The April 14 elections in Venezuela should have strengthened the Castros’ influence in the South American country. The one chosen, Nicolas Maduro , was Havana’s man. The electoral victory would legitimize him in Venezuela, in the world and within the ranks of the Chavistas. The Venezuelan opposition would be demoralized. They would not have to use violent repression to neutralize it. The dictatorial machinery would drown it slowly drown.
There was no reason to doubt the election results. On the death of Chavez the media and pollsters reported that the popularity of Maduro assured him the presidency by a substantial margin. The Castro regime ruling elite was happy, Venezuelan oil would continue to maneuver a transition the Vietnam model.
With the triumph of Maduro the Cuban democratic opposition would be demoralized. Immigration reform and the exit of dissidents would leave the impression that the era of change had begun. Eventually the Obama administration would allow U.S. Tourism to travel to Cuba to spend billions of dollars. Then they would lift the embargo and investments coming from the United States would save the recycled dictatorship.
Then the unexpected happened. Maduro’s campaign began to take on water while Enrique Capriles improved his position. Nor did the pre-planned fraud scheme ensure victory for Maduro. The Chavista power elite was forced to resort to crude methods of intimidation and fraud. And they still didn’t win, they had to steal the election.
The rest is developing day by day. Nicolas Maduro has been losing prestige inside and outside of Venezuela. The Venezuelan opposition has acted very cleverly to demand a vote recount and calling for international solidarity.
Raul Castro and his octogenarian never imagined a scenario as unfavorable and potentially unstable. Definitely not the victory they planned, expected and needed.
9 May 2013