NYT – Chávez Puts His Trust in Castro for Care

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/17/world/americas/17venezuela.html?_r=1&ref=americas

“The Venezuelan leader’s illness and choice to fight it abroad have continued to compound his political problems at home, where the country is coping with high inflation, electricity shortages and a rise in violent crime.”

“Mr. Chávez appears to have given little thought to a possible successor, and key figures in his party and movement seem unsure of what to say or do without instructions from the president. On Saturday, he delegated various secondary functions to Vice President Elías Jaua and the minister of planning and finance, Jorge Giordani. Whether the splintered opposition can capitalize on his absence by next year’s elections remains to be seen.”

“Yet within the region, Cuba has the most to lose from a transition to a post-Chávez Venezuela, all the more reason why Cuba’s leadership has a strong incentive to do whatever it can to resolve Mr. Chávez’s medical situation, analysts said. Cuba’s economy is heavily dependent on Venezuela’s highly subsidized oil, which accounts for about two-thirds of Cuba’s oil needs. Without that subsidy, the Cuban economy “would not necessarily crash, but it would endure a devastating blow that it can hardly afford right now,” Mr. Shifter said.”

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