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Waiting for the worst in Cuba

Photo by AFP / Getty Images

In Venezuela, the end is near:

“President Hugo Chávez delegated to Vice President Nicolás Maduro increased administrative duties on a bunch of financial areas, further sparking rumors about the real health condition of the Venezuelan leader.

In a decree issued Wednesday from his hospital bed in Havana, Chávez granted Maduro the power to perform all government functions related to budget management, credit emissions and public appropriations.

The decree also empowers the vice president to appoint deputy ministers, presidents and board members of public entities, as well as to decree expropriations, liquidate agencies, grant pensions and approve tax exempt for some activities.

The announcement came just 48 hours after Maduro reported success in Chávez’s recovery, saying that he was already walking and exercising.”

The surgery Chávez underwent a couple of weeks ago marks his fourth since 2011. Dr. Michael Pishvaian, an oncologist at Georgetown University, believes Chávez has probably received a terminal diagnosis, saying that “the overall prognosis is still pretty poor.”

Bolivian President Evo Morales, Chávez’s closest ally in South America, made an impromptu visit to Chávez’s bedside in Havana last weekend. Morales has yet to make any public statements concerning the health of the ailing head of the Bolivarian Revolution, further raising suspicions that his condition is graver than his administration lets on.

Meanwhile, Chávez appears unwilling to reveal his prognosis for fear that Venezuelan officials will find him incapable of fulfilling the duties of the presidency and begin preparing for the constitutionally-mandated elections to chose his successor.

The recent news has prompted Fox News Latino to ask the question haunting the Castro regime in Cuba: “Can Cuba survive without Chávez?”

Anyone with a sense of decency and respect for human life can’t possibly want to see Cuba return to something even approaching the “Special Period” of the 1990s, when the collapse of the Soviet Union caused a Cuban economy heavily dependent on Soviet subsidies and trade to plunge into a steep depression. Yet I doubt Washington would lift a finger to help feed the people of Cuba should the island hit another slump once the Castroist Chávez kicks the bucket and the free oil his administration gifts to Cuba stops flowing.

America’s foreign policy is absolutely Biblical: anyone who repents and washes Uncle Sam’s feet shall be forgiven, but all others shall be plagued with “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

I never quite understood how America’s refusal to help feed, clothe and house the people of Cuba should effectively instigate a regime change in Havana that would put in power a pro-America leadership. I should think that, once they’re done inflicting retribution on the men who oppressed them for so long, the next revolutionaries would go after the country that watched them starve and shiver in the rain from a mere 90 miles away.

If America truly wants to see positive regime change in places like Cuba and Venezuela, instead of simply watching those countries die a slow and agonizing death, we should extend our hand in friendship to the people while simultaneously placing diplomatic pressure on their governments. Liberty and democracy are contagious and spread by example, not by force.

No one who wants what’s best for Cuba should be salivating over the prospect of a second Special Period following the death of Chávez, and waiting to do right by the people of Cuba is nearly equivalent to aiding in their torment.

About Hector Luis Alamo, Jr.

Hector Luis Alamo, Jr., is the associate editor at Being Latino and a native son of Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. He received a B.A. in history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where his concentration was on ethnic relations in the United States. While at UIC, he worked first as a staff writer for the Chicago Flame and later became the newspaper's Opinions editor. He contributes to various Chicago-area publications, most notably, the RedEye and Gozamos. He's also a cultural critic for 'LLERO magazine. He has maintained a personal blog since 2007,, where he discusses topics ranging from political history and philosophy to culture and music.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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