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Cuban Blogger Says Reforms Depend On Outcome Of Venezuela Election

posted 12 Apr 2013, 16:08 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 12 Apr 2013, 16:09 ]

Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez says Venezuelan election outcome could force change in Cuba.

 LIMAPERU (APRIL 12, 2013)(REUTERS) - Cuba's best known dissident, blogger Yoani Sanchez, said on Friday (April 12) that many Cubans believe the island's future path will be determined by the outcome of Venezuela's April 14 elections.

Venezuelan diplomatic and economic ties to Cuba have been a central part of the electoral campaign between Hugo Chavez's chosen successor, Nicolas Maduro, and Henrique Capriles, the former governor of Miranda state.

Speaking during an interview with a Peruvian radio station on Friday, Sanchezsaid that many Cubans believe that Raul Castro's communist-run government would be forced to significantly reform if faced with a loss of economic support from Venezuela.

"I perceive the average Cuban is frightened that subsidies might be cut. If Maduro is not re-elected, the worst moments from the 'special period' will return, the economic crisis, the shortages of food, the collapse of transport. But people feel that if Capriles wins and those subsidies are cut, Raul Castro will be forced to make profound reforms. We are obligated to find a solution in our country," she said.

At a campaign rally in March, the youthful Capriles vowed to end the shipments of subsidized oil shipments to Cuba and slammed Maduro as a puppet of Havana.

Sanchez said that while high-ranking Cuban officials may be worried, the majority of Cubans would welcome a change in Venezuela's government.

"I believe that right after he (Capriles) won, many people in Havana will feel that they have lost the economic opportunities they have. In Cuba there are many pockets that are being filled by the subsidies, at the expense of the people. Many people in the state hierarchy have their hands in the resources that come fromVenezuela, and are appropriating and using them using methods of subjugation and repression. Some will run, others will applaud and others will smile. I think that the majority will smile," she said.

Sanchez, who is on day 50 of an 80-day world tour, was granted a passport in February under Cuba's sweeping immigration reform that went into effect this year. She has won several international prizes for blogging about life in Cuba but has been unable to collect them until leaving the island.

On Friday, Sanchez said that she was inspired by the optimism of Peruvians and hoped to spread that optimism back home in Cuba.

"I believe that Peruvians believe that the future will all be better. We have lost that in Cuba. I am leaving with some of that optimism. We Cubans have been losing our way, and I am taking some of that optimism back with me to the island," she said.