Jan 25/07 | On Cuba as cause and Venezuela as consequence: Inheriting your way to trouble
Annointed by the hand that has destroyed a nation
PMBComment: One of the most credible theories for the suddenly maddening pace of Chavez’s “revolutionary” announcements is related to the struggle for power purportedly underway inside of
It has been more than apparent for some time that Chávez is intent on being acknowledged around the world as Fidel Castro’s favored pupil and effective heir. It is safe to assert that in the international arena he faces little competition for this infatuated aim.
However, where there is a great deal of competition and even growing opposition to such airs is within
The almost daily tirades and shows of blatant authoritarism by Hugo Chávez could therefore be intended for a different audience and for a very different purpose. Producing a schism among the Cuban military might dash the hopes of those who have been promoted into positions of civilian and armed power by Raul Castro and who have reportedly always resented the fact that Chávez’s limitless largesse brought about a reversal of long overdue, and quite popular, reforms. The most obvious early loser, if the “fidelistas” were to succeed aided by Caracas, could be the Vice President Carlos Lage, who most likely would be the top man in a Raul dominated “transition”. His unexpected visit to
If the above were a credible explanation for the events that are rattling
Note: In the fascinating article I post below Bernd Debusmann from Reuters coins the term “tropical talibans” to tag, among others, the following diehard Fidelistas: Otto Rivero, vice president of the Council of Ministers for the Battle of Ideas, Hassan Perez, vice president of the Union of Communists, Miriam Yanet Martin, president of the Jose Marti pioneers youth group and Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque
FEATURE-Fidel Castro fades out. Tropical Taliban next?
17 September 2006
(c) 2006 Reuters Limited
By Bernd Debusmann, Special Correspondent
HAVANA, Sept 17 (Reuters) - No matter whether Fidel Castro returns to office or not, diplomats and dissidents say the post-Fidel era has already begun and some foresee an ideological tug of war between "tropical Taliban" and proponents of Chinese-style economic reforms.
Castro, 80, handed over power to his brother Raul, 75, on July 31 after undergoing emergency surgery for intestinal bleeding blamed on overwork. While officials said the elder Castro was recovering well, he was too ill to make an appearance at a summit of 116 Third World countries in
The Castro brothers hold world records for years in power: Fidel is the world's longest-serving head of government, Raul the longest-serving defense minister -- both 47 years.
"It is difficult to envisage Fidel running the country as he used to, and with the same vigor," said a Latin American diplomat. "He is on the way to becoming a symbol and a figurehead."
More than 70 percent of
Her husband, economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe, was released for health reasons 19 months later. Most of the others are still in prison and the Ladies in White stage a silent protest march every Sunday. Espinosa Chepe and Leiva aired their views in an interview in their tiny apartment in
Both see economic reforms managed by the Cuban Armed Forces headed by Raul Castro as the best hope for the near future, a sentiment echoed privately by many Cubans who tend to complain more vociferously about economic misery than the political system.
"What would be disastrous would be for the tropical Taliban to run the country," Espinosa Chepe said. The phrase refers to a younger generation of officials mentored personally by Fidel Castro.
The phrase Taliban is borrowed from the Afghan militants whose narrow interpretation of Islam caused them to ban music and stone adulterers to death.
To hear Cubans tell it, the list of true believers includes Otto Rivero, vice president of the Council of Ministers for the Battle of Ideas, Hassan Perez, vice president of the Union of Communists, Miriam Yanet Martin, president of the Jose Marti pioneers youth group and Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque.
They are all in their 30s and early 40s and their views are reflected by a banner along
The true believers versus potential economic reformers scenario has gained so much currency it prompted questions at a news conference during the non-aligned summit that ended on Saturday.
Economy Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez, responding to a reporter's question, said: "In the hypothetical case that Comandante Fidel remains ill, would there be a change in Cuban policy toward a market opening? I can categorically say that is not foreseen, the Cuban people do not want that."
CLOWNS AND MASSEURS
Castro initiated a limited economic opening in the early 1990s but rolled it back three years ago, cutting licenses for services that private individuals can provide, including clowns and masseurs.
Why do some Cubans place their hopes for reforms on the Armed Forces? They were the first to introduce capitalist business practices into
The Cuban sugar industry is run by a general, as is the ports administration and the lucrative cigar industry.
"It is difficult to see political change but Raul will have to introduce economic reforms if he wants to avoid a social explosion," said Espinosa Chepe, the dissident economist. "The Armed Forces are the best organized entity in the country and much more flexible than any other."
Outside experts agree the Armed Forces would be a better agent of change, if it were to come, than any other institution. "Unlike the Communist Party, the armed forces are widely popular," said Hal Klepak, a history professor at the Royal Military Institute of Canada and author of a book on the Cuban military.
Critics of the embargo, including prominent dissidents, see it as a chief reason for Castro's long survival. "Without it, he wouldn't have been able to foster nationalism the way he did. Without it, he couldn't have blamed the
Most of the world agrees. The embargo is regularly put to a vote at the United Nations. Last year, the margin was 182 in favor of a resolution to end the embargo, four against.