When the landlord knocks on the door
Just how important is Hugo Chavez and his petrodollars to the survival of the Castro regime?
Very, as you can see from the photograph above.
In the good old days when Cuba was a far-flung colonial outpost of the Soviet Empire, Fidel Castro and his cronies would pull out all stops to welcome to Havana even mid-ranking Russian officials.
And why not? Moscow then literally bankrolled the regime.
But at least those dour Soviets stuck to protocol and planned and announced their visits well ahead of time.
Not so with Hugo Chavez.
The Venezuelan president arrives in Havana more or less whenever he feels like it – and gets treated by the top representatives of the regime with all the pomp and colour (and media coverage) befitting a visiting potentate. Or an absent landlord. Or a very rich if slightly dotty uncle.
That is why the photograph above shows Chavez, currently on an unscheduled visit to Havana, being shown around the Malecon by the three men deemed by many to be the key to Cuba's immediate future: Raul Castro, Carlos Lage and Felipe Perez Roque.
And yes, at least two of the Cubans are laughing at the Venezuelan's joke.
Photo: Ernesto Matrascusa (Reuters)