Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I'm sure that many of you have read the news that U.S. intelligence services believe that Cuban dictator Fidel Castro is suffering from terminal cancer, and that their guess is that the head revolutionary will not live past the end of next year.

So, let's say that Castro is on his last legs. What can we expect when the announcement finally comes that el comandante en Jefe has died?

In my humble opinion, not much.

I hate to be the naysayer, but the belief by many that somehow the Cuban people will somehow rise up and demand freedom and democracy is only wishful thinking. While many people on the island indeed wish for something better, there are a few things to remember:

1) Fidel's brother, Raul, has been in charge since July 31, when the dictator underwent intestinal surgery. It has been no secret for years that Raul is his brother's designated successor, and that the transition has, in effect, already taken place.

2) Raul is Cuba's Defense Minister, which means he has the guns and prisons available to quash any possible populist movement for serious change.

3) As I mentioned earlier, there are many Cubans who are ready to abandon the Communist myth. However, for many Castro is the only leader they have ever known, and they have been taught since infancy that Communism is the true way. But like most human beings, many fear change more than the status quo, however bad it may be.

I also have to agree with Mustang Bobby who writes in his Miami-based blog Bark Bark Woof Woof:

And there are those who are waiting with luggage packed and yellowed documents in hand to return to Cuba and reclaim their homes and property and pick up right where they left off in January 1959.

In a way, I have a feeling that when Castro does finally hop the twig, there will be a sense of loss here among the exiles that the hard-liners hadn't planned on. Certainly they will celebrate and they will try to get the US government to lift the embargo and normalize relations with the new regime, even if it is a vestige of Castro's government, but they will also have a bit of post-Castro depression because the enemy they've fought for so long will be gone -- now what? Going back would be tough; like it or not, they don't really belong there anymore, and I doubt that they'll be welcomed back, especially by those who held out and resisted Castro in Cuba rather than up and left for Miami; "We stuck it out and endured fifty years of persecution and foodlines. You left and now you want to come back and take back your land? Creo que no."

And while there may be an increase in the number of Cubans who attempt the 90 mile trip to freedom in America, I would not expect another repeat of the 1980 Mariel boatlift.

In short, don't look for a lot.


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