Since assuming the highest office in the nation in 2008, questions have surrounded Raul Castro's few trips abroad. This time the controversy ranged from cheering people to critics demanding the General be put on trial.
This January first, so dull and silent, is a sign that something isn't going well. Terminal exhaustion of a system? Fear before the possibility of losing the substantial Venezuelan subsidy? Or simply compassion for a dying man?
There are lots of reasons why China invests in authoritarian regimes. And if any of the world's toughest dictators passes away in 2013, we may be able to see how much China's financial investments pay off in political influence.
If we analyze this perennial rivalry, we have to conclude that the fate of Cubans has never depended on the United States more than it does now. Our everyday life has never been so subject to the decisions of the occupant of the Oval Office.
Fifty-four percent of Venezuelans have ratified Hugo Chavez as leader of their country, and Raul's regime has some breathing room. But the great polarization in Simon Bolivar's fatherland will make it more difficult to publicly sustain the maintenance of Cuba.
If the Venezuelan results will decide whether we are granted billions in subsidies, and our relationship with our powerful neighbor to the north is in play in those elections, the Cuban elections smell strongly of a play whose script is already written.
So far in 2012, Raul Castro has given very few signs of industriousness in office. If we count the hours he has appeared in public, the speeches he's made, and the trips he's taken... we have to conclude that his productivity is extremely low.
This is not the first time the current Cuban president has spoken of a possible dialog with his neighbor to the north. In reality, however, the official discourse continues to feed off confrontation with the White House.