Thursday, December 07, 2006

Raúl goes soft?

His brother isn't even dead yet, and already, pro tempore Cuban dictator Raúl Castro is already sabotaging "the gains of Cuba's glorious socialist revolution". First, he announces his intentions to reach out to the United States, and now he's releasing political prisoners.

Though I have announced time and time again that I am not a cynic, I have reasons to suspect that Raúl's motives are not purely altruistic. Cuba's economy has been a shambles (to put it politely) ever since the Soviet Union, and it's ridiculous sugar price supports, went the way of the great auk. Even oil handouts from Venezuela can't prevent Cuba's moribund economy from collapsing. Has Raúl read the writing on the wall?

Naturally, it's bad for this blog to hope that Raúl undoes the enormous social, political and economic damage his brother has brought upon Cuba, but communist dictatorships went out of fashion 15 years ago, and more embarrassingly, nearly all the former Warsaw pact nations now enjoy political freedoms and their attendant economic benefits that Cubans can only envy from afar. Romania, the poorest member of the Warsaw pact at the time of the organization's collapse, has a per capita GDP nearly twice that of Cuba's.

Time will tell, but Raúl will likely not produce any drastic reforms until his brother kicks the bucket sometime in early 2007. After that, all bets are naturally off. Unless the already elderly Raúl develops a terminal illness himself, time will naturally be of the essence to act quickly before a power vacuum emerges and hard liners attempt to keep the wheezing dinosaur of Soviet style communism afloat.

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