Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Castro but same old, same old

Wednesday, December 27, 2006
New Castro but same old, same old
By Journal Pioneer

The Western Hemisphere's last Communist dictatorship doesn't appear
ready to transform itself into a functioning democracy any time soon.

Fidel Castro, 80, may be rotting away from some undisclosed illness, but
his brother Raul Castro, at 75, has served notice he plans to maintain a
stranglehold on Cuba's future by taking the reins of power from Fidel's
palsied hands.

It will be almost as if a dying crime lord were to pass on the family's
"business" to a trusted brother or son.

Western observers have taken some cheer from a blistering speech Raul
gave to his country's National Assembly last week, in which he declared
he wasn't happy with the way things were going.

They seized on Raul's determination to address the country's crumbling
transportation infrastructure, shoddy housing and shrinking food supplies.

But, in truth, Raul has shown little desire to remove the shackles from
a decaying economy and government.

He may tinker around the edges, but the system itself will not be

One of the few things saving Cuba from joining its sponsor, the former
Soviet Union, in the dustbin of history is the lifeline provided by a
flood of tourists drawn by the country's pristine beaches and relatively
cheap prices.

Cuba's doddering leadership can always bank on an abundant supply of
tourists and their money.

Raul made no mention of allowing multiparty elections or releasing
prisoners of conscience or reforming a command-driven economy that has
consigned millions to grinding poverty.

But that doesn't matter to Cuba's supporters, as long as he gives lip
service to the country's determination to fight American imperialism.

Cuba, despite free medical care, post-secondary education and other
social programs is still little more than an island of repression — one
in which ordinary people can be hauled off the streets and jailed for
committing the "crime" of taking pen to paper and criticizing the regime.

Cuba – darling of dotty left wing academics, trade unionists and budget
travelers — is strapped to the same sickbed as its aging leaders.

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