On December 12, the Havana Times headlined "Chavez's Future Means Unknowns for Cuba," saying:
The future of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) without Chavez hangs in the balance. Founded in 2004, it grew to eight countries.
They include Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, Ecuador, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
It's a cooperative system of goods and services trade outside the exploitive WTO-international banking one.
Its goal is ambitious. It aims for regionally integrating and developing social societies throughout the region.
It's based on complementarity, not competition; solidarity, not domination; cooperation, not exploitation; and respect for national sovereignty free from predatory countries and corporate giants.
What will happen without Chavez? How will Cuba be affected? It depends on Venezuelan cooperation. It gets 100,000 daily barrels of oil on "highly concessional terms."
In return, Havana provides medical and educational services. Cuba expert Arturo Lopez Levy calls the arrangement "the backbone of ALBA."
Before leaving for Cuba, Chavez acknowledged his risks. In case anything happens, he named Vice President Nicolas Maduro his preferred successor. He urged Venezuelans to choose him if new elections are necessary.
Some observers believe National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello may challenge him. He's a longtime close Chavez ally.
It's thought his influence within Venezuela's military exceeds Maduro's support. Whether or not a power struggle emerges remains to be seen.
Hopefully Chavez will recover enough to return for his inauguration. Doing so would end speculation provided he regains full health.
Challenging weeks lie ahead. He's a warrior. He's indomitable. He achieved what few thought possible. Don't count him out.
At the same time, another president is possible. Cuba relies on ALBA trade relations. Losing it would replicate the post-Soviet "Special Period." Crisis conditions followed. Havana hopes that won't repeat.
Levy believes "With or without Chavez, Cuba will have to deepen its transition to a mixed economy and open itself up to foreign capital."
With it come huge risks. In his book titled "Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire," James Petras exposed six myths of direct foreign investment (FI).