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How Cubans View the Upcoming Elections in Venezuela

Holding our breath, between expectation and fear. No one, like us, knows what is at stake; the shockwave will reach this island

Supporters of the opposition candidate, Edmundo Gonzalez, participate in a campaign event in La Victoria, Aragua state. Photo: EFE / Rayner Peña R.

Yoani Sánchez

28 de mayo 2024

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The news arrives fragmented and confusing, but in Cuba, people have their “ears pricked up” when it comes to the electoral process in Venezuela. Amid the daily problems, the power cuts spreading across the island, and inflation that has sunk the purchasing power of much of the population, it’s hard to believe that what happens abroad can be a topic of interest here. But the date July 28 is not just any event nor is it in just any country.

At the beginning of this century, the alliance between Havana and Caracas seemed eternal. The generous oil subsidy that Hugo Chávez granted to the island allowed the Cuban regime to halt part of the economic reforms it was forced to undertake following the crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union. Like in any political marriage, both parties not only joined forces in the economy, international diplomacy, and ideological discourse but also synchronized their methods.


Chavismo began to resemble Castroism more and more. The persecution of opponents, the outlawing of political parties, the character assassination of adversaries, and exile as the only option for those who opposed them became everyday occurrences in Venezuela. The hijacking of democratic institutions, the dismantling of the free press, and the political tantrums in international forums completed the picture of similarities. But unlike Cuba, a small electoral window remained open in Venezuela to shake off Nicolas Maduro.

Now, with only a couple months left before the presidential elections in Venezuela, we Cubans are holding our breath. We know that any justification can spring from the Miraflores Palace to cancel the electoral process. We are also aware of the thousand and one tricks that authoritarians can pull out of their hats to avoid losing power. We move between expectation and fear. No one, like us, knows what is at stake.

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It’s not just about elections that could change the course for Venezuelans, but their consequences within our island are impossible to calculate. It’s not only about the probable cut in the already dwindled supply of Venezuelan oil to Cuba in recent months, but also about the message that will reach so many of my compatriots who have lost hope of shaking off a dictatorship.

If Maduro faces the polls, it is very likely that he will lose disastrously, at least that is what the polls indicate. But before that day, he can either invent a military conflict to declare a state of emergency or disqualify the main opposition candidate who overshadows him, Edmundo González Urrutia. Anything is possible, but any such manuver will sink his regime even further into discredit and economic sanctions.

Meanwhile, in Cuba, millions of eyes are watching the electoral swings of Caracas. One day we wake up skeptical, thinking, “he’ll do something, surely he will cancel everything before losing,” but the next day, optimism takes over, and we tell ourselves, “if Venezuelans can make it, maybe we will too.” There are two months left. There’s time for hope and time for disappointment. Whatever happens, the shockwave will reach this island.

This article was published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times. To get the most relevant news from our English coverage delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Dispatch.

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Yoani Sánchez

Yoani Sánchez

Filóloga y periodista cubana, apasionada por la tecnología. Es conocida por su blog Generación Y, en el cual hace una descripción crítica de su país. Su blog en un símbolo de libertad de expresión y del uso de la red como vitrina para narrar las realidades de la isla.

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