Cuba about lose longest serving leader?

El Blogador asks: is Fidel Castro dead? After 47 years at the helm as the world’s longest serving, he has handed over control of the Cuban state to his brother Raul the country’s Defence Minister. His demise has been subject to frenzied public speculation over the last four to five years as his health has visibly deteriorated. According to the New Yorker, last year the CIA reported he was suffering from Parkinson’s.It is understood that he has also been obsessed with the idea that socialism Cuban-style will not survive his death. At 75, Raul is hardly well placed to keep the political home fires burning either. Castro’s last effort has been what he termed the Battle of Ideas, an effort to connect the ideals of the revolution with those of younger Cubans who came of age in the wake of the collapse of Communist eastern Europe.

The island has faced a series of crises, which Castro has often overcome through sheer force of his larger than life personality. Not even the US has a prefered leader to take over when he finally does go officially. Although it does plan to help with the ‘transition’.

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  • Pete Baker

    Interesting to see the old dictator following the [recent] tradition of North Korean communism nepotism.

    But I’d suggest you could have cut at least one of those lines down a litle, Mick ;o)

    As in –

    “The island has faced a series of crises, which Castro has often overcome through sheer force”.

  • Keith M

    It’ve been to Cuba and it’s a truely lovely place, one can hope that as soon as Castro is gone, the island can emerge from the dark ages of socialism and join the modern world.

  • Garibaldy

    Mick,

    I doubt Fidel is dead. I think the era when people might try and hide that sort of thing is gone, despite the fantasies of the Cuban exiles and others.

    Clearly Cuba faces some transition after Fidel goes, but I have to say that your analysis is a bit simplistic. The reason that Cuba survived when other socialist states fell was that the people there, in my experience anyway, feel a sense of ownership and involvement in the revolution that had disappeared from the Soviet bloc. The revolutionary generation is still there – let’s not forget that as well as being Fidel’s brother Raul was the commander of one of the revolutionary armies that ousted the dictatorship – and there are a large number of people who appreciate that socialism has given them a better life than many of their counterparts in Latin America.

    Cuba is by no means perfect. But it is not the stereotypical oppressive dictatorship beloved of much propaganda, especially our friends in Miami.
    My feeling is that socialism will last beyond Fidel’s death, though others I know who have been there recently disagree.

  • Dualta

    Socialism with violence is merely capitalism by other means. Such societies will always revert to capitalism.

  • Socialism with violence is merely capitalism by other means I know what you are saying but it is more corruption then capitalism.

    Cuba is an interesting case. it manages to have a repressive regime that actually cares for the people as long as the people agree with the regime if you know what I mean.

  • Keith M

    simon “Cuba is an interesting case. it manages to have a repressive regime that actually cares for the people as long as the people agree with the regime if you know what I mean.”

    And anyone who doesn’t can get on the next raft to Florida and freedom. It really is the political take on “sink or swim”.

  • Moochin photoman

    Any room on that raft for the Soukris?

  • Garibaldy

    When I was in Cuba, people openly told us they opposed the government, despite the presence of an official translator. Hardly a terrorised population. Cuba is not perfect. For example, those who disagree with the government or dissident trade unionists might be gaoled. On the other hand, in say Colombia – which is a better point for comparison than western Europe or the US – such people are liable to disappear, or be openly murdered. Not that that seems to bother certain people on here.

    I won’t go into all the arguments about heathcare, education, life expectancy etc. But I will say that the Cuban government enjoys a great deal of popular support, and that is why I think there’s a more than even chance than socialism will continue once Fidel has died.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Fidel had a fair degree of popular support which young Raul doesn’t have. He seems to be heartily disliked by all sections of Cuban society.

    It’s going to be interesting – there’s all kinds of talk of exiles trying to claim property back that they lost/walked out on after the revolution, even that multinationals have bought their deeds from them in the hope that all post-revolution bets are off.

    And will the US support these claims? (and then try to tell Palestinian refugees that they have no rights to their old property in Israel)

  • Harry Flashman

    “I’ve been to Cuba and it’s a truly lovely place”

    Keith M

    Bzzzzzzzzzzzzt, Incorrect, Cuba COULD be a truly lovely place if it wasn’t run by a Stalinist dinosaur

    As it is Cuba is a piss stinking shitehole whose very infrastructure is at a point of terminal collapse and whose much vaunted Potempkin health care and education system has turned a nation that once had the highest standard of living in the Caribbean into a cess pool and open air brothel for “Progressives” and left wing sex tourists.

    Try the Bahamas just across the creek. I know, I know it doesn’t have the whiff of cordite and radical chic of Cuba, it muddles along with a free press, parliamentary democracy, free trade, human rights, the rule of law; all that oul’ rubbish, but curiously the people seem content, healthy, well-educated, prosperous and free, yawn how boring they are.

    Get over it boys, “La Revolucvion” has been an unmitigated disaster for the poor, unfortunate inhabitants of Cuba.

    Viva Cuba Lire!

  • Nestor Makhno

    The Bahamas are hardly an apt comparator. Perhaps try Haiti which is 50 miles off the Cuban coast? Similar sized populations. Both lived under European and then, much more recently, US colonial rule.

    Both were former slave plantation islands and both have a majority population descended from such slaves. Half the population in Haiti is illiterate, 80% are in poverty, 5% are dying of AIDS and life expectancy is in the grim low 50s. I’ll not quote the Cuban stats – as they would embarrass both the US and UK’s.

    I visited Cuba about seven years ago and spent quite a while in and around Havana. The over-riding sense I got from most Cubans I met (and I didn’t need an official translator) is that the majority black population fear that following the collapse of Castro’s regime they will end up at the bottom of the heap. (Hardly surprising when they look to the US as an example of how things are likely to go.)

    Yes, most Cubans want democracy – but they’re like people anywhere. They fear uncertainty, the loss of their jobs, their homes and their standing in society. Once Fidel’s state is gone all this is up for grabs. And (given its record in Latin America and its poor relationship with its own black citizens) would you want a US administration making decisions on your family’s future?

  • Harry Flashman

    Nestor

    Last time I checked Bahamas also had a majority black population (much higher than Cuba’s) which were brought over as slaves by European colonial powers. The blacks in Bahamas have political and economic freedom, have an unarmed police force and seem to be doing perfectly well without socialist totalitarianism, I wonder why. It couldn’t have anything to do with their Westminster style democracy and the fact that their head of state is *gasp* Queen Elizabeth II could it?

    I’m afraid you’ll have to do better than that to justify the need for a gulag society.

    You’re right not to quote Cuba’s AIDS statistics, don’t quote China’s statistics either. I well remember being assured that AIDS was a disease of the decadent west and didn’t exist in the workers’ paradise of the Soviet Union where just like Cuba we were told of the magnificent health service and education system. Well, the Wall came down and we learnt what a total load of shite that was. When Castro goes and the light of truth is shone under the slimey rocks of his society alot of western liberals are going to be looking very stupid indeed – not for the first time either.

  • Garibaldy

    Harry F,

    There was a report on the Cuban health service on Newsnight last night you might be able to get on the BBC’s website. You might find it interesting. You seem to be the only person in the planet who doesn’t accept that Cuba has a world-class health service. Interesting stuff too on the training of doctors from other countries, including the US.

    As for the gulag society, that’s just clearly not true, as anyone who’s been there can attest. Why don’t you look at the US. What is it, 1 or 2% of the population in gaol, overwhelmingly from minority groups, and that dispropoertion goes higher as you reach the death penalty. People locked in chains, forced to dig on roads etc. Look at how a society treats its prisoners to see how civilised it is. What does that say?

  • Harry Flashman

    Garibaldy

    Jeez a favourable report on Cuba on the BBC, and on Newsnight no less? Whodathunkit? I mean such an unimpeachable non-biased source too! I imagine the BBC were free to wander around all the hospitals of Cuba with no minders and Castro goons and everyone was free to express their opinions openly, I mean Cuba is famous for it’s free society isn’t it?

    I seem to recall hearing the same oul’ cobblers about the magnificent health system in the Soviet Bloc, it was bollocks then it’s bollocks now.

    Fine, let’s say Castro’s Cuba is so marvellous answer me this why are hundreds of thousands of Cubans getting on the inner tubes of truck tyres and climbing into the sea to nasty Uncle Sam to escape such a wonderful workers’ paradise? Dya think it might be for the same reasons people risked being shot crossing from the socialist paradise of East Germany into the West? How did East Germany’s much vaunted health and social systems work out? Remind me.

    Secondly, Ol’ Fidel is such a “Father of the Nation” as the Irish Times slavishly referred to him today. So here’s a modest proposal, have an election!

    You know one with multi-party ballot papers, free press, fair elections that kind of thing. You are I am sure familiar with free elections, they’re quite common around here. Actually they have them frequently in Latin America too. So why not? Are the Cubans somehow inferior to the rest of us that they don’t deserve free and fair elections?

    Everyone assures me of the undying love of the Cuban people for Castro, fine prove it! Have an election, what’s wrong Fidel mi amigo, you wouldn’t be afraid of a free and fair election now would you? Surley not you el commandante?

  • Garibaldy

    Harry,

    People mostly leave Cuba in search of better economic opportunity. As for wandering around Cuba with no minders – why don’t you go there and do it for yourself. It’s very simple. Just get your visa and jump on a plane.

  • Animus

    Elections are common here, but leadership is in short supply at.

    Life expectancy stats for people born in 2004:

    Cuba: 78

    USA: 78

    GB: 79

    Ireland: 78

    Haiti: 52

    Bahamas: 70

    So Cuba’s not that bad Harry, at least statistically. Or is Unicef an instrument of lies as well? People leave Britain every year too, how many people leave NI every year? I wouldn’t argue that Cuba is paradise, but I doubt it’s the hellish place you have worked yourself up to believe.

  • Animus

    Elections are common here, but leadership is in short supply at THE MOMENT. Cuba may be governed by a dictator, but at least’s he local and gets things done. We’re not in a position of strength on that score.

  • Pete Baker

    Animus

    I can see the next election campaign slogan already..

    “He may be a dictator.. but he’s your dictator!”

    ;o)

  • Greenflag

    Question:

    ‘Are there any historical precedents for the Cuban system of elections?’

    Answer:

    ‘Yes, in the story of the creation God made Eve ,put her in the Garden of Eden , and said to Adam :

    ‘Now choose a woman ‘.

  • DK

    Yes Cuba is one of those countries that is doing rather well under what appears to be actually a monarchy. Better to compare with Brunei? Or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Big life expectancies there too, but woe to those who step out of line.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Very disturbing all this. I may have to change my nom de plume to something more appropriate. How about ‘Gerry Lvs Stalinist Democracy’?

  • Garibaldy

    But does Stalinist Democracy love Gerry? I think not

  • Harry Flashman

    Yes people leave Britain every year – but they don’t have to climb on to an inner tube and swim across the English Channel now do they? No because in Britain they are free – Christ what a fatuous argument!

    Garibaldy I was in Cuba, I went there when I was living in the Bahamas. I’d swallowed all the gush and bullshite put forward by the BBC and the travel books and thought I’d be going to a great place. Boy was I disappointed, it was a “piss stinking shitehole” (cf above). Maybe the next time you go you should leave the rose tinted spectacles behind. Some of the streets were open sewers, the facilities were abysmal, the food was crap, everything about the place was awful and everywhere you looked there were Canadian and European sex tourists pawing teenage girls who had to whore themselves for a few miserable dollars, all due to the hopelessness of the appalling government – gee whizz a communist government that’s crap at everything except locking up its opponents now why am I not surprised? I couldn’t wait to get out of the place.

    Before I left the Bahamas I had thought they were quaintly behind the times, fuck me was I glad to get back! Cuba made the Bahamas look like Singapore, face it folks your pet Marxist thug has been a disaster, stop supporting every arsehole from Kim Jung Il to Robert Mugabe just because they stick two fingers at the Yanks, it’s infantile.

  • bob

    HF

    you remark on how the head of state for the bahamas is queen lizzie herself. You have not helped your arguement here as u have just stated a big difference between cuba and the bahamas. Where britian held sway things are not bad well done, however the US did not treat cuba ass kindle.

  • bob

    that was meant to say kindly at the end

  • Rory

    You will all now be pleased to know, as are the people of Cuba, that Comrade President Fidel is recovering well from his recent surgery and enjoying his 80th birthday.

    Many Happy Returns, Fidel!

  • Dk

    “You will all now be pleased to know, as are the people of Cuba, that Comrade President Fidel is recovering well from his recent surgery and enjoying his 80th birthday”

    Does that include the ones jumping into the sea with tyres around their waists? Or the dissidents currently in jail.

    Just because you don’t like the US regime doesn’t make Cuba any better and Fidel less of a despot.

  • lib2016

    Castro got rid of the mafia but the usual suspects i.e. our unionist posters, seem to want a return of the old order. Are they perhaps looking for employment for their UDA friends before the FRU liquidate ALL their assets ?

    Just askin’,like. 😉

  • Garibaldy

    DK,

    How are the dissidents in other parts of Latin America getting on? Say the dissident trade unionists in Colombia? Have they found their bodies in the jungle yet?

  • GPJ

    Well said Garibaldy

    Compare the Cuban democratic centerism with the “democracies” sponsered by the USA in South America and the Carribean and there is a massive human rights deficet, in favour of Cuba.

    If right wing posters have problems with the Cuban system, they should take their biased analytical skills and examine the miliary dictatorships, sponsered by big business and the USA, through out the region, not really good examples of democracy at work?

  • Rory

    Re: Happy Birthday, Fidel.

    Does that include the ones jumping into the sea with tyres around their waists? Or the dissidents currently in jail.

    Good Lord no, DK, I am sure they are all too busy yearning for the return to the good old days of Batista when gangsterism and capitalism walked happily hand-in-hand across that lovely island and ensured that slavery and starvation thrived (along with profits) on the haciendas and that American business tourists could satisfy their depraved sexual appetites with two undernourished children for the price of a hamburger.

    Of course they are not alone in this yearning, are they? The US government and its UK satellite are both heavily embarrassed that a small nation impoverished by brutal trade restrictions and virtually under seige since its inception yet manages to provide for all its citizens a health service and education system second to none while the poor of these two great wealthy capitalist powers increasingly erode access by their own poor to good medical treatment and education. But then that helps keep down taxes for the rich and that can only be a good thing can’t it? The ‘trickle-down effect’ they call it. Named after the tears trickling down the faces of the underpriveleged no doubt and the champagne trickling down the throats of the indigent playboys of the richas they celebrate their freedoms from the necessity to work and from the burden of socially just taxation.

  • TAFKABO

    GPJ.

    What do you say to us left wing posters who have difficulties with Cuba’s current system?