Daily Archives: June 27, 2011

John Paul Rathbone

What to make of the fact that Hugo Chávez is governing from a Cuban hospital bed? The rumour mill has gone into overdrive amid a Soviet-style news blackout since Venezuela’s socialist president was operated on in Havana for a “pelvic abscess” 17 days ago.

Government officials are playing it all down as mere scaremongering by the far-right – although when the president’s mother starts praying for her son’s health, you have to wonder. Indeed, it would be a game changer if Mr Chávez was critically ill – and not just for Venezuela. It could mark the beginning of the end for Havana’s symbiotic relationship with Caracas, whereby cheap Venezuelan oil is swapped for Cuban intelligence and medical expertise. And then there is the oil that Venezuela ships to the United States too, accounting for around 10 per cent of the US’s imported energy needs.