Skip to comments.Even when Fidel Castro dies, little will change for Cubans
Posted on 02/14/2007 1:53:02 PM PST by knighthawk
There are not many Cubans prepared to use the "D" word in reference to Fidel Castro, but Angela, a medic in her late twenties, has no fear.
"He is practically a dictator, but Cuban people don't see that," she said. "The idea in this country is control - that is all that matters."
Four years ago, Angela - who is understandably not fearless enough to give her real name - applied to leave and start a new life in America. Serious illness may have forced the Maximum Leader into the background, but she is not changing her plans.
"I don't want to leave but I have no choice," she said sadly at her simple home in the capital. "Many of my family are in the States, and the economic situation here is so bad. I hope change will come, but change is very difficult when a country has been thinking one way for 50 years."
That way has been Castro's way, ever since he led the popular 1959 revolution that overthrew the corrupt, venal Batista government, and soon declared the Caribbean island a communist state.
Indeed, Havanans are so accustomed to Fidel - as he is invariably called - that some inadvertently talk about if he dies, not when. The aura of immortality around the 80-year-old, who has survived the ill-wishes of 10 US presidents, has only been fortified by his slow recovery from intestinal difficulties that wags on the Havana's diplomatic circuit call "Castro-enteritis", and which required major surgery and his very probably permanent withdrawal from public life.
As people such as Angela know, his eventual demise will not bring the change in direction craved by Washington and the aggressive Cuban exile community 90 miles across the Straits of Florida, who forecast popular clamour for elections and parliamentary government.
In the six months since he was incapacitated, the regime has already pulled off what its enemies have long said would be impossible: they have built a post-Castro communist system. The only difference is that, instead of being led by a single person, Cuba is led by that single person's brother, Raul, who chairs a group of trusted ministers.
"These guys know what they are doing," said Marifeli Perez-Stable of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think tank. "The country, in the short run, is not going to collapse." Even a senior American intelligence official said last month that Raul had the support and respect of military leaders critical to ensuring a leadership succession within the existing system.
A European diplomat in Havana commented: "It is clear there won't be radical change in the near future and that when Castro dies there won't be either. The government has noticed the reaction to his poor health has been calm. You could say he might already be dead. It could be that things will carry on like this for years. The regime is confident at the moment. Nickel [a major export] prices are high and tourism is doing well. There is support from China, Venezuela and the general Leftward shift in South America."
When Russian support - and a $4-6 billion annual subsidy - disappeared with the Soviet Union, Cuba felt very alone, but that is no longer the case. At 75, Raul follows the old Soviet model of an unknown septuagenarian as successor, though he has been marginally less opaque than the old men of Moscow.
His few comments since being appointed acting president suggest an awareness that the economy is in dire need of modernisation from the centrally controlled model that his big brother has refused to reform. Cubans have health and education systems that compare favourably with the developing world's, but the people are dirt poor, despite an improvement on the severity of the 1990s, and still flee poverty and repression in their thousands each year.
The junior Castro has allowed the state-controlled press to criticise transport and housing, and he has questioned the efficiency of transport deals with the Chinese. He has said he favours a more collaborative style of government and welcomes different opinions. He comes across as more practical than ideological. The four-hour speeches and constant warnings of imperialistic threats will not be emulated.
But Raul has been alongside his infinitely more charismatic sibling since the early days, and is the world's longest-serving defence minister, just as Fidel is the world's longest-serving leader. He may know that some risks need to be taken to relieve poverty, and he might welcome friendly overtures from the Americans once his brother is gone.
But there has not been a hint from the new man that Cuba's thorough subjugation of political and media freedom will be eased. What is more, there are plenty of Cubans who treasure their equality, even if it means shortages for all. They are likely to give the new leader a lengthy period of grace.
Those Miami exiles who rather tastelessly planned street parties last month, when the word went around that their nemesis was on his death bed, will need to put their celebrations on ice. Democracy will, like Dictator, remain an unmentionable D word in Cuba for some time.
Teh difference is that Fidel is competent; Raul isn't. When Fidel's gone, he won't have a competent successor. (He kills them all.) That means that the regime will be easier to depose.
"Those Miami exiles who rather tastelessly planned street parties "
Tastless? I plan on celebrating the dath of that scum.
I have the feeling that plans are being made for the turn over and that Raul is not the communist that his brother thought him to be.
I think that he will be extremely practical and that will lead to substantial change.
I'll be celebrating his death myself.
See #7. Good thing dynachrome wears glasses so he can see his errors clearly after he posts! LOL
True the Cubans have been brain washed for far too long..
Like the Russians have never known freedom and still don't know freedom..
Same with the Chinese..
"Substantial" should be spelled $ubstantial.
Cuba will try to go the Chinese route of going for the $$ while reserving the right to run you over with a tank when they feel you are getting too "uppity"
Without a cleansing of the communists (a.k.a. socialists in a hurry) from Cuban politics and government there will be no change.
We need Nuremberg style trials for those in power and to treat the communists like the Germans treated the Nazi cancer that infected their country.
America must pay attention to the words and thought processes that comprises this statement.
We have been under a creeping socialist gun since at least the 1930's, and even more blatant in the last couple of years.
I expect the socialists to step up their assault on America in the next couple of years and, God forbid .. should another one get the White House, we will be hard pressed to teach American history to children that scratch their head and look at us with fantastic incredulity.
"You walked to your school"?
I met a friend of mine in WalMart yesterday and we chatted about this and that.
He is a van driver for the local school system and he explained ...
When he arrives at the school in the morning, there will be a line of 15 or 20 vans .. a 'guard' allows one to pull up to the door and off-load .. the 3 - 7 kids that get off go into the doors, are wanded, patted down and backpacks searched and then go a little further where they take off their shoes. The shoes are inspecterd and given back.
This is a combination school 1st through junior high.
I was with my two home schooled kids in WalMart and, after hearing this they just exhaled .. Whew! ..
Those kids my friend described didn't just happen yesterday ... this has been building for a long time.
So ... what will America be in 50 years?
I don't know, but I hope I'm dead if and when we come to the realization that she might be gone ...
Oh great knarf, thanks for that. I think I'll go home and crawl inside a bottle of single-malt on that note. ;)
Sometimes it's not such a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
Eight, not counting Carter and Clintoon.
Kind of the way it was when Tony Soprano was in a coma and Sylvio was forced by circumstance into the role of acting boss.
"Separately, two Marxist theorists-Antonio Gramsci of Italy and Georg Lukacs of Hungary-concluded that the Christianized West was the obstacle standing in the way of a communist new world order. The West would have to be conquered first." From this article ... and others
From this article ... and others
To support my statement.