Venezuela, Mi Amor


Last Monday was a peculiar day, full of silences. When the retirees bought -- to resell -- their several copies of the newspaper Granma, they noticed that there was almost no reference to the Venezuelan elections. That same morning, at all the gas stations in the country, the administrators found a sealed envelope with the new gasoline prices. They could only open it after learning that Hugo Chavez's party had not reached two-thirds of the seats in the National Assembly. The operation to raise fuel prices was organized with total secrecy, and when the drivers came to fill their tanks, they discovered they would have to pay up to twenty percent more. People quickly drew the link between the entry of the opposition into Venezuela's most powerful branch of government, and this sudden increase. Within a few hours, some even started to stockpile tens of liters of diesel, unsure if the price might not go even higher in the coming days.

Although the seats gained by the two parties, the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela) and the MUD (Democratic Unity Coalition), received scant attention in the official press, in Havana's streets there was a sense of apprehension. Even elementary school children understand that without the unconditional support of this neighbor who sells us oil at subsidized prices, the national energy system could collapse at any moment. But we also know that if the Venezuelan president -- from his office in Miraflores Palace -- continues sending so much support, the Cuban government will not feel pressured to expand the paths to the economic and even political openings. Not only is the future of Venezuela decided in its ballot boxes, but also our future. Thus, the results were felt immediately all around us, even though the official media did not reflect the thrill -- a mix of fear and relief -- that ran through the Island, from one end to end.