Washington Post interviews Castro’s Foreign Minister

Jackson Diehl from the Washington Post had one of those opportunities that rarely present themselves to interview a high-ranking and influential member of the Castro dictatorship, Jaime Ortega y Alamino. During a trip to Washington, D.C. where he was busy lobbying for the Castro regime, Diehl was able to catch up with the Castro regime’s head cheerleader and procurer of favors who happens to also moonlight as the cardinal of the Catholic Church in Cuba.

Diehl was impressed by Ortega’s rhetoric, but then again, he would not have been sent overseas to defend and procure favors for his superiors if he could not spin a good yarn. After the interview, however, Diehl was left wanting:

“I don’t doubt the cardinal’s sincerity. But I also find it hard to believe that Raúl Castro is Cuba’s Mikhail Gorbachev. If anything, he resembles Yuri Andropov, one of Gorbachev’s aged and ailing predecessors, who knew the Soviet system was unsustainable but lacked the will or the political clout to change it. Ortega may be right that his dialogue with Raúl Castro is something new in Cuba. But the time for real change — and for deeper engagement by the United States — has not yet arrived.

6 thoughts on “Washington Post interviews Castro’s Foreign Minister”

  1. If Ortega is actually trying to sell a hardened and irredeemable criminal like Raul Castro as a new Gorbachev, then he’s either a fool or a liar. Either way, he’s doing the work of Castro, Inc., not God. Assuming the Vatican ever expects anything but skepticism bordering on contempt from Cubans like me, it will have to answer for this as well as many other offenses to the Cuban people.

  2. Asombra,

    Ortega is not a fool. Don’t even give him the benefit of the doubt for an instant. He’s a highly intelligent 73 year old man who has seen first hand how the regime works. He knows like you and I know that the regime uses political prisoners as pawns to extract favors from foreign governments, he knows that the regime is constantly loosening up and tightening its control on jobs and businesses in Cuba. The so-called free markets [that were so ballyhooed by the MSM as a sign of new freedom] existed several years ago.

    Ortega is an infinitely evil man and more evil even than the regime’s executioners, because at least with them, we know what we are dealing. They are what they are, they don’t try to hide it.

  3. Well, I expect the prelate who more or less saved Castro’s ass after the Moncada attack was a fool, meaning such people do exist and do cause serious harm even if unintentionally. Ortega, assuming he’s not being blackmailed by the regime (which is by no means out of the question), may be a fool in the sense of thinking he can manipulate or outsmart the Castro machine, which is a mistake that many have made in the past. Some people actually think they can play with the devil and win.

  4. Also, as I keep saying, this is not just an Ortega issue. It’s a Vatican issue. He’s not a free agent, though he could be feeding the Vatican misleading or skewed information. However, the Vatican was mishandling the Cuba situation even before Ortega became a serious player.

  5. Asombra,

    Thank you for shedding more light on this. All that you say is true, but let me play devil’s advocate here:

    A] If Ortega is being blackmailed, he knew that he could be blackmailed, why then did he agree to become Cuba’s cardinal? Obviously, this is a rhetorical question, but I ask it because it reflects on his moral character.

    B] If in 51 years everyone who has played these cat and mouse games with the regime has come out burnt, Ortega must have a hell of a lot of hubris [a sin] to think that he can come out victorious.

    C] Up until now, his tenure as Cardinal has been marked by absolute and total acquiescence and capitulation to the regime, could he be growing a backbone now? It seems doubtful to me as his latest action only serves to give the regime an escape route.

    D] True, he is working for the Vatican that has never had Cuba’s interest in mind, but then again, I’m sure that if he were a stronger advocate for Cuba in the way that the Pope [before he became pope] was for Poland, the Vatican might just listen a bit instead of cowtowing so disgustingly to the regime.

  6. If the blackmail issue applies, it’s possible Ortega didn’t realize or suspect the regime had dirt on him until after he became cardinal, or maybe the dirt in question didn’t happen till after he reached that rank. He would certainly have been much more closely watched for any “indiscretions” once he became the head of the Catholic Church in Cuba, particularly if he was known to have any “deviant” tendencies. The regime most definitely did not want anything close to the Poland scenario. As for hubris, well, there’s an awful lot of that going around, as always, especially among the highly placed. Maybe Ortega fancies himself a Cuban version of one of the great French cardinal-statesmen, however pathetic such a fantasy might be. I don’t think he has any more backbone now than before, but now he’s being not only allowed but encouraged to play, and that can flatter and delude certain people into overestimating their abilities and their chances. As for the Vatican, I’d much prefer that its dubious Cuba policy be due to ignorance or misreading of the real situation, but there have been too many bad moves for too long to make that the most plausible explanation, especially considering how well the previous pope knew communism firsthand. If the Vatican had been merely clueless, John Paul II should certainly have corrected that, and he only wound up playing into Castro’s hands.

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