Venezuela’s grim situation is impacting not only millions of households around the country — it is also sending panic waves across the Caribbean all the way to Cuba, a solid ally that for decades now has relied heavily on Chavismo’s generosity.
Cuba, a communist country with a weak economy, has alienated itself from the rest of the world and has largely relied on Venezuela to stay financially afloat. But Venezuela’s falling oil prices is causing Cuba to distance itself from the South American country.
Or get the gist of it here…
I grew up in Miami. When I was very young, I remember my parents taking the short cruise to Havana for a quick weekend stay. This, of course, was before Castro took power in 1959 and Havana was the Caribbean equivalent of what Cancun is nowadays for quick relaxing getaways.
Ever since then, visiting Cuba has always been on my bucket list. Many of my friends in high school were Cuban-born, and they would describe the beautiful beaches, amazing food, and friendly people. Finally, I may get my chance now that diplomatic relations have been restored and flights are going to Cuba on a daily basis.
But the softening of relations may have brought additional benefits other than travel. Cuba, who has relied on Venezuela for more than half of its oil since the collapse of the Soviet Union, is considering replenishing that Venezuelan oil void with good old American crude.
You see, a program had been in place under the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez in which Cuba would supply human resources to that country in exchange for oil. Cuba would send over doctors, teachers and social workers (about 200,000 of them), and Venezuela would reciprocate by shipping over about 100,000 barrels of oil per day.
But then Chavez died, and the country pretty much started going downhill faster than Shaun White on a snowboard.
Cuba needs oil, we’ve got plenty to spare, and now the table is set for Cuba to start buying. It makes more than political sense; it makes logistical sense as well. We’re closer than the Middle East, and nothing helps relationships more than black gold, Texas Tea (at least that’s what Jed Clampett said).
It’s a good idea for everyone concerned. We sell more oil, Cuba gets the oil and the tourists, and finally, after 57 years, I can cross one more thing off my bucket list.