Informacion economica sobre Cuba

With Worries for Its Economic Future, Cuba Bids a Sad Goodbye to a

Generous Ally


Published: March 6, 2013

Granma, the Communist Party newspaper, turned its red masthead to black

and white — a gesture Cubans said was rare — and dedicated six of its

eight pages to Mr. Chávez's life, his death on Tuesday, and his legacy.

In a statement that covered the front page and was read on national

television on Tuesday night, the government hailed Mr. Chávez as a Cuban

and pledged its "resolved and unwavering support for the Bolivarian

Revolution in these difficult days."

"The Cuban people consider him one of their most accomplished sons, and

they have admired him, followed him and loved him as one of their own,"

the government said in the statement. "Chávez is also a Cuban."

Flags at government buildings flew at half-staff after the government

declared two days of official mourning, and canceled concerts and other

public events on Friday. In Havana, where the Venezuelan leader battled

cancer at a military hospital enveloped in secrecy and spent much of his

last three months, some Cubans said they were deeply saddened by Mr.

Chávez's passing.

Even those who had little time for his brand of socialism wondered if

Cuba would descend into an economic chasm, much as it did in the 1990s,

after the Soviet Union collapsed.

Cuba receives more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day from Venezuela,

purchased on favorable terms as part of an exchange that has tens of

thousands of Cubans working in Venezuelan clinics, schools and

ministries. The subsidized oil accounts for about two-thirds of Cuba's

consumption and is credited by many Cubans with keeping the lights on

and the air-conditioners running during the brutal summer heat.

"A shudder ran through my body," Marina Suárez, 48, said of the moment

when she heard the news of Mr. Chávez's death. She added, "He has died,

but for me, he is as alive as ever."

Ms. Suárez was confident that Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela's interim

president and a Chavista, would win election and retain close ties with

Cuba. "With everything that Chávez did for the poor, for his people, for

all peoples — how could they not vote for Maduro?" she asked.

Luis, a 39-year old engineer who did not want his full name to be

published because talking about politics in Cuba is very delicate, was

more skeptical.

"It's scary. If there is a change in Venezuela, they won't keep the deal

like it is," he said, referring to the subsidized oil.

The government would have to come up with a plan that did not depend on

another nation's largess, he said.

"You can't have what happens inside your home depend on your neighbor,"

Luis added. "If your neighbor dies, then what? You don't eat? We need to

be self-sufficient. But this system will never be self-sufficient."

Were Mr. Maduro to be defeated, or simply decide that Venezuela could no

longer afford to subsidize Cuba, the government would have to speed

economic reforms, added Luis, who recently began working for himself

under a two-year-old program to encourage private enterprise.

"Cubans remember the special period," he said, referring to the severe

economic hardships of the 1990s. "They won't put up with another special


Other Chávez allies around the world were grappling with his death as

well. The Iranian government declared a day of mourning on Wednesday and

local news media reported that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would

attend Mr. Chávez's funeral on Friday in Caracas. Through several trips

to Iran, Mr. Chávez forged a strong, if controversial, alliance that has

drawn Iranian construction companies to several projects in Venezuela

and deepened their financial ties.

Mr. Ahmadinejad said that Mr. Chávez would surely return to earth once

the Shiite 12th Imam, who according to the sect's beliefs is a messiah,

would come to liberate the world.

"I have no doubt he will come again along with all the righteous people

and the Prophet Jesus and the only successor of the righteous

generation, the perfect human," Mr. Ahmadinejad said, adding that Mr.

Chávez had died of a "suspicious illness" — a reference to theories

espoused by some Venezuelan officials and allies that Mr. Chávez's

cancer was somehow the work of the United States government.

In Cuba, state television and radio broke into regular programming on

Tuesday night to show an extended newscast about Mr. Chávez's death and

broadcast coverage from Telesur, the Venezuelan news channel. A Cuban

official said he could not yet confirm whether Raúl Castro or Fidel, who

is very ill, would go to Caracas for the funeral.

Members of the Venezuelan community, Cuban officials and diplomats,

meanwhile, gathered at the Venezuelan Embassy in Havana, on a wide

boulevard in an upscale neighborhood, on Tuesday to offer condolences.

Applause and shouts of "Viva Chávez" could be heard from the sidewalk

outside. But elsewhere, the streets were quiet; some residents of Old

Havana said they heard little music from the salsa bars on Tuesday night.

Thomas Erdbrink contributed reporting from Tehran.

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