Ben Delicious writes from Caracas: You’ve probably read it first on this website. I mean the brilliant report by my colleague from ITAR-TASS press agency, Sergei Sereda, who had informed us a couple of days ago that the health of President Hugo Chávez was a hot subject in Venezuela, bolstered by the revelation that he nipped off to Cuba for a medical check-up and some fancy ‘hyperbaric oxygen therapy’. But now comes the big news that President Chávez ‘s cancer that he had had two operations on in Cuba, in June 2011 and in February 2012, has come back with a vengeance.
In fact, he told the hushed nation about it himself, appearing on the box alongside his loyal sidekick, Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who just days ago said that the President ‘felt very good’ and that he would return from Cuba feeling better than ever, to continue as head of state.
Well, guess what? Nicolas had lied. Yep, pulled a fast one in the name of stability and calm. His friend Hugo was diagnosed with a recurrent tumour in the pelvis while he was in Cuba. A third operation would be needed. And God knows how it will come out this time. That was why Mr Chávez comforted the anxious nation with the promise that if he kicks the bucket, his buddy, Maduro, will take over. So there should be no worries, he implied. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that other political stuff that Kelly Clarkson sings about so powerfully.
Keen observers of Mr Chávez are saying that this time the Venezuelan President will probably have to step down – if he survives that is. Some cynics are actually implying that he is probably dead already and it was his double who appeared alongside Vice President Madura. But as a respectable website we do not fall for that sort of stuff and stick to the official version: that the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution is still breathing and might be back to live another day.
But here’s what is really interesting in this whole story: why is it that the Venezuelan President goes for treatment to Cuba of all places. Why not Switzerland or Britain or France or even Russia? And the answer is that Cuba actually has a pretty modern health system, something that the Castro brothers have always been very proud of. You can go to prison in Cuba for critising the people who run it, but at the same time you can get some very good medical treatment and be operated on by some top surgeons.
For obvious reasons, Mr Chávez feels more comfortable in a nation with similar ideological leanings as he has himself. Not to mention that he gets to hug Fidel Castro, his idol, every times he goes to Havana. And that is not an opportunity to be missed for any leftie ruler.
Serious commentators with fancy titles are bracing themselves for some serious analysis of the situation in Venezuela, in case Mr Chávez disappears from the political scene. The bolder ones are predicting the end of his revolution if he goes. But more sceptical ones are pointing to Cuba, where Mr Castro is half-dead already, and saying that his kid brother Raul is handling the situation swimmingly. So there is a chance that the revolution in Venezuela will survive. Especially as Mr Chávez also has a brother who is keen to have a go at the presidency – or so some people say.