One of the underreported aspects of this week’s shock Cuba-U.S. agreement is that it quite possibly rang the funeral bell for the Venezuelan regime. As Walter Russell Mead noted in an essay on Thursday, Havana had Venezuela on the brain when making the deal:
The Castro brothers are getting older, and the outlines of a post-Castro power structure are emerging. The oil crash and the mounting problems of Venezuela’s embattled government make the Cubans nervous; Venezuela replaced the USSR as Cuba’s sugar daddy, supplying heavily discounted oil to help keep Castroism alive. At the same time, the Obama administration is probably the most sympathetic U.S. administration Cuba is likely to get, so it’s a good time to explore the possibilities of an improved relationship.
The Cuba was the one occupying the headlines this week, but the Venezuelan regime might actually end before the Castros’ does—and it’s the Cubans who are telling us this.As the WaPo‘s Charles Lane noted on Twitter:
No one has better intell on Venezuela than Raul Castro. He seems to think the place is collapsing and it's time to court Washington.— Charles Lane (@ChuckLane1) December 17, 2014