Chavez, a close ally, announced in Caracas that he was headed to Havana to celebrate Castro's birthday with him.
"I will be with him as of tonight in Havana. I'm taking him a good present, a good cake, and there we will celebrate the 80 years of that great figure of our America," Chavez said.
Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil exporter, has helped Cuba skirt an increasingly strict U.S. embargo by providing oil at preferential terms and boosting trade and cooperation efforts.
But there is another group of Republicans that are potentially at odds with this sentiment and that is the mainstreet conservatives and the rest of the Republican Party TM. They want the economy humming a long nicely and to do that, they need oil. Our second largest foreign oil supplier is Venezuela which is also currently supplying oil to Cuba.
If I remember correctly, the US has a set of laws that state that a company cannot do business in both the US and Cuba. It's one or the other. And here is where we can bust the alliance.
The Republicans need the Conservative Cuban Americans Exiles to keep Florida. And they need the large amount of oil from Venezuela to keep the economy humming. My guess is that the Republican Leadership would sooner snub the Conservative Cuban American Exiles than turn down Venezuelan oil ESPECIALLY after BP f*cked up the Alaskan Pipeline by not doing preventive maintainance so they could save nickles and dimes.
So, here is the plan. (1st) Stir up sh*t. Push "our" conservative Cuban American congresscritters demand that the US to uphold the US laws preventing trade with companies that violate the embargo. (2nd) Watch the republican leadership have to choose between a powerful but limited sect and the powerful but larger rest of america in terms of keeping the economy going. How many Republican Congressmen and Senators would lose if Bush upheld the law and drove gas prices to $5 a gallon? Too many. Possibly enough to shift the balance of both houses. (3rd) Watch the Conservative Cuban American Exiles blame Bush for the new 'Elian'. We gain house seats in competitve races in Florida and NJ.
It's mean, it's realpolitik, it's fighting with Brass Knuckles, but may be very succesful. Just as the republicans use wedge issues to divide the center from the left, so do we need to divide the center from the right. We need to drive the issues into situations were the Republicans are in Lose - Lose situations. And the dichotomy of Oil versus CANF is easy.