As Chavez takes his time, Havana rules VenezuelaIASW | Friday, February 1st, 2013 | 1 Comment »
Latin American politics in the second decade of the 21st century are strange, to say the least. Other adjectives may apply. They reader may choose the most appropriate after reading this column.
Raúl Castro, the younger of two brothers who have ruled Cuba as their own sugar plantation for the last 55 years, assumed the presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) on Monday.
The organization, organized to preclude the influence of the United States in hemispheric affairs, also has a charter that promotes democracy. Yet its president this year is the only dictator in Latin America.
Outgoing president, Chile’s Sebastián Piñera, told the media that in a private conference with Castro he had asked the Cuban leader to help investigate the death of an ex-Chilean Sen. Jaime Guzmán, whose killers are supposedly living in the Caribbean island.
Yet nobody asked Castro about the dozens of Americans and hundreds of Cubans he was responsible for executing in Cuba. Or the thousands of Cubans killed or jailed. Those don’t count; most of that happened several decades ago. Under that logic one should not judge Germany’s Adolf Hitler too harshly either; the Holocaust took place more than 70 years ago.
Do not misinterpret me. I am not comparing the brutality of the Castro regime with that of Hitler towards the Jews. That was a crime against humanity. In Cuba it was only a crime against a few thousand people.
Absent from the Santiago, Chile meeting but present in the mind of those attending was Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez who, for health reasons, has been totally out of circulation now going on 50 days.
Before undergoing his fourth surgery for an unspecified abdominal cancer, Chávez gave specific instructions on what was to happen if he could not return to power. He was to have been sworn in as president Jan. 10 to a fourth term in office. On Dec. 11, Chávez said if he couldn’t make it, he wanted National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello to assume the presidency for 30 days, hold new elections and urged his supporters to vote for his designated heir, Nicolás Maduro, a former bus driver who now is Foreign Minister and Vice President.
That was not to be. Somewhere, somehow, somebody said that Chávez had indicated in Cuba that instead he wanted the inauguration to be delayed until he was fit to be president again. Venezuela’s Supreme Court agreed. The end of a presidential term and the start of a new one can be flexible.
Since he went to Cuba for his surgery and his post-operative treatment, he has not uttered a word. All information about his health is given in brief cryptic comments by one of his ministers. One said he had a serious post-operative pulmonary infection. Others said his status was delicate. One said he would return to Caracas in weeks. Others replied that they didn’t want to give a date to raise expectations as to when he might return.
In the meantime, Venezuela is ruled from Havana. Maduro and other members of the regime in Caracas make almost weekly trips to the island to see Chávez. And of course, they travel to meet and seek advice from Raúl and his older brother Fidel.
The CELAC, an organization with no infrastructure, wants to replace an already worthless Organization of American States that has a beautiful building in Washington D.C., a multi-million dollar budget and who meets regularly to decide nothing.
The CELAC, in only its second year of existence, has already surpassed the OAS in many ways. It has made it obvious that many countries in Latin America want little to do with the United States, except when it is time to get money or preferential trade agreements.
In the meantime they are happy to accept the free, or cheap. petrodollars that Chávez gives out to influence governments in the hemisphere. Oh, and at the same time get a little advice on how to remain in power for decades from the Castro brothers.
Click here for original article