The Death of Hugo Chávez: a Turn of the Screw for Venezuela and Latin America

On charismatic Venezuelan President death and suspicions about the region’s future.

12 de Marzo de 2013

Originally published in Spanish on March 5, 2013.

The final page in Hugo Chávez Frías’s life has just been written. He was the shining star of the promoted 'Bolivarian Revolution' which fate –it must be said– has always been outlined from Havana, by brilliant Raúl Castro’s pen.

In all probability, no one will ever learn actual details dealing with the physical disappearance of now former Venezuelan head of state, that is, if he died weeks Twitter, Matías E. Ruizago in Cuba and if the Castro brothers decided to send him back immediately to Caracas to prevent the Island medicine reputation from shattering and falling into the worst of misfortunes.

Yet, we must marginally mention that information coming out in dribs and drabs of Chávez health was not efficiently managed by Raúl and Fidel Castro Ruz. Not because Cubans brains were not up to the task, rather the contrary. But it happens that the news self-confinement to which the Island has been subjected to since 1959 now encounters, largely, social networks violent penetration everywhere, to the extent that full secrecy is now factually impossible. The excessive concentration of Venezuelan reality in a single person has also taken part in this Gordian knot, which perception management science alludes to: late Bolivarian President’s charisma is a hard feature to find, even remotely, in other Caracas regime officials. Nicolás Maduro, an unskilled speaker lacking communication, political and planning abilities, is, at best, a poor ambassador to the subsystem. Meanwhile, Diosdado CabelloNational Assembly head– is a totally unknown character to the general public, and it will be impossible to get an ordinary Venezuelan to carry out a psychological transference and consider him with the same affection once showed towards their late leader. In the end, Raúl Castro will be pushed to force the mounted conceptual engineering around the cult of personality surrounding Chávez aura. It is a cultural war –aren´t they all so?– that, when the game is over, in the eyes of history, he will not win. Mainly because of his Venezuelan partners’ own faults.

Thus, the recent official visit by Russian Federation Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, to Havana can only be understood within the context of Cuban despair in order to replace Venezuela’s aid with new contributions coming from Moscow. Knowing that Venezuelan President was fading away, Raúl Castro decided to cool the gloomy internal situation down and be ready for the crisis that inevitably will involve Caracas government in the near future. Maybe instinctively (though it may be doubted), Castro’s regime has embraced the Russians, reviving the extinguished Cold War fire. As it happened shortly after the revolution that ejected Fulgencio Batista started.

In the Venezuelan capital, perhaps Vice President Nicolás Maduro spiced his chain of careless actions with the unwise conclusion that the U.S. is responsible for the cancer which took his boss life. Not in vain, SEBIN (the Bolivarian intelligence service) has been recently devoting a great deal of time to prepare statements reporting on alleged weapon movements in foreign nations diplomatic buildings, pointing at the CIA. And several clues certainly lie on this aspect: the remnant nomenclature should not only deal with their economy destruction and the eminent PDVSA bankruptcy –both quickly perpetrated by Chávez Frías himself– but also, from now on, they should take care of preventing a merciless civil war from erupting in and out the ruling subsystem. This means that locals will have other reasons to fight for, though they have been doing so to get a chicken from different supermarkets. Maduro, to sum up, has emphasized his countrymen torment, with his not very provable accusations, and it can be seen that he did Cabello a huge favor –his current bitter opponent in this contest for power. The National Assembly president now has another valuable trump card to get rid of the VP. Tip: Maduro is unable to come to power, as the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic prevents it, specifically.

By this time, not only Castro dictatorship selfishly cries over its Venezuelan agent’s death, but also does the degraded FARC leadership, since sanctuaries that Chávez provided its members to escape from the fierce siege imposed by Colombian armed forces are now at risk. The same will happen with big drug traffickers exploiting Venezuela's airspace to transport their goods by air to Central America, and from there to the lucrative U.S. market. Likewise, Bolivian President Evo Morales will be forced to multiply the amount of metric tons of high purity cocaine shipments exported from his territory –managed by his representative Felipe Quispe– given that financial contributions referred from Miraflores could disappear in the blink of an eye. As a result, West anti-drug agencies will have many more elements if they are aiming at stigmatizing him as a downtrodden reincarnation of Manuel Noriega.

Further regional considerations: extreme left movements and fake 'social activists', so far funded by Chavism, will start noticing how their dividends go down. From now on there is a wide margin for them to regroup their forces within the Iranian Revolution framework, which will increase cultural infiltration actions by Tehran in the region. Side effects: Hezbollah's financial network in the Triple Border Area (TBA) –shared by Brazil, Argentina and Paraguaywill show an exponential growth in its activities.

Finally –and once the mourning ends– a myriad of suburban conversations will reverberate around the best ranked identities trying to impersonate Hugo Chávez Frías’s figure. Some voices dare to point out that the choice is almost obvious, coinciding in Ecuadorian Rafael Correa. Recently re-elected, his momentum is optimal rather than that of Argentine President Cristina Elisabet Fernández Wilhelm, who is a bit under the weather. Rich in oil and mineral resources, and thanks to an advertised renovation of his stay in power, the inhabitant of Palacio de Carondelet in Quito becomes the supreme biotype for succession, if the Venezuelan upheaval dynamics does not end up turning to ashes any hope for the ideological extension of the 'Bolivarian Latin America'.

* Translated into English by Debora Gravano Jordán | e-Mail: debora.gravano @


Matías E. Ruiz, Editor