Facing a Complex Situation / Fernando Damaso

After a prolonged ordeal, which saw the release of more political statements than medical reports on his state of health — all in an effort to keep hope for a recovery alive in a society as convulsive as Venezuela’s — its president has passed away.

Aside from what this loss means for his country as well as for the left and for Latin American and Caribbean populism — his stature as a charismatic leader makes it difficult to replace him with any of the officialdom’s current leaders — it will lead to many problems after the initial period of grief and mourning has passed. Once people’s lives get back to normal, uncertainty will loom over our country.

Accustomed to living off subsidies from other countries — first for more than thirty years from the former USSR and the defunct Socialist camp, and later from a chavista Venezuela — we once again find ourselves in a disadvantaged position, without having resolved our long economic crisis, and without having created either the conditions or the mechanisms for doing so.

We were committed heart and soul to political and economic agreements with Venezuela, mainly with its president, who in most instances made decisions and took actions based on his own personal judgement, which did not always correspond to the interests of his country, as he tried to emulate Bolívar. Now that he is physically gone, no one can predict how the new authorities will act, and whether they will be confirmed or replaced in the coming constitutionally mandated elections. In the end what happens in Venezuela will not be determined by Cubans, regardless of all the official expressions of support for the chavista authorities, but rather by the Venezuelan people in the exercise of their rights as citizens of a free and sovereign nation that does not tolerate foreign interference.

This complex situation for Venezuela, a country rich in petroleum, is even more complex for Cuba, a poor country without properly utilized resources. I think that our authorities, both before and now in the face of this new reality, have been and are analyzing how to avoid the tempest blowing our way. After two disasters we are trying to resolve once and for all our economic problems by ourselves rather than continuing to look to others to pull our chestnuts out of the fire.

7 March 2013