The visit this week of Brazil's former president Lula da Silva to Havana could help to unravel the current political crisis in Venezuela according to Argentine political analyst Rosendo Fraga, since both countries have much to lose if the conflicting situation continues.
On the one hand, the Cuban economy depends on the provision of Venezuelan oil and for Brazil if a president (in this case Nicolas Maduro) is ousted by street protests (as happened in Ukraine) it could trigger further demonstrations against president Dilma Rousseff and according to the latest opinion polls it is considered the only unpredictable factor for her re-election bid next October.
Some of Maduro's latest decisions point to an easing of tension: convening a national peace conference; adding two extra days to Carnival celebrations to hopefully keep people off the streets; back-stepping the order to oust a CNN team and the creation of a 'truth commission' to investigate the deaths caused by the confrontations and sending his foreign minister Elías Jaua on a flash round of visits to Mercosur members.
However Maduro, according to Fraga is also contradictory, since the same day he called for a peace conference, he also told his faithful militants that if one day I don't wake up as president, I'm authorizing you to take the streets to recover the motherland.
Likewise the peace dialogue was too late because the situation has been too radicalized. There have been at least 15 people killed, dozens injured, arrested and allegedly tortured. The killings mostly by the Chavista para-police groups that riding motorbikes open fire on demonstrators.
As expected the opposition refused to participate of the dialogue, which complicated Maduro. Henrique Capriles the opposition former presidential candidate who lost to Maduro in a much contested and controversial election last December called for dialogue but also for the disarming of the para-police chavista gangs whom the president in a special ceremony praised.
The other opposition leader from prison, Leopoldo Lopez called on his followers 'not to give up'. End of story the two wings of the opposition, moderate and radical, (Capriles and Lopez) consolidated unity and challenged the government by saying they will remain in the streets and will not participate in the peace dialogue because the government continue with its 'brutal repression'.
No Nicholas, you are not going to use me to save a moribund government, said Capriles while student organizations insisted they would not dialogue with murderers and communist Cubans.
At the same time there were signs of cracks in the government block: Jose Vielma Mora, the loyal Chavista governor of Tachira (next to the Colombian border) and the most rebellious state, which Maduro militarized, sent paratroopers and cut internet called for an end to repression and insisted I don't agree with having political prisoners.
However in the scenario of Maduro having to step down, according to Fraga it would have strong political consequences in the whole region. And not only for Cuba and Brazil.
In the case of Argentina, where president Cristina Fernandez has been the strongest supporter of Maduro, the combination of economic crisis and disapproval in the streets, (threatening her Venezuelan peer), is highly challenging. Likewise the Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa who was defeated last Sunday in municipal elections in the main cities, first loss in seven successive victories and he played his personal prestige in the campaign.
In Nicaragua, another Venezuela ally, the opposition which seemed condemned to accept the indefinite re-election reform proposed by president Daniel Ortega has gained new strength to protest. The only exception of the Socialist experiment in the Americas is Bolivia where Evo Morales leads with forty points over the opposition candidate for the end of the year presidential election.
For the US, the exit of Maduro could mean the end of a factor of agitation and disturbance in the region, but it's also true that the US growing self sufficiency in energy, has considerably reduced Washington's strategic interest in Venezuela.