Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Does Castro Like it This Way?

It's not often you seem someone in print moving away from the predictable storylines about Cuba. [eds. note - Gee, this is turning into an all-Cuba blog. Need to hit some other topics.] Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post makes a suggestion you don't often see in print:

It finally dawned on me that Fidel Castro likes Cuba the way it is, a glorious shambles with myriad inefficiencies and problems...I think he likes a system in which everyone has a roof, though it's leaky, and surgeons live next to bricklayers in crumbling tenements.
This is Fidel as an idealistic socialist - better to be poor together than to have the rich lording it over everyone else. It's an interesting idea. I'm used to thinking of Fidel first and foremost as a self-described nationalist, someone willing to sacrifice economic prosperity in order to defy the United States. Robinson seems to support the idea that Castro did not pursue the Chinese model, economic reform coupled with continued authoritarianism, because he was "appalled by what he saw in modern China -- a growing gap between rich and poor.” I tend to believe that has something to with it. I also think that Fidel realizes that a Cuba with free market reforms is a Cuba potentially flooded with U.S. dollars, U.S. investors, U.S. tourists, and U.S. values. I say "potentially" because I'm not sure we'd be smart enough to drop the embargo. In such a Cuba, Fidel would be increasingly irrelevant, and he knows it. If only the people who set our Cuba policy could figure that out.

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