Hugo Chavez / Rafael Leon Rodriguez

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Since Friday, March 15, the body of the elected president of Venezuela, Rafael Chávez Frías, has rested at the Montaña Barracks in the city of Caracas. His state funeral lasted for ten days during which time his followers, admirers and representatives from all over the planet came to pay their respects and show their solidarity.

The ones not at rest are his successors, who seem concerned about the possible outcome from upcoming presidential elections in April. Without Chávez it is unlikely that chavismo can survive. For the designated candidate, Nicolás Maduro, to win, he will have to overcome the challenge of governing a country plagued by violence and social insecurity, and threatened by a serious economic crisis.

For us Cubans the path the next Venezuelan government takes will undoubtedly have an effect on the period of political transition lying dormant in the heart of the nation. Cuba must not continue to be the anti-democratic exception among the peoples of the Americas. Being named to the presidency of CELAC* should have motivated Cuban authorities to adopt pluralism and to recognize political alternatives in Cuba. We trust that the current rulers of the island have at least taken note of the electoral practices of the late Hugo Chávez. May he rest in peace.

*Translator’s note: Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States).

21 March 2013