.

    It did exist, but after 1976 it became a nation with an
    institutionalized Soviet court that used Marxism as its political guidebook.

    Thanks to an efficient intelligence apparatus, the Castro brothers have
    governed the country without having to deal with popular protests by
    suppressing a tiny domestic dissident movement whose tactical errors
    have shown it does not known how or has not been able to connect with
    the average Cuban.
    Cuba managed to export its inane economic ideology to Venezuela. When
    Colonel Hugo Rafael Chavez was nothing more than the leader of a coup,
    Fidel Castro saw in him a future statesman.

    After Chavez was released from prison, Castro welcomed him to Havana
    with the pomp and circumstance befitting a president. Chavez’ mentor
    monitored his every move. Given Castro’s skill, he was able to install
    in Caracas’ presidential palace something better than an ideological and
    strategic ally. He installed a ventriloquist.

    The Castro brothers can claim one unquestionable accomplishment: they
    now exert remote control over a nation with three times the population,
    GDP and natural resources of their own.

    When corruption, popular discontent and uncontrolled poverty allowed
    Hugo Chavez to enter Venezuelan politics through the back door, he
    carried a portfolio whose outlines had been drawn by his mentor, Fidel.

    The biggest mistake of Chavez, Maduro and the Castros has been to govern
    only for the benefit of their supporters. There have been other major
    blunders, such as the ideologization of education, the nationalization
    of private businesses and the dismantling of the machinery of a
    functioning economy.
    Caracas’ response has been to blame the eternal enemies: Yankee
    imperialism, the bourgeoisie and the local business community. In spite
    of his corruption scandals, Brazil’s President Lula and Uruguay’s
    President Mujica showed themselves to be different kinds of leftists.

    Like good travel companions, the Brazilian and Uruguayan presidents
    supported or quieted the excesses and absurdities of their ideological
    partners on the international stage. But they did not fracture their
    societies like Chavez or the Castros did.

    Chavez’s megalomania became a hindrance. The death of the paratrooper
    from Sabaneta de Barinas, like that of any leader, left an
    insurmountable power vacuum.

    If Maduro had been prudent, he would have formed alliances with the
    opposition in order to get through the downturn. By the time he came to
    power, conditions had changed. The export boom in raw materials was over
    and oil prices had plunged, but he failed to properly assess the situation.

    Nicolas Maduro’s frequent foolish statements, profanity and insults will
    not put an end to inflation, currency depreciation, organized crime,
    food shortages or social tensions in Venezuela.

    More than the Venezuelan opposition, the PSUV’s main contender is the
    people, and on December 6 they spoke. What could happen going forward?

    If Maduro does not alter his political strategy, disaster awaits him,
    either through some form of recall before 2019 or through a substantial
    and continuing loss of power.

    If he had any decency, he would resign as president. After countless
    missteps in running the country, record violence, official corruption
    and two relatives of his wife accused of drug trafficking, the best way
    out for Maduro, and for preserving Chavez’ legacy, would be for him to
    leave office.

    But I do not think this will happen. People like him derive their
    authority by going against the tide. Diplomacy is not their strength.
    Quite the opposite with Raul Castro. When he became president in 2006,
    few would have bet a penny on him.

    He had a reputation as a drunkard and a shadowy conspirator. He came to
    power only because he was Fidel’s brother. The relief pitcher came along
    at a critical moment. He faced a stagnant economy in crisis and a
    political prisoner, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who had died in jail from a
    hunger strike.

    Raul was besieged in the international arena by the United States and
    the European Union due to his brother’s disastrous policy decision to
    jail seventy-five dissidents in the spring of 2003.

    But the Cuban autocrat knows how to negotiate a favorable treaty with
    the White House and the EU without easing up on his repression of
    dissidents or changing the status quo too much.

    Raul Castro is an expert at blowing smoke. A year after December 17 he
    has not implemented a strategy in response to President Obama’s road map.

    Perhaps the electoral drubbing in Venezuela on December 6 combined with
    the unstoppable exodus of Cubans will encourage him to adopt of serious
    reforms. Though you never know with the Castros.

    Source: Electoral Defeat in Venezuela Could Accelerate Reforms in Cuba /
    Ivan Garcia | Translating Cuba –
    translatingcuba.com/electoral-defeat-in-venezuela-could-accelerate-reforms-in-cuba-ivan-garcia/

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