HAVANA TIMES — Yesterday, when Chavez’s death was announced, I was in the heart of the city and was able to pick up some of the spirit felt by people over the departure of the president.
I don’t know what they felt in the interior of their souls, but people on the street didn’t seem too affected by this new piece of news. It was a day like any other, except that the news was on every TV.
In downtown Havana, it’s very common for the doors and windows of homes facing the street to remain open late into the night. There’s no need to take a survey. It’s enough to walk down the sidewalk to know the size of the TV screen of whatever family and what they’re viewing preferences are.
Last night, almost every household was tuned to a program on the Venezuelan president’s death. They were so synchronized that the clamor of his saddened supporters filled the soundscape of the city’s streets.
But it was a strange cry, alien in Havana, which seems weary of politics. Perhaps that’s why it didn’t last so long. As soon as the Brazilian telenovela came on – the authentic goddess of the Cuban family- dubbed Mexican voices flooded the tenements.
One of the people most moved by Chavez’s death was me.
When I heard the news, my body bristled – and it stayed that way for a while. That’s because I regret his death, and because I suspect that very difficult times will return for Cuba if Maduro is defeated in the next election.
Crises are also times of opportunity. The political earthquake could promote positive change for Cuba: more democracy, more popular empowerment and less dependence on oil.
But the fact is that a crisis is usually opportune when one has planned and prepared to face it, but I don’t think that’s the situation in our case.
The crisis could be exploited by the authoritarian state to further clamp down, and it could also open the nation’s doors to neoliberalism, which would be disastrous for the majority and the environment here.
But not only state affairs following the death of Chavez in Venezuela worry me. I have very good friends who are on aid missions or visiting there. I’m therefore worried about their fates.
Hopefully nothing will happen to them.