Informacion economica sobre Cuba

16 April 2013 – 23H11

Venezuelan vote bad news for Cuba: analysts

AFP – Venezuela's disputed election result is bad news for the communist

regime in Cuba, which became heavily dependent on oil and hard currency

from Caracas under its late leader Hugo Chavez, analysts say.

Nicolas Maduro won a much closer than expected election to succeed

Chavez, but deadly protests have erupted after liberal opposition leader

Henrique Capriles demanded a recount.

"Cubans can't be cheering this result. They have to be worried that

Maduro proved so politically weak. The opposition has the momentum and

will define the agenda," said Michael Shifter, head of the

Inter-American Dialogue think tank.

With Maduro entering office with a much weaker mandate than his colorful

predecessor, the Castro-led regime may not enjoy the same economic

benefits, potentially threatening the communist island's lifeline.

"The sympathy effect for Chavez was fleeting, and Capriles was able to

capitalize," Shifter said.

A clause in Venezuela's constitution allows for a possible referendum to

revoke a president half way through his six-year term, a consideration

that will weigh on Maduro's foreign policy, after his narrow election win.

"The outcome could accelerate Cuba's reform process," Shifter told AFP,

alluding to the likely need for Maduro to focus his efforts on domestic


"The (Cuban) government will be compelled to pursue other economic options."

Venezuela supplies Cuba with two thirds of its oil on extremely good

terms: in exchange for 100,000 barrels of crude a day Havana has sent

some 40,000 experts to Venezuela, notably in the health sector.

Worth some $6 billion a year, the deal is Cuba's biggest source of cash,

well ahead of money sent home by expatriate Cubans ($2.5 billion),

tourism ($2 billion) or exports of nickel, tobacco and drugs (less than

$2 billion).

During the election campaign Capriles repeatedly attacked the "gifts"

sent from Venezuela to Cuba, calling Maduro "Cuba's candidate" and

demanding that Caracas cut off oil supplies to Havana.

"Cuba can't hope for anything good from political instability in

Venezuela," according to Cuban academic Arturo Lopez-Levy, from the

University of Denver.

"The Cuban government would do well to accelerate its reform process and

the opening up of its economic system, to prepare for various scenarios,

all of them less favorable than the current situation," he told AFP.

Paul Webster Hare, British ambassador to Cuba from 2001-2004 and a

former deputy head of Britain's mission in Caracas, added: "Cubans will

know now that the Chavista movement depended on Chavez for its

leadership and momentum.

"The Cubans will now conclude that their time for depending on the

largesse of Chavismo is limited," said the ex-diplomat, who now teaches

international relations at the University of Boston.

The lesson of Venezuela's disputed post-Chavez election should also be

borne in mind by Cuba's new number two, Miguel Diaz-Canel, the

designated successor of President Raul Castro, according to Hare.

"The key lesson may be that for Miguel Diaz-Canel to assume smoothly the

mantle of the Castros will be much tougher than they may have supposed,"

he said, noting that he has until 2018 to prove himself fitted to the

new reality.

Diaz-Canel, 53 this month, "may need to start talking more about the

material ambitions of Cubans," and "tell fewer fantasy stories" about

the state of the country, 54 years after the Revolution.

Marking the second anniversary of the 6th Congress of the Communist

Party of Cuba, which launched economic reforms, the official daily

Granma said Tuesday that "the tasks facing us are among the most complex

and important."

"They will have the biggest impact on reform of the Cuban economic

model," it added, without elaborating on the challenges facing the country.

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