Castros are Venezuelan kingmakers

Benny Avni in the New York Post:

Castros are Venezuelan kingmakers

headshotThe relationship between Venezuela under Nicolas “I Am Chavez” Maduro and Cuba is bound to tighten — and that’s bad news for America.

Sworn-in Friday as Venezuela’s interim president, Maduro is often described as “hand-picked” by Hugo Chavez, the strongman who ruled Caracas for 14 years until his death last week, to succeed him.

In fact, Maduro owes his rise as much to Raul and Fidel Castro.

And the Castros need to maintain the co-dependency between Cuba and Venezuela, which means trouble for pretty much everyone outside the small circle of ruling elites in Caracas and Havana.

Yes, many Venezuelans are still weeping for the mausoleum-bound Chavez. He cared so much about the poor that he made sure the country had lots of them, and growing ever poorer. Now his government-dependent fans pray for the survival of the system that (barely) sustains them.

Yet lots of Venezuelans rejoice over Chavez’s demise and hope for the end of the Chavista system. But the most promising opposition leader, Enrique Capriles, is unlikely to win the “election” that, as announced yesterday, is set for April 14. Even after Chavez, the Chavistas hold all the electoral keys, and they will assure Maduro’s victory.

Top Latin leaders showed for Friday’s funeral to pay their respects to Chavez, though only few of their nations (Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua) had joined the Chavez-named “Bolivarian revolution.” The larger countries (Brazil, Mexico, Colombia) have gone to the opposite way, toward free-market economies, for the benefit of their peoples.

Also present coffin-side were the world’s rogues who share the Chavistas’ America-hatred: Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and top officials from various terror gangs: Hezbollah, Hamas and Colombia’s FARC. All are tight with Caracas and enjoy its petrodollar largesse.

Washington, by contrast, sent James Derham, a caretaker of the US embassy in Caracas, to the funeral, while some DC has-beens, like embattled Rep. Greg Meeks of Queens (who said he was “honored” to be representing the United States at the funeral) tagged along. That low-level representation reflects a decade and a half of bad blood between Chavez and “el diablos.”

Nevertheless, President Obama has already expressed hope for turning a “new page” in relations, and some at the State Department undoubtedly hope to soon send a full-fledged ambassador to Caracas.

(Will it be ex-Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), who promoted Chavez on TV for years? Or Jesse Jackson, who compared Chavez to George Washington at the funeral?)

Sorry: No new page will turn anytime soon — and you can thank the Castros.

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