Thursday, March 09, 2006

Cuba After Fidel


In his book, After Fidel: The Inside Story of Castro’s Regime and Cuba’s Next Leader, Brian Latell poses potential outcomes for the “day after.” According to him, olive-dressed men will unquestionably play a central role in determining Cuba’s course of events, as the military establishment is the most powerful, cohesive, and influential institution. Latell presents two main scenarios. Number one: a succeeding praetorian regime dominated by Raul (and his tightly-controlled Raulista generals) takes over. Curiously, Latell leaves open the question of how enduring such a regime would be. Unlike Fidel, Raul Castro is not wed to ideological certainties, nor inclined to engage in utterly-dogmatic and fiery rhetoric. Cuban affairs specialists see him as more concerned with the long-standing widespread socio-economic hardships that continue to erode popular support. That is why he has been an advocate for economic reforms. Ultimately, these very reforms have benefited and strengthened the military, as his close collaborators have been entrusted with running some of the projects. Accordingly, Raul seems to be in favor of a Chinese type of regime (the “Beijing formula”), which implies no political freedoms for ordinary Cubans, unrelenting control over the society, and limited economic concessions. At the same time, Latell sees little chance for civilian-led dissenting groups to articulate any realistic challenge to the system for as long the all-powerful military remains united. In essence, Raul would head a rather colorful version of the same ossified and highly-repressive system.


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