Venezuela: The Hope of Maybe…

The plane had touched down in Panama and through the windows I saw the harsh sun shining on the pavement. I walked the halls of the airport looking for a bathroom and a place to wait until my next flight. Some young people waiting in the main hall beckoned me and begin shouting my name. They were Venezuelans. They were there, like me, in transit to another destination. So we started to talk in the midst of the crowds, the suitcases, the comings and goings, while the loudspeakers announced arrivals and departures. They told me they read my blog and understood very well what we are living through on the Island. At one point I asked to take a photo with them. They responded with long faces and begged me, “Please, don’t put it up on Facebook or Twitter, because it’ll make problems for us in our country.” I was shocked. Suddenly the Venezuelans reminded me tremendously of Cubans: fearful, speaking in whispers, hiding anything that could compromise them in front of Power.

That encounter made me reflect on the issue of ideological control, surveillance and the excessive interference of the state in every detail of daily life. However, despite the similarities I found between those young people and my compatriots, I felt that there were still spaces open to them that have been long closed to us. Among those open spaces, are elections. The fact that today, Sunday, Venezuelans can go to the polls and decide with their votes — along with all the official tricks — the immediate future of their nation, is something that was taken from Cubans a long time ago. The Communist Party in our county cleverly cut all the paths that would allow us to choose among several political options. Knowing that he could not compete in a fair fight, Fidel Castro preferred to run on the track alone and chose as his only relief in the relay someone who, what’s more, carries his own name. Comparing our situations, Venezuelans are left with the hope of maybe… Cubans, the frustrations of never.

So, knowing the cage from the inside, I venture to recommend to Venezuelans that they themselves not end up being the ones who close the only exit door they can count on. I hope that those young people I met in the Panama airport are right now exercising their right to vote. I wish for them, that after this day they will never again fear reprisals for a photo taken with someone, for speaking out about an idea, for signing their names to a criticism. I wish for them, in short, that they will achieve what we failed to do.

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42 thoughts on “Venezuela: The Hope of Maybe…

  1. Protesters shot by Maduro soldiers:

    zoevaldes.net/2013/04/18/fotos-de-represion-sangrienta-en-venezuela/

  2. WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL: Nicolas Maduro shoves aside democracy in Venezuela
    In fact, if anyone is preparing a coup, it is Mr. Maduro and his Cuban advisers. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski has put forward a peaceful and reasonable demand: that an audit be undertaken of the suspect presidential vote count. Mr. Maduro himself said Sunday that he would agree to a recount — but on Monday the electoral commission he controls abruptly ratified a result that gave him a margin of 260,000 votes out of 14.8 million cast. The narrow outcome clearly shocked the Chavistas, who had already installed Mr. Maduro in the presidency by unconstitutional means; they expected that their domination of the media and orchestration of voting by state employees would produce an easy “victory” and legitimize the regime’s continuation.

    THE ATTEMPT by the followers of Hugo Chavez to install a successor to the dead caudillothrough a one-sided election is faltering. Now the Venezuelan regime appears to be preparing to maintain itself in power through brute force — and the oil-producing country is headed for a crisis that demands the attention of the United States and Latin America’s democracies.
    On Tuesday, Nicolas Maduro, the former bus driver and Cuban protege who was designated as Mr. Chavez’s successor, went on national television to announce that he would “not permit” a march Wednesday called by the opposition to support its call for a recount of votes in Sunday’s election. Promising to use “a strong hand” — a hoary phrase from Latin America’s history of dictatorship — Mr. Maduro spoke of protesters “filling [Caracas] with death and blood,” words that rang like a threat. The government said that seven people already had been killed in post-election clashes and claimed that a coup was being prepared.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/nicolas-maduro-shoves-aside-democracy-in-venezuela/2013/04/16/4edf4bd2-a6c4-11e2-8302-3c7e0ea97057_story.html

  3. WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL: Nicolas Maduro shoves aside democracy in Venezuela
    In fact, if anyone is preparing a coup, it is Mr. Maduro and his Cuban advisers. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski has put forward a peaceful and reasonable demand: that an audit be undertaken of the suspect presidential vote count. Mr. Maduro himself said Sunday that he would agree to a recount — but on Monday the electoral commission he controls abruptly ratified a result that gave him a margin of 260,000 votes out of 14.8 million cast. The narrow outcome clearly shocked the Chavistas, who had already installed Mr. Maduro in the presidency by unconstitutional means; they expected that their domination of the media and orchestration of voting by state employees would produce an easy “victory” and legitimize the regime’s continuation.

    THE ATTEMPT by the followers of Hugo Chavez to install a successor to the dead caudillothrough a one-sided election is faltering. Now the Venezuelan regime appears to be preparing to maintain itself in power through brute force — and the oil-producing country is headed for a crisis that demands the attention of the United States and Latin America’s democracies.
    On Tuesday, Nicolas Maduro, the former bus driver and Cuban protege who was designated as Mr. Chavez’s successor, went on national television to announce that he would “not permit” a march Wednesday called by the opposition to support its call for a recount of votes in Sunday’s election. Promising to use “a strong hand” — a hoary phrase from Latin America’s history of dictatorship — Mr. Maduro spoke of protesters “filling [Caracas] with death and blood,” words that rang like a threat. The government said that seven people already had been killed in post-election clashes and claimed that a coup was being prepared.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/nicolas-maduro-shoves-aside-democracy-in-venezuela/2013/04/16/4edf4bd2-a6c4-11e2-8302-3c7e0ea97057_story.html

  4. Thanks Humberto:

    We now know that at least one of the dead, who Maduro claimed was killed by Capriles supporters, was actually killed by Maduro’s gang while peacefully protesting against Maduro. Chavez used snipers too, seems to work well.

    And if the reports and pictures are right, election observers were forced out of polling stations and the army has burned ballots so they can’t be recounted.

    I hope there is no more violence, Maduro intends to stay in power whatever it takes. Capriles should prepare for future elections and work to make them open and fair.

  5. THE CASTROFASCIST DONT GET IT! EXTORTION WONT WORK! ALAN GROSS IS NOT A SPY! AND HIS KANGAROO TRIAL WAS MEANT TO MAKE HIM A BARGAINING CHIP FOR THE CUBAN 5 SPIES!

    NEW STRAITS TIMES: US working to free Americans held in Cuba, Iran

    WASHINGTON : Washington is seeking to free two US citizens held in Cuba and Iran, but has rejected a deal with Havana to swap a jailed American for five Cuban spies, top diplomat John Kerry said Wednesday. Kerry told US lawmakers that officials were working hard to win the release of contractor Alan Gross held for more than three years in Havana. Senator Patrick Leahy visited the island recently, met with Gross “and talked to the government,” Kerry told the House foreign affairs committee. “They were and have been attempting to trade Alan Gross for the five spies that are in prison here in the United States, and we’ve refused to do that because there’s no equivalency,” the secretary of state said. “Alan Gross is wrongly imprisoned, and we’re not going to trade as if it’s a spy for a spy, which they’re trying to allege.”

    Gross, 63, was arrested on December 3, 2009 for illegally distributing laptops and communications gear to members of Cuba’s small Jewish community. At the time, he was working for a firm contracted to the US State Department.

    In March 2011 he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for “acts against the independence or territorial integrity” of Cuba, and relatives fear his health is failing.

    Kerry said he hoped that the United States could appeal to Cuba’s communist leaders to treat Gross’s case as a “humanitarian” issue.

    Kerry also said he had been working through back channels to try to find out more about retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared some six years ago while on a trip to Iran.

    “On Levinson, I have actually engaged in some back-channel diplomacy in an effort to try to see if we can get something done there,” Kerry said.

    “That has been raised at very high levels, and it is not a forgotten issue by any means. We’re on it.”–AFP

    http://www.nst.com.my/latest/us-working-to-free-americans-held-in-cuba-iran-1.258331

  6. NOT ALLOWING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IS A SURE SIGN OF FASCISM!

    NY TIMES: Post-Election Tensions Escalate in Venezuela as Demonstrations Turn Deadly – By WILLIAM NEUMAN

    Mr. Maduro was declared the winner of Sunday’s election with 50.8 percent of the vote, to 49 percent for Mr. Capriles, according to the current government count. The tally has Mr. Maduro ahead by about 270,000 votes, out of 14.8 million cast, although not all votes have been counted. Among those outstanding are votes from Venezuelans living in foreign countries, who tend to vote for the opposition.

    Each time he angrily criticized Mr. Capriles, sometimes working himself into what seemed to be near hysteria, shouting until he was nearly out of breath, often stabbing his finger directly at the camera. He compared the opposition to Nazi Germany, accused them of planning a coup, and said they hoped to bring about a civil war like those in Libya and Syria.

    “The march to the center of Caracas will not be permitted,” Mr. Maduro said in his first broadcast, from a government-run health clinic. “I will use a hard hand against fascism and intolerance. I declare it. If they want to overthrow me, come and get me. Here I am, with the people and the armed forces.”

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/world/americas/post-election-tensions-rise-in-venezuela-amid-deadly-protests.html?_r=1&;

  7. YOUTUBE: CHANNEL 4 NEWS: Venezuela protesters clash with police – Published on Apr 16, 2013 – Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in Venezuela’s capital on Monday as the government rejected opposition demands for a vote recount after Sunday’s contested election to replace the late Hugo Chavez.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12EWcQNcBvs

  8. Help,

    I understand that it is widely spread around by media outlets in USA that Chavez dominated the Venezuelan media.
    However this doesn’ t seem to be the case.
    ……….
    From Wikipedia………..After the 1998 election of Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan press “failed miserably in their duty to provide information that their fellow citizens needed to navigate the storms of Venezuelan politics under Chavez. Instead, media owners and their editors used the news – print and broadcast – to spearhead an opposition movement against Chavez.”[4’
    ……….

    The factual reality is that most Venezuelan media is anti-chavista including Venezuelan media outlets funded by USA.

    I’m not an expert on Venezuela and who knows, perhaps Wikipedia is not either but for what it’s worth here is a link to wiki-venezuelan media.
    The post 1998 paragraph and the info on who owns Tele-sur is relevant.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_of_Venezuela

  9. C’mon Nick, you know that Chavez dominates the media.

    We saw Telesur in Cuba and it’s sickening. Imagine if the BBC did nothing but promote the Conservative Leader as the Son of God and attack all his oponenents as CIA backed mercenaries plotting a coup d’etat and never let them respond.

    Telesur also justifies violence against Chavez opponents and even manufactures conspiracy theories where all the violence was done by the opponents to themselves.

    I’m not saying Chavez opponents would be better, because I know nothing about them. But it seems obvious there is less democracy in Venezuela under Chavez and more violence.

    Yes, it is shameful that doctors or anyone else are being attacked. There are obviously sick people on both sides of the divide there.

    And no, under Obama, there is no chance of the USA trying to destabilize Venezuela. Most governments in Latin America are very anti-USA, so what? We do business with them and sometimes criticize them, like they criticize us.

  10. @Nick

    You are right pointing to the US planning de-stabilisation in Venezuela.
    One must be illiterate not to see this.

    I wonder if Cuban leadership can see the danger? The marines are more likeky to land in Caracas then in Havana.

    It is fine to work closely within the Bolivarian Alliance, but a strategic re-assurance can only come from China or from Russia.

  11. re #24

    You state that you don’t know anything about Chavez/his opponents.
    But then you state that Chavez closed down opposition media.
    Do you have any examples of this?

    I am aware of a case where a TV channel that openly backed the 2002 coup lost its broadcasting licence. Maybe this is what you are referring to.

    If a U S TV channel openly backed a coup d’état against an elected U S president would they be allowed to continue broadcasting?

    What makes Chavez/Maduro victories all the more remarkable is that they have the majority of the Venezuelan media (right-wing owned) constantly stacked against them.

    This fact is widely recognised throughout the world amongst people with some knowledge of Venezuela.
    Perhaps this fact is not reported much in US media.

  12. re #24

    Thanks for the Al Capone was a leftist line. I do enjoy a bit of a laugh when I log on.

    Based on previous history of U S imperialist adventures south of the Rio Grande, it is entirely possible that there was a pre-determined programme of de-stabilisation in Venezuela regardless of election result.
    The fact that the margin was only 2%-ish gives an added impetus to this de-stabilisation programme.

    It would not come as a surprise if the USA tried to topple Maduro by either overt or covert means.
    Although would this be less likely under Obama than under a Reagan/Bush dynasty type of regime?

    There are thousands of Cuban Doctors currently in Venezuela providing health care in areas where previously there was none or very little.

    There are now reports of Doctors being abused and medical centres attacked by the supporters of Capriles/the de-stabilisation programme.

    Attacks on Doctors and medical centres?
    Shameful.

  13. To those who understand Spanish I recommend you listen to her María Cprina Machado at the realcuba.com

    María Corina Machado asks Raul Castro to give Maduro permission to accept a recount

    María Corina Machado, a member of the Venezuelan National Assembly, asks Cuban dictator Raúl Castro to allow his puppet Nicolás Maduro, to accept a recount of the votes and bring peace to Venezuela

  14. Nick, #11

    First of all, it is not “[a]n investigation carried out by who?” It is “[a]n investigation carried out by whom?” I thought you were from England.

    Second, to answer your questions directly:

    (1) Rosa Maria Payá has traveled around the world visiting various organizations requesting an independent investigation into the deaths of her father, Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero. Take your pick, Nick. Which one of those organizations would you like to conduct the investigation? Do I have to list them here for you?

    (2) The phrase “independent investigation” means an investigation that is not hampered, obstructed, impeded, influenced or directed by the government of Cuba or any agencies of the Cuban government, including the state police or any other security agency in Cuba. The phrase means that witnesses are accessible to any person who wishes to interview them and said witnesses are free to testify without fear of reprisal, retribution or public acts of repudiation against themselves, their families or their relatives. So far, no such information is available in this matter because the government of Cuba has not opened its files. No police officers have been interviewed, the coroner’s report is not available and no witnesses have been interviewed by anyone who is not associated with the Cuban government.

    Are you interested in the truth, Nick?

  15. All I know is that if some “right-wing” candidate won the way Chavez and Maduro have won, every loony leftist in the world would be screaming rigged elections and demanding a complete recount and investigation by independent investigators.

  16. Nick,

    The US government could never get away with the stuff Chavez got away with. We know he closed down opposition media, and there are many reports of Chavistas forcing people to vote, going into polling booths with them and preventing others from voting.

    If Chavez did some good, that’s great. I don’t know anything about him or his opponents.

    I just want to know if the election was fair, I believe in honesty and fair elections.

    Since only invited guests of the government were allowed to observe, I assume they were rigged, maybe not so much as when Chavez was in power, but the new guy doesn’t inspire so much fear.

    We had a similar leftist in the USA, his name was Al Capone, he created lots of jobs and made sure his boys always held fair elections, which they always happened to win.

    But the right-wing US media conspired to hold a massive co-ordinated propaganda exercise to overthrow poor ol’ Al Capone.

    It wasn’t because Al Capone was a criminal, but because the media is “right-wing”

  17. Nick, the people who live in Venezuela are talking about shortages in the stores. Sure They have more than the Cubans, but imagine in 50 years what Venezuela under “SOCIALIST” leadership will look like. I hope the censorship that exists in Cuba does not spread to the rest of the world. Cubans today are protesting because they lack many things including decent education, potable water, food,milk, transportation. Cuba today depends on the USA for food, Brasil to build their ports at Mariel, England to build golf courses, Spain to manage their Hotels, Belgium for BEER and now Asia to grow rice. CUBA and the REVOLUTION have been a COMPLETE FAILURE thanks to the ass backward regime the CASTRO brothers have created with the help of TONTO UTILS through out the free word.

  18. re #20

    USA and its right wing media groups seem to have a mental block when it comes to Venezuela.
    It all just comes across as a massive co-ordinated propaganda excercise.

    In fact almost the entire western media, which is prodominantly right-wing owned, seems to reckon that if they twist the facts regarding Chavez’s record often enough then their media consumers will believe them.

    Here is more of a facts-based article that is just a touch more balanced from The Guardian (UK):

    “There were major improvements in Venezuelans’ living standards during the Chávez years. After the government got control over the national oil industry, poverty was reduced by half and extreme poverty by about 70%. Real income per person grew by about 2.5% annually from 2004 to 2012, and inequality fell sharply. Unemployment was 8% in 2012, as opposed to 14.5% when Chávez took office.
    These numbers are not in dispute among economists or other experts, nor among international agencies such as the World Bank, IMF or UN. But they are rarely reported in the major western media.”

    Full article:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/15/nicolas-maduro-venezuela-vote-for-chavismo

  19. @Humberto #18

    Y has about 7000 followers in the Twitter English version.

    As far as I know Cuban English-language newpapers have no Twitter accounts specifically in English so I cannot compare who is more popular.

  20. TIME MAGAZINE: Venezuela’s Election: Even if Nicolás Maduro Won, He Lost – by Tim Padgett

    Here is the one unmistakable reality of Sunday’s special presidential election in Venezuela: even if Nicolás Maduro won, he lost. This race had a rarefied gauge, and it wasn’t simply the vote tally. It was whether the authoritarian-socialist model left by the firebrand Hugo Chávez, who died in office because of cancer last month after a 14-year reign, can survive without his demigod presence. That is, his actual presence and not his reincarnation as a bird, as Maduro goofily claims the late Chávez appeared to him recently. By defeating his centrist rival Henrique Capriles by an embarrassingly tight margin of 50.7% to 49.1% — after Chávez routed Capriles just six months ago by 11 points — Maduro, whom Chávez had handpicked as his successor, laid bare two things about Chavismo without Chávez. The first is that el comandante, who always ran a one-caudillo show, failed to groom anyone who could fill his red beret politically. The second is that Venezuelans, with Chávez’s blustering figure gone, now recognize the raft of economic and social messes he left behind.

    And that makes the political landscape ahead in Venezuela, which holds the world’s largest oil reserves, volatile if not potentially violent. Maduro, who to his credit said he’d accept the full vote recount Capriles is demanding, called his win “a fair, legal and constitutional triumph,” and it probably was, despite opposition concerns about the Chavista-packed National Election Council, known as CNE. But Capriles argued he’d scored an equally important victory by exposing how vulnerable Chávez’s United Socialist Party (PSUV) is in the absence of the late President’s charismatic bond with its base. “This system,” Capriles declared, “is a sand castle.”

    Yet however flimsy it may be — and the Venezuelan opposition, despite Sunday’s impressive performance, is no reassuring rock, either — Maduro and the Chavista leadership, including military honchos who have strongly hinted they won’t accept an opposition President, have insisted since Chávez’s cancer was diagnosed two years ago that only their leftist, anti-U.S. Bolivarian revolution is divinely anointed to rule. Now, with their humiliated backs against a wall, and bereft of the political tools their exalted leader possessed, the question is how heavy a hand they’ll resort to in order to preserve Chavismo’s dominance — and the petrowealth it presides over.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://world.time.com/2013/04/15/venezuelas-election-even-if-nicolas-maduro-won-he-lost/

  21. LOOKS LIKE LA FLACA IS HOLDING STEADY WITH AN AVERAGE DAILY FOLLOWERS OF ALMOST 1000!! JE JE JE!
    YOANI SANCHEZ TWITTER STATISTICS
    FOLLOWERS: 477,408
    Daily average: + 913 followers, + 19 tweets
    twittercounter.com/yoanisanchez

  22. LOOKS LIKE LA FLACA IS HOLDING STEADY WITH AN AVERAGE DAILY FOLLOWERS OF ALMOST 1000!! JE JE JE!
    YOANI SANCHEZ TWITTER STATISTICS
    FOLLOWERS: 477,408
    Daily average: + 913 followers, + 19 tweets
    twittercounter.com/yoanisanchez

  23. YOUTUBE: MOTHERBOARD – Yoani Sánchez, Cuba’s Dissident Blogger – Since starting her blog, “Generación Y,” in 2007, Sánchez has become the Castro regime’s most internationally visible opponent. Her site gets millions of hits per month, and hundreds of thousands of people follow her on Twitter, and she uses those platforms to shed light on life within the western hemisphere’s last true dictatorship.

  24. @Help #13

    You certainly exagerate about the “trillion” but to me even one child killed by the NATO forces in Afghanistan values more then all Cuban dissidents alltogether.

    That’s because the child does not seek trouble with premeditation.

    The Cuban “dissidents” know the game, know the risks. They fight for their piece of cake should the US intervene one day.

  25. Hank,

    Sooner or later someone will talk.

    Then the excuse will be it was just “a local police” mess-up, they were just trying to cause a small accident and scare the dissidents, didn’t mean for them to die, and Castro would never have ordered it.

    The other excuse will be the “bad ole USA” kills a trillion people every year, so nobody should complain about two dead Cuban dissidents.

  26. Nick,

    An investigation carried out by anybody who wants to do it.

    Any foreign communist or conspiracy theorist is free to investigate any police case in the USA, interview police officers, interview witnesses and judges.

    Anybody should be free to track down all those Paya witnesses and talk to them in private or in front of a camera. If the witnesses are telling the truth, what’s the problem?

    According to Paya, no witnesses for the defense were allowed to testify. Not even Paya’s family was allowed to attend. No recordings were allowed to be taken.

    We can see the car was tampered with and moved, we can see the computer recreation of the car leaving the road doesn’t match the skid marks, the entire video is shoddy and amateurish.

    At the very least, the Cuban police are incompetent and can’t show evidence of what they say occurs.

    I know a retired detective who would be glad to go down and examine the forensic evidence and interview all the police officers and witnesses. He’s very honest.

    Should we ask Castro for permission? :)

  27. re Hank #3

    If you follow the thread as you say you have done then you will have seen that I mentioned that in an ideal world Cuba would not have had the same guy in power for 49 years.

    This was disagreed with by another contributor. So I then expanded on my viewpoint.

    I also stated that we do not live in an ideal world but that perhaps things are improving.

    I have been called a fascist and a liar for expressing a different but pretty moderate opinion here, so perhaps your implication that I am a mere ‘loco’ is indeed a tiny example of some kind of improvement.

    I have gone into some detail regarding why, on balance, I do not think Snrs Paya and Cepero were killed, but sadly died in an accident. I also stated that I am 100% open to changing my opinion if anything else comes to light.

    I would ask you Hank, what exactly do you mean by an independent investigation?
    An investigation carried out by who?

    If you could respond whilst refraining from cheap and somewhat lame insults then that would be fine, although that would be up to you…

    A cada uno la opcion de ser mal educado….

  28. After 54 years without human rights under the Castroit tyrannical monarchy, the Cuban people is craving for freedom and change of the bankrupt system.

    Cuban ‘fist’ shut tight against political reform
    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130412/cuban-fist-shut-tight-against-political-reform

    Agence France-PresseApril 12, 2013 14:31

    Cuban President Raul Castro has enacted timid economic reforms to preserve power, but politically his regime is as suffocating as ever, a popular dissident blogger said Friday.
    Yoani Sanchez, who is traveling around Latin America after the lifting of a much-loathed exit permit requirement, said some things have indeed changed since Castro replaced his ill brother Fidel in 2006.

  29. Just in: Madurro beat Capriles by less than 2%.

    For a computerized voting system that leftists brag is the best in the world, it sure took their computers a long time to count those votes? What do their computers smoke?

    And why did Chavez ban independent observers from Venezuelan elections? Maybe because he was shy?

    Just asking.

    Rigged or not, I hope calm heads prevail and protests don’t lead to violence, that won’t help anybody.

    The difference between poll and election results tell us that many Venezuelans are afraid to openly express their opinions, like Yoani says.

  30. SPEAKING OF OIL AND VENEZUELA! I THINK THE CASTRO FAMILY OLIGARCHY BETTER START PACKING THEIR BAGS! BUT NO WORRIES, THEY HAVE PLENTY OF LOOTED MONEY IN SWISS BANKS!

    SUN SENTINEL NEWS: Companies abandon search for oil in Cuba’s deep waters – Threat to Florida’s environment reduced as drillers look elsewhere – by William E. Gibson, Washington Bureau

    WASHINGTON — After spending nearly $700 million during a decade, energy companies from around the world have all but abandoned their search for oil in deep waters off the north coast of Cuba near Florida, a blow to the Castro regime but a relief to environmentalists worried about a major oil spill.

    Decisions by Spain-based Repsol and other companies to drill elsewhere greatly reduce the chances that a giant slick along the Cuban coast would ride ocean currents to South Florida, threatening its beaches, inlets, mangroves, reefs and multibillion-dollar tourism industry.

    The Coast Guard remains prepared to contain, skim, burn or disperse a potential slick. And Cuban officials still yearn for a lucrative strike that would prop up its economy. A Russian company, Zarubezhneft, is drilling an exploratory well in shallower waters hugging the Cuban shoreline south of the Bahamas.

    But though some oil has been found offshore, exploratory drilling in deep waters near currents that rush toward Florida has failed to reveal big deposits that would be commercially viable to extract, discouraging companies from pouring more money into the search.

    “Those companies are saying, ‘We cannot spend any more capital on this high-risk exploration. We’d rather go to Brazil; we’d rather go to Angola; we’d rather go to other places in the world where the technological and geological challenges are less,’” said Jorge Piñon, an oil-industry analyst at the University of Texas who consults with U.S. and Cuban officials as well as energy companies.

    “I don’t foresee any time in the future exploration in Cuba’s deep-water north coast. It is, for all practical purposes, over.”

    Despite these frustrations, Cuba’s need for oil wealth and energy independence has only intensified.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/fl-cuban-oil-drilling-retreat-20130414,0,5594782.story

  31. SPEAKING OF OIL AND VENEZUELA! I THINK THE CASTRO FAMILY OLIGARCHY BETTER START PACKING THEIR BAGS! BUT NO WORRIES, THEY HAVE PLENTY OF LOOTED MONEY IN SWISS BANKS!

    SUN SENTINEL NEWS: Companies abandon search for oil in Cuba’s deep waters – Threat to Florida’s environment reduced as drillers look elsewhere – by William E. Gibson, Washington Bureau

    WASHINGTON — After spending nearly $700 million during a decade, energy companies from around the world have all but abandoned their search for oil in deep waters off the north coast of Cuba near Florida, a blow to the Castro regime but a relief to environmentalists worried about a major oil spill.

    Decisions by Spain-based Repsol and other companies to drill elsewhere greatly reduce the chances that a giant slick along the Cuban coast would ride ocean currents to South Florida, threatening its beaches, inlets, mangroves, reefs and multibillion-dollar tourism industry.

    The Coast Guard remains prepared to contain, skim, burn or disperse a potential slick. And Cuban officials still yearn for a lucrative strike that would prop up its economy. A Russian company, Zarubezhneft, is drilling an exploratory well in shallower waters hugging the Cuban shoreline south of the Bahamas.

    But though some oil has been found offshore, exploratory drilling in deep waters near currents that rush toward Florida has failed to reveal big deposits that would be commercially viable to extract, discouraging companies from pouring more money into the search.

    “Those companies are saying, ‘We cannot spend any more capital on this high-risk exploration. We’d rather go to Brazil; we’d rather go to Angola; we’d rather go to other places in the world where the technological and geological challenges are less,’” said Jorge Piñon, an oil-industry analyst at the University of Texas who consults with U.S. and Cuban officials as well as energy companies.

    “I don’t foresee any time in the future exploration in Cuba’s deep-water north coast. It is, for all practical purposes, over.”

    Despite these frustrations, Cuba’s need for oil wealth and energy independence has only intensified.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/fl-cuban-oil-drilling-retreat-20130414,0,5594782.story

  32. The chilling effect on public expression in Venezuela is in no small part to the presence there a few years back of Ramiro Valdes, the old Moncadista and Interior Minister. who once proclaimed that the internet is a wild horse that has to be tamed. He gave Chavez advice on how to crush dissent, and we saw the results in the arrest of an honest judge and a former presidential candidate. Che figured out very quickly that the most dangerous enemies are not the old die-hsrds but the liberal reformers. Venezuela is a mess, and I find it disappointing that free expression has been chilled to the extent that young people feel they cannot be shown with Yoani on Facebook.

  33. Nick, #2

    Picking up on the language you chose to use in the last thread to educate and enlighten us:

    In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have a pair of megalomaniacal murdering brothers rule a country and a people for over 50 years.

    In an ideal world, real life Cuban people would not have to flee their country on rafts to get as far away as possible from said pair of megalomaniacal murdering brothers.

    In an ideal world, Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero would still be alive and with their families and not killed as they were at the hands of the castro brothers’ dictatorship.

    In an ideal world, there would be an independent investigation going on right now into the deaths of Payá and Cepero.

    But you’re not interested in the truth, are you, Nick. If you were interested in the truth, you’d be the first to join the call for an independent investigation. But you haven’t.

    Cada loco con su tema, Nick.

  34. Nick !! YOU TRYING TO GET OUT OF THIS ONE?? JE JE JE! TRY AGAIN!! YOU ARE ALWAYS TRYING TO SHIFT FOCUS TO THE BAD OLD U.S.A. OR ANY NON-CUBA RELATED TOPIC! PLEASE, GIVE THE READERS OF THESE COMMENTS SOME CREDIT DEAR! THEY CAN SEE THAT TACTIC A MILE AWAY!!

  35. re #74 & #78 of Yoani’s previous blog.

    One of the reasons I find Yoani’s blogs to be interesting is that she writes about the topic (Cuba) within various different contexts….

    For example the contexts of: Cuban-American community in Miami, the novels of Vargas Llosa, Venezuelan elections, etc etc etc…

    Any objective person can see that comment #74 is putting F.Castro’s long period in power within the context of the historical era and the the geo-politics of the region.

    The problem is not Humberto’s lack of objectivity (thats understandable given his viewpoint), but perhaps his apparent inability to apply or understand or deal with context.

    Just keep copying and pasting…keep providing all those links(some are actually interesting).

    That’s Humberto’s preference and that’s fine if thats what he wants to do…

    Cada uno a su gusto………..

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