Raul Castro’s Absurd Hope

Carlos Alberto Montaner in the Miami Herald:

Raul Castro’s absurd hope: a socio-capitalistic system

Another Jan. 1 passed. What’s happening in Cuba 53 years after the communist dictatorship was imposed? Some important things. Fidel, now 85, distanced from power by his age and his chronic ailments, no longer commands. He has some moments of lucidity amid a spreading fog of senility like the one that affects his two older siblings, Angelita (89) and Ramón (87), still alive but demented.

While not dozing, Fidel entertains himself watching international television and reading reports delivered to him by his aides. They treat him reverently, as if he maintained some sort of real authority. It’s pure illusion. Every once in a while, some traveler spurred by some kind of anthropological curiosity interrupts his lethargy, and the Maximum Leader, with slurred speech and in a very low voice, which increases the torture, inflicts upon him some badly put-together tales about the Sierra Maestra or explains to him how the solution for hunger can be found in the plantations of moringa, an abundant comestible plant he has just discovered.

In melancholy tones, the Comandante warns that his brother Raúl is disassembling his entire “revolutionary oeuvre,” but sighs that he can do nothing to stop it, although sometimes he phones some of his old buddies to complain. They hate to listen to him. The ears of State Security are very sensitive and any complicity, even though passive, could be costly. They answer him with vague and evasive phrases that won’t compromise them. That’s called “talking to the microphones.” It is the misery of the games of power.

Meanwhile, Raúl Castro continues the slow demolition of the disaster his brother bequeathed to him. The opinion, summarized by a close aide on condition of anonymity, is implacable: “Fidel engaged in politicking and forgot how to govern.” He goes on: Fidel “surrounded himself with corrupt and incompetent acolytes who praised him constantly but mocked him in private.” The sentence that ends the man’s diagnosis is very harsh: “The country’s biggest problem is not the American embargo but the heritage of Fidelismo. Raúl should stand a few people before the firing squad.”

I don’t know if history will absolve Fidel as he predicted 60 years ago, but the Raulistas already have condemned him.

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