Saturday, May 2, 2009

Cuba & the U.S. (4 of 11): Raul Castro's Rule, 2008 to present

If you prefer, you can read the whole Cuba report as a PDF by clicking here.

Summary:  Raul Castro operates on the same principles as Fidel.

Fidel isn’t in day-to-day control of Cuba any more; his brother Raul is. What do we know about Raul?

In 2006, 80-year-old Fidel, who needed surgery, temporarily handed political power to Raul, a spring chicken at age 76. In February 2008, a few days after Fidel announced that he would not run again for president of Cuba, Raul was unanimously elected president by the National Assembly (the Cuban equivalent of Congress). Raul now controls the military and the state security services, and is the Second Secretary of the Communist Party in Cuba.

Fidel, however, is still very much alive. He is First Secretary of the Communist Party and writes regularly for the official newspaper Granma, occasionally chastising Raul’s actions. (See, for example, the Wall Street Journal report of 4/23/09.) A substantial number of Cubans consider themselves not socialistas but  fidelistas—faithful followers of the charismatic leader of the Revolution. Fidel’s influence in Cuba remains very strong.

Raul fought alongside Fidel and Che Guevara during the Revolution. He was Fidel’s enforcer, supervising the summary execution of dozens of Batista’s supporters. In the decades that followed, he was a member of Fidel’s government, albeit a rather quiet one. There is no evidence that he has ever disagreed with Fidel’s actions in principle, nor that he has any desire to change the aims and methods of the Communist Party in Cuba.

Let us now look at what Cuba and Raul Castro stand for, working from the broadest abstraction—their ideology—to its implications for individual rights, civil liberties, the economy, and foreign relations.

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