To our wide repertoire of popular jokes, a new one that continues to be topical was added a few weeks ago. A couple of friends meet in the street and one asks the other, "Hey, did you know that Cuba has the biggest and best oil field in the world?" At first the listener starts to wonder if his friend is losing his mind, or whether they've just discovered a great source of crude and he hasn't heard about it. For a moment he thinks maybe it was on the morning news, which he didn't watch. He's wracking his brain for an answer when his crony busts out laughing and announces, "Yeah, buddy, we have the Chavez oil well #1 that never goes dry and doesn't need any resources to exploit it."
The Venezuelan subsidy is felt in every part of our national life and this sensation doesn't escape the jokes and ironies. This week, the theme returned to the fore after Hugo Chavez asked his country's National Assembly for permission to receive new medical treatment on our Island. Wednesday morning, supposedly. He arrived at the Havana airport although the national press failed to show any images of this moment. Days earlier it was already being passed by word of mouth that the resident of the Miraflores Palace had to come to receive urgent new medical treatment. The rumors flew about a possible worsening of the Venezuelan leader's health, but secrecy continues to mark his stay in Cuba. Not a single word filters out, not one doctor dares to bear witness, not one revelation escapes through the media. Nevertheless, there's a feeling of nervousness in the air.
Many fear that the "Chávez oil well #1″ might run dry and so trigger a deeper economic crisis in our country. Perhaps these common jokes are trying to deflect the worry through laughter. But behind the sarcasm hides the perennial anxiety of a "kept" country.