Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | January 24, 2013

Cubans turn to Santeria rituals and Catholic masses to delay Chavez’s death.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is undergoing physical therapy in Cuba, according to CNN. But his health remains a subject of speculation. He has not made any public appearances since undergoing a fourth cancer surgery in Havana six weeks ago, and his government has not released any photographs of him. More telling: Chavez has not spoken on state television for some time and that’s unlike him.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who is also Chavez’s appointed heir, announced Chavez’s inauguration, scheduled for January 10, would be delayed.

The Cubans have a lot to worry about: Venezuela currently sends an estimated 100,000 barrels of oil a day to Cuba — about two-thirds of the island’s consumption — at rates so favorable that no other country is likely to match them.

It is uncertain if a Chavez successor would continue the oil deal.

Cubans have been holding regular prayer services for Chavez. Afro-Caribbean priests who practice Santeria have been banging drums, smoking cigars and dancing feverishly to scare away Chavez’s death. Venezuelan diplomats and military officials have attended some of the services, and attendees light candles and make offerings.

Catholic churches in Havana have also held special masses for Chavez’s recovery.

Cubans do not want to return to the daily black-outs and food rationing the island suffered after the fall of Soviet Union when the Soviet subsidies dried up.

Cubans can now freely leave the island legally; and most would go to Miami. However, the Castro government said it can prevent Cubans from leaving for security reasons and “to preserve the human capital created by the revolution.”

Related: Venezuela’s Catholic Church critical of secrecy surrounding health of Hugo Chavez.


  1. Somehow how I think God will find no delay on Chavez’s demise. Abhorrent that Catholic churches are bring used for such.

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