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After Fidel.

Last October, when Fidel Castro took a nasty fall, breaking multiple bones, there was renewed speculation among Cuba-watchers about the dictator's health. As former cigar-lover Fidel Castro pushes 80 years of age, one wonders how much longer he can physically maintain his grip on Cuba. One thing is certain: Castro is a survivor, outlasting many expert forecasts of his demise. However, as far as we know, he remains just a man. With each passing year, Castro's end becomes more certain.

William Ratliff, writing in The Hoover Digest, speculates about a post-Castro Cuba:

"Fidel Castro will leave Cuba in a terrible political and economic mess, just as Mao Zedong left China when he died in 1976, and Castro’s successors will be sorely taxed just to retain power."


Ratliff continues:

"One might ask why reforms have not been launched already. The answer is that, although Fidel has visited China, he is far closer in his ideas and policies to Mao Zedong than to any Soviet leader, never mind any post-Mao Chinese leader. Castro’s alliance with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and his often very strong criticism of China, was based almost entirely on his need for Soviet-bloc money, arms, and a nuclear shield during his conflict with the United States.

Like Mao, Fidel cannot abandon his old ideas at the end of his life without admitting that his career was a terrible mistake. So just as Mao held on to his egalitarian socialism until the very end, Fidel remains steadfast and allows private initiative only periodically, when the economy is in a particularly disastrous condition."


WILLisms.com looks forward to the day when Cuba and the United States, two free market societies, can mutually benefit. As freedom spreads around the globe, hope for a new Cuba after Castro is palpable. The Cuban people, deserve a free and open society; Cuba deserves to be the jewel of the Caribbean, the leader of the islands of Latin America.

As evidenced by the passing of Palestinian terrorist Yasser Arafat late last year, the death of a dictator presents real and important opportunities for progress, even in otherwise stagnant political waters.


President Bush noted in his State of the Union address,

"The beginnings of reform and democracy in the Palestinian territories are now showing the power of freedom to break old patterns of violence and failure. Tomorrow morning, Secretary of State Rice departs on a trip that will take her to Israel and the West Bank for meetings with Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas. She will discuss with them how we and our friends can help the Palestinian people end terror and build the institutions of a peaceful, independent, democratic state. To promote this democracy, I will ask Congress for $350 million to support Palestinian political, economic, and security reforms. The goal of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace, is within reach -- and America will help them achieve that goal."

Indeed, Arafat's death has given the United States a distinct opportunity to start working on Middle East peace anew. Just today, Israeli and Palestinian leaders announced a "mutual cease-fire."

While Mr. Ratliff is skeptical about the likelihood of instant democracy in Cuba, he does note that,

"...under George W. Bush, the executive branch is promoting a more integrated and proactive involvement in the hope of speeding up and molding changes in the country. If current U.S. efforts to strengthen Cuban civil society succeed, perhaps at least in the post-Fidel period the current “silent majority” of Cubans, who up to now have been united only in their determination not to rock the political boat, will be able to advance the cause of democracy and free markets."

The speed with which the President is moving to support Palestinian civil society, post-Arafat, and transform the Middle East, is encouraging for a post-Castro Cuba.

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 February 2005 12:39 PM

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