"If any Gorbachev raises his head around here," snarled Castro as recently as 2002, "we’ll promptly chop it off!"
Thus spoke Raul — not Fidel — Castro in 2002. Yet this is the man who Democrats, the MSM (and the scholarly "Cuba Experts" they’re trotting out this week) assure us will engineer a Cuba regime "opening" based on the "Chinese mode." Needless to say, this Cuba "opening" will demand a reciprocal prompt U.S. "opening" towards it.
Not only would such an opening condemn Cubans to further tyranny, it would loot the U.S. taxpayer.
The announcement this week of Fidel Castro’s retirement was a mere formality. You’ll recall the identical announcement July of 2006. In fact, many Cuba watchers will tell you that his little brother, Raul, as head of Cuba’s Armed Forces, has been mostly running Cuba — the nuts and bolts of the thing — for decades, and more or less single-handedly for the past five years. In 2003 Fidel Castro probably had a stroke. Midway through that year he was noticed babbling incoherently (more than usual) during speeches, and pausing repeatedly as his mind seemed to grope fruitlessly. Cuba watchers noticed that he soon started reading his speeches, ponderously and word for word, something utterly unthinkable during his entire illustrious career of speechmaking.
In fact, YouTube has a video of a Castro monologue from just last year where (if you understand Spanish, and between guffaws) you’ll be convinced, beyond the slightest doubt, that the man has gone totally gaga. Among the highlights: "C squared equals the speed of light"!, and "The radioactivity of cobalt lasts half a billion years"!
"So wazzup for Cuba?" many ask.
With a (very) heavy heart I’ll borrow a line from The Talking Heads: "Same as it Ever Was."
Cuba is a military dictatorship in the most genuine sense of the term which is probably why it’s never called that in the Mainstream Media. Raul Castro and his military cronies have been running Cuba for years and doing quite well in the process. Of the nineteen members of Cuba’s politburo, nine are military men. This is more than the typical Soviet-bloc state had, or the Soviet Union itself.
One Raul crony, General Julio Casas Regueiro, does much of this, controlling 300 different "companies" (state agencies often in partnership with foreign investors) in Cuba under a holding company named GAESA. Among others is Corporacion Gaviota, headed by Raul Military crony General Luis Perez Rospide. Gaviota started operating in 1990 and today owns and manages a hotel chain, an airline, a taxi company, several Marinas, tourist stores restaurants and Museums.
Over five times as many tourists visited Cuba last year, as visited in 1957 when Cuba was labeled a "tourist playground." Every dollar, Euros, whatever, spent by these tourists lands in the pocket of the only outfit in Cuba with guns — and with the strongest incentive to maintain the status-quo.
Why would Cuba’s military robber barons voluntarily upset their own apple carts? None of those "Cuba Experts" provide a clue.
All the political blather about the "U.S embargo of Cuba" or "blockade" as called by the most rabid Castrophiles, omits the fact that the U.S is currently Cuba’s biggest food supplier and 4th biggest trade partner. A few months back, trade delegations from 27 of our 50 states attended a trade fair in Cuba and signed business deals with Cuba’s Stalinist regime. In 2007 the U.S sold almost half a billion dollars worth of goods to Cuba — for cash.
That last point is the rub with the Castro regime and with its agents (on the payroll on off) in the U.S. And accounts for much of the recent hoopla about an "opening" to Cuba.
The current U.S "embargo" of Cuba amounts to little more than this: no U.S. Export- Import Bank financing of any deal with the current rulers of Cuba. In other words: no taxpayer bailout for politically-connected millionaires entering into business deals with known deadbeats and thieves (and mass-murderering Stalinists). Currently, ADM and every other agricultural company in the U.S. is perfectly free to sell Cuba whatever they want. But because of the nefarious machinations and subterfuges of the dreaded "Miami Mafia," (and their Congressional Republican allies) the U.S. taxpayer will not be left holding the bag.
Raul Castro, despite all you’re reading in the MSM, is not the one to upset the Cuban applecart. By all accounts Raul Castro was a committed Communist well before Fidel. Unlike Fidel, Raul actually joined the youth wing of Cuba’s Communist party. He did this in 1953 and traveled with his ideological cohorts to a Communist festival in Vienna that same year. From here he traveled behind the Iron Curtain and met with Soviet officials. By 1957 Khrushchev had already assigned him a personal KGB handler named Nikolai Leonov.
Fidel Castro officially declared Cuba "Socialist" only in April of 1961 and himself a "Marxist-Leninist," only in October of 1961. Yet a mini-Communist state had existed in Cuba as early as 1958. This was Raul Castro’s area of command during the anti-Batista rebellion in Cuba’s Sierra Cristal mountains.
Many Americans of Cuban heritage vividly recall the Castro brothers’ good- cop/bad-cop routine of 1959-60. Fidel was good cop. His brother, Raul, the bad- cop. "Nothing had better happen to me," Fidel would warn from his ubiquitous pulpit, hinting that his sinister brother was poised in the wings. In August of 1960 Time magazine crowned Raul Castro "the fist" of the Cuban Revolution. (Fidel was "the heart" and Che Guevara "the brains.")
But let’s get a perspective from someone who actually knew and often interacted with Raul Castro. Romanian General Ion Pacepa was the Soviet bloc’s highest ranking intelligence defector. He knew Raul Castro well for over two decades. He said, “RaÃ?Âºl has been the butcher. He has been instrumental in the killing and terrorizing of thousands of Cubans."
Pacepa regards Castro’s political police as "one of Communism’s most criminal institutions." Coming from a man who learned the ropes of his profession from Stalin’s henchmen and who served as Nikolai Ceaucescu’s chief spy, this is saying something. "I saw nothing in him suggesting he might ever want to democratize Cuba, "continues Pacepa, "Fidel gave the speeches, hour after hour but RaÃ?Âºl ran Cuba’s economy, her foreign policy, her foreign trade, her justice system, her jails, her tourism — even her hotels and her beaches….(he is) an assassin and international terrorist who made a fortune from the illegal sale of arms, drugs, and human beings…and there is no question in my mind but that he would fight tooth and nail to preserve his powers. Otherwise, sooner or later RaÃ?Âºl would have to account for his crimes, and I do not know him to be suicidal."
During the economic crisis years of the early 90’s Raul Castro inspired a tiny crack in the system by allowing small farmers’ markets. In effect this merely (and very briefly) legalized a portion of Cuba’s always thriving Black market and amounted to nothing more than permitting some oversized fruit and vegetable stands. As soon as tourist money started pouring in and the regime felt more financially secure –Whack! The door was slammed shut.
Neither of the Castros come close in ideological outlook to a Deng or Gorbachev. In 1959 they could have easily left most of Cuba’s economy in place, made it obedient to their whims, and been versions of Peron, Franco, or even Mussolini. They could have grabbed half of the economy and been Titos. They could have demanded a piece of the action from all involved and mimicked Marcos or Mobutu. But this wasn’t enough for them. They had a golden goose land in their lap — and they quickly and deliberately strangled it. I can’t imagine that either one of them will try to revive it.