Outside Caracas, Chavismo’s unfulfilled promises

VALENCIA, Venezuela (AP) — It’s just after nightfall and the power is out again in untold hundreds of thousands — probably millions — of Venezuelan homes. If the government knows how many, it’s not saying. It hasn’t issued reports on problems in the public power grid since 2010.

In Venezuela’s third-largest city, Pedro Martinez dons a shirt for visitors drawn by the flicker of candles inside his one-story, cement-block house in a middle-class district. The Caribbean heat is sticky thick inside. A mesh hammock hangs by the front door.

Venezuela Election Hinterlands

“This happens nearly every day,” Martinez says of the blackout, holding a candle close so a reporter can take notes. It’s the day’s second outage. The first struck just after noon.

It’s been like this for five years, pretty much everywhere but Caracas, the capital. Worsening power outages, crumbling infrastructure and other unfulfilled promises witnessed this week in a trip through the country’s industrial heartland could be an important factor in Sunday’s election to replace socialist President Hugo Chavez, who died last month after a long battle with cancer.

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Chavez’s prostration – Cuba and Brazil’s behavior

Two  interesting  points about the Venezuela conundrum made in this  Economist piece:

1) “Mr Chávez’s prostration has given Cuba unhealthy sway over events in the country. Cuba’s influence was already considerable: it provides Mr Chávez with intelligence and security advisers in return for Venezuelan oil.”

Are the Cubans indeed  gatekeepers to Chavez? Controlling who he sees? Or does it boil down to Chavez’s daughters?

2) Mercosur, led by Brazil, suspended Paraguay’s last year “after its left-wing president was impeached—constitutionally, albeit with unseemly haste.” The Economist says Mercosur should “now similarly suspend Venezuela until it adheres to its own constitution.”

Many will remember Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro’s alleged attempt to persuade Paraguayan military leaders to act to thwart the impeachment of Fernando Lugo.

Maduro and National Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello are now engaged in a political high-wire act, without a constitutional net.