25 / February
25 / February
Meet the New Castro, Same as the Old Castro

When Gorbachev lost his grip on the Soviet Union, it reflected the zeitgeist. In Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Romania, and elsewhere, the people rejected Communism. Fidel Castro has handed over power to his brother, not to the people of Cuba. In Nicaragua, retread Daniel Ortega is again the president. In Venezuala, Hugo Chavez has reinstituted socialism. In Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the founder of the nation's Worker's Party, is the head of state. In other words, Castro hands power to his brother when Latin America is heading towards, not away from, his ideology. As America fights to institute democracy half-way round the world, the dictators in our own neighborhood have multiplied. Castro's departure should have been a moment of celebration. It is, but for the wrong people. Cuba is still a Communist dictatorship, and its official state religion has been exported to various nearby states.

posted at 12:57 AM

Fidel Castro is notable for rendering public life (and much else that merits privileges and immunities) an artifact of state policy; of erecting a command economy; and of imprisoning the population and turning his country into a cat's paw of an extra-regional foreign power. Whatever the problematic aspects of their economic policies, the governments of Messrs. Ortega, Chavez, Correa, Morales, Vasquez, and da Silva, (and Mme. Kirchner as well) did none of these things. These governments were all elected and do not reflect an undifferentiated political tendency. The sort of neo-Peronism manifested by Chavez, Correa, Morales, and the Kirchners is more liberal-democratic in its methods than was during its previous blooms (ca. 1971 and ca. 1952). Chavez has done considerable damage to what had been a fairly liberal-democratic political order and Dr. Correa and Mr. Morales have manifested disquieting tendencies in this regard. However, Da Silva, Vasquez, and the Kirchners are not at war with their country's political institutions. As for Ortega, he faces a legislature dominated by the opposition; post-communist governments have come and gone without incident in a number of East European countries; the Sandinista regime offered more concessions to formal and substantive pluralism that just about any other Communist regime extant prior to 1989.

One can critique the trouble caused by these governments without attributing to them Castro's abuses, of which they are largely innocent.

Posted by: Art Deco on February 24, 2008 11:38 PM

"Meet the New Castro, Same as the Old Castro" - Yes, after all, Raoul was a communist before Fidel was. And he was instrumental in pushing Castro's revoultion leftward at the beginning. Don't expect any changes while Raoul lives.

Posted by: TheRealSwede on February 25, 2008 12:33 PM
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