[Marxism] Castro's Handoff Splits Miami's Cuban Exiles (WSJ)

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Thu Aug 3 13:37:23 MDT 2006

Carrol Cox writes:

> Walter Lippmann wrote:
>> Keeping in mind the Wall Street Journal's relentless hostility
>> toward the Cuban government and the social system it defends,
> [clip]
>> August 3, 2006; Page A4
> The WSJ is two quite separate pages. The editorial page people and the
> news people hardly even nod to each other in passing. Hence "relentless
> hostility" does not necessarily apply to the news staff. The assumption
> seems to be that the paper has two different audiences. One audience
> wants information. The other audience wants to have their prejudices
> stroked. The news pages address the former, the editorial & op-ed pages
> address the latter.
You're right to make this distinction, which is typically the case, but you
might have been somewhat surprised to see today's WSJ editorial page also
take a milder line than the rabid mainstream press and politicians who don't
want the US to have anything to do with Raul Castro or the present Cuban
leadership except to accelerate efforts to overthrow it.

The editorial reflects the growing pressure by agribusiness, resource
companies, the tourist industry and other US corporate lobbies to lift the
embargo and allow them to compete for trade and investment opportunities in
Cuba. In some academic, business, and political circles Raul is already
being wishfully portrayed as a potential Cuban Deng Xiaoping with whom the
US government should engage rather than scorn.

After the obligatory blather about how tyrannical and ruthless are the
Castro brothers and how long-suffering are the Cuban people, and taking it
as a given that Fidel's absence is permanent, the editorial goes on to say:

"Enter Raúl, five years younger than Fidel, and, historically, every bit as
dedicated to the revolution. During their exile in Mexico in the 1950s, Raúl
was the brother who befriended Che Guevara and he encouraged the adoption of
a communist hard-line in 1960. Beginning in Mexico and especially when
consolidating power after they overthrew Batista in 1959, Raúl did the bulk
of Fidel's political dirty work.

"And yet, despite this brutal past, Raúl is now widely thought to be the
reformer. Some of this is relative, given the harshness of his narcissistic
older brother. But Cuba watchers say that Raúl has been known to express
concern for the suffering of the Cuban people under the current system and
has been a consistent voice for economic change.

"As minister of defense, Raúl has also been in charge of the military which
owns and profits from the most lucrative businesses in Cuba, particularly
tourism. He has undoubtedly noticed how China's military has prospered from
market liberalization. Should the U.S. trade embargo be lifted, he knows
that he and his cadre of raulistas would be the immediate beneficiaries.

"Raúl has already successfully won one internal round for economic reform.
Back in the early 1990s, when Soviet support ended and the Cuban economy
sank ever lower, he pushed to allow at least some private economic activity,
as well as more foreign investment, to alleviate the scarcities. Small
farmers' markets, "restaurants" in private homes and taxi services permitted
to carry tourists popped up around the country. Along with Spanish hoteliers
putting capital down on Cuban beaches, these changes helped reverse a
desperate slide.

"Those same reforms also began to threaten Fidel's power, however. And he
quickly closed the tiny space for Cuba's private sector, creating a system
of economic apartheid in which foreigners and the military have prospered
but ordinary Cubans have been shut out. Many of the revolutionary faithful
are believed to be exceedingly dissatisfied with the resulting inequalities.

"Raúl is aware of the political risks of creating more private economic
space, and we would expect political repression to continue as he tried to
consolidate his own control once his brother dies. Yet, as the world saw
after the collapse of communism in Europe, freedom movements are hard to
contain once unleashed. Ask Mikhail Gorbachev. Raúl could well attempt to
imitate the Chinese model of opening up to foreign investment and private
Cuban business while trying to keep strict political control.

"If Raúl wants to go in that direction he may also make some conciliatory
gestures to the U.S., shelving his brother's anti-American rhetoric and
offering cooperation on bilateral issues. The U.S. will have to be ready to
respond, and in ways that use American influence to leverage more freedom.
One helpful step to take now would be to repeal the 1996 Helms-Burton Act,
which stipulates that a U.S. President may not lift the trade embargo as
long as Fidel, Raúl or anyone they have appointed are in power. This denies
the President important discretion and reduces the possibility that the U.S.
could promote peaceful change through economic engagement with a post-Fidel

"Whether it comes sooner or later, Fidel Castro's death will be a moment of
hope for the liberation of an island that was once a jewel of the Americas.
If Raúl wants to go there, the U.S. ought to help show him the way."

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