Cuba Mourns Hugo Chavez

Raul Castro bids goodbye to Hugo Chavez at the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana in August 2011.  Photo: Estudios Revolución

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban government declared two days of mourning for the death on Tuesday of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, considered “as a true son” to Fidel Castro and “beloved” friend of President Raul Castro, reported dpa news.

“Chavez is also Cuban,” said a note from the Havana government read on state television, hours after Chavez died in Caracas at age 58 due to cancer, which he had fought since mid-2011.

“We express our sincere condolences to Chavez’s parents, brothers, daughters and sons and all his family members who are ours, as Chavez is also the son of Cuba and Latin America,” the statement added.

The Venezuelan leader spent much of his last two years of life in Cuba, where he underwent four operations for cancer and the subsequent recovery periods, plus returning for post operation treatments.

Chavez returned to Caracas on February 18, after spending ten weeks in Havana including his final operation on December 11.

The government of Raul Castro recalled that Cuba received crucial support from Venezuela when the island was still reeling from the “Special Period” of the ‘90s, after the demise of the Soviet Union.

Caracas became a strategic ally of Castro’s Cuba since Chávez came to power in 1998. The Venezuelan government sells about 100,000 barrels of oil a day to the island on preferential terms in exchange for medical and educational services.

“He felt our difficulties and problems and did his best, with extraordinary generosity,” the statement said.

The streets of Havana were soon buzzing with the story. “This is bad news for Cuba and Cubans,” Luis Manuel Bermudez, a 22 year old student of Philosophy and History told dpa. “He has been very important for Cuba,” he added.

“It’s no secret that the cooperation has been very important for Cuba,” said Rafael Leyva, 24.

“I feel a lot of pain,” said a 55-year Havana woman crying in front of the Venezuelan embassy in Cuba shortly after the announcement..

The Cuban government ordered that the flag be flown at half-mast Wednesday in government buildings and military installations for the official mourning.



7 thoughts on “Cuba Mourns Hugo Chavez

  • While the actual financial impact of Chavez death on Cuba, even in its worst version, will likely take years to manifest, the psychological jolt will be felt immediately. Cubans realize that their economy is not self-sufficient. The death of Chavez exposes their vulnerability and the weakness of Castro socialism. Cubans realize that no matter how hard working they could become, no matter how much more productive the new cooperatives are, what really affects their lives is the hand-outs they will receive from Venezuela. The Castros best hope to hold on to their dictatorship passed away yesterday.

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