Sunday, February 15, 2009

Castro Says Cuba’s Future Depends on Venezuela Referendum

By Jose Orozco

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- The future of Cuba depends on the results of tomorrow’s Venezuelan referendum on whether to eliminate term limits for elected officials, former Cuban president Fidel Castro said. “Our future is inseparable from what happens next Sunday, the day of the referendum on the constitutional amendment,” Castro wrote in an editorial published on the Cuba Debate Web site. “There is no alternative but victory.” Communist Cuba receives about 90,000 barrels of Venezuelan oil a day in exchange for services from thousands of Cuban professionals, including doctors, agricultural specialists and athletic trainers that Castro has sent to live in Venezuela since their agreement started in 2000. Venezuela’s constitution limits presidents to two six-year terms. President Hugo Chavez, a Castro ally who has been in office for 10 years and whose current term expires in 2013, is holding the vote so he can run in the 2012 election. Venezuelans narrowly defeated a constitutional amendment in 2007 that would have lifted the term limit for the president only. Castro, who led the Cuban revolution and overthrew U.S. ally Fulgencio Batista in 1959, has remained out of public view since 2006 after undergoing surgery for an intestinal ailment. He officially passed the presidency of Cuba to his younger brother, Raul, early last year. The U.S. has maintained a trade embargo against Cuba since 1962, when Castro expropriated the land of U.S. citizens and companies. Cuban leaders blame the embargo for the Caribbean nation’s economic and social problems.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jose Orozco in Caracas at

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