Foreign Policy

Life After/Apres Castro (Veiled Subscription Pitch)

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The writing's on the wall–the bathroom wall–for the most beloved and long-lived dictator in the Western hemisphere:

Scrawled in Spanish on the bathroom wall at Miami's most famous Cuban eatery, Versailles, are several unflattering and unquotable descriptions of Fidel Castro.

Beneath the defamatory remarks about the communist leader who has ruled Cuba for 48 years reads simply "Castro es muerte" (Castro is dead)—a bit of wishful thinking shared by many in this city's exile community.

Unfortunately, the U.S. seems not to be particularly interested in proactively influencing whatever comes next.

House Foreign Affairs Committee member Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, introduced a bill last week that would lift the restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba.

"Far from hastening democratic reforms, our current policy has given Fidel Castro a convenient scapegoat for his own regime's failures," said Mr. Flake, an avid critic of U.S. policy on Cuba.

"With the Cuban government taking new shape [under Raul Castro], we shouldn't give the new leader the same excuses we've given the old one."

The initiative is not being well-received by Cuban-American political leaders, who see it as an unwelcome concession to Mr. Castro and his brother.

More, from a Washington Times account, here.

For a great account of how "Castro got his job through The New York Times," check out the March issue of Reason, on newsstands now. Contributing Editor Glenn Garvin ponders the role of Herbert L. Matthews, the Timesman "who invented Fidel," according to a recent bio. Garvin explores the origins and longevity of the Castro mythos, with a great eye for how the mainstream media–not just the Times but magazines such as Life and the broadcast networks too–pumped up Castro.

Needless to say, if you subscribed to Reason for less than $20 a year, you'd already be reading our cover story.

More Reason on Cuba here.

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  1. Unfortunately, the U.S. seems not to be particularly interested in proactively influencing whatever comes next.

    If they were, they wouldn’t be telling us, Nick.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Northwoods

  2. The worst thing Washington could do is try to influence what happens next. Far better to just lift the barriers and let what happens happen.

  3. Actually, “Castro es muerte” means “Castro is death”. “Castro is dead” would be “Castro es muerto”.

  4. Great story BTW.

    I agree sanctions are an easy scapegoat.

  5. I enjoyed the Castro pieces in this month’s issue. Perhaps a more detailed analysis would have mentioned the role of Batista’s brutal regime played in creating Castro. But that wasn’t really the focus, and the piece nicely framed the naive idealism of Herbert Matthews and the Times. How rare that one can assail the Times and discredit the embargo in one single article.

  6. Flake went after Sec. Rice when she testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday, over some propaganda sponsored by the State Department that had as its theme, “Ha ha, you don’t have enough food!”

  7. Actually, “Castro es muerte” means “Castro is death”. “Castro is dead” would be “Castro es muerto”.

    Actually, “Castro is dead” would be “Castro esta muerto.” But you are write about “Castro es muerte.”

  8. OK. I did it. I finally subscribed. The not-so-veiled subscription pitch worked.

  9. Castro is Death has a better ring to it anyway even if it doesn’t work as nicely in Nick’s story.

  10. …for a great account of how “Castro got his job through The New York Times…/

    I’m old enough to remember when conservatives made claims like this and were laughed out of town as hopeless reactionaries. Neanderthals if you will.

    Haven’t had a chance to read the article yet, but thanks for the push in that direction.

  11. Actually, “Castro es muerte” means “Castro is death”. “Castro is dead” would be “Castro es muerto”.

    Which suggests that the comment was not written by an adept Spanish speaker.

    But why would someone who did not know Spanish very well write graffitti in Spanish?

    Whomever-it-was should have written the grafitti in their native language so that the message would be clearer.

  12. I don’t follow him closely, but Flake does seem to an above-average politician, which, I know, may sound like damning with faint praise.

  13. Dave W. | February 8, 2007, 10:04am | #

    Actually, what about the possibility that the writer meant to write “Castro is death”. The sentence does make sense and is quite rich in imagery.

    Miami is full of competent Spanish speakers and writers, so that is a reasonable possibility,….oh wait I forgot who I was answering, never mind.

  14. I also wouldn’t accuse Miami street thugs of speaking the Castilian Spanish of the Real Academia.

  15. Was the NYT widely read among the Cuban rebels?

  16. Have you all considered that perhaps this pre-Castro health concerncs grafitti, and the writer intended it to say “Castro is Death”? Perhaps, the person who wrote the article is the one who got it wrong.

    Nick

  17. Isaace beat me to it.

    Nick

  18. yes. some of them enjoyed the crossword puzzle, and some liked to kick back with sunday sports.

    “But why would someone who did not know Spanish very well write graffitti in Spanish?”

    same reason people who no write-a good eeengleeesh tag stuff? (illiteracy + tiny penises + a lack of maternal affection as a child = I R GUD)

  19. Actually, what about the possibility that the writer meant to write “Castro is death”. The sentence does make sense and is quite rich in imagery.

    I saw that another poster raised that interpretation even b4 I tried to pin this on the CIA.

    I rejected the possibility for two reasons:

    1. Life expectancy has gone up significantly under Castro.

    and

    2. Castro tends not to kill political prisoners (unlike some despots).

    For this reason “CASTRO IS DEATH” is a slogan that doesn’t work well. there are plenty of bad things to say about Castro (for one he is a statist and for two he holds political prisoners), but he does not deal in death nearly as much as one would expect. That is why I think it is a black ops mess up, and that they meant to say “Castro Is dead.” Like the Nick Berg video.

    It would be cool to review the Washington Times primary source materials to see where the misinterpretation got started.

  20. not that the Nick berg video was meant to call for the death of castro, but just that that was a black ops mess up that does not withstand casual scrutiny.

  21. A lot of former Cubans in Florida are under the impression that, upon Castro’s death, they will immediately return to a hero’s welcome in Cuba and be begged to take over and make Cuba the paradise it was under Batista. Unfortunately, the US government shares the delusion that the Cuban people secretly love America and all that’s needed is to get rid of this ONE GUY that’s holding up good relations.

    I’m betting it won’t be that easy. The only reason Castro is holding up better relations is because the US won’t improve relations while Castro is alive. This bizarre practice of replacing foreign policy with a petty, personal vendetta has mysteriously become a dominant theme in American government.

    Immigrants should look forward and not back, in my opinion. The Cuban-Americans have done enormous damage to both countries and I’ll bet the Cubans are more perceptive about their role than Americans are.

  22. “The Cuban-Americans have done enormous damage to both countries and I’ll bet the Cubans are more perceptive about their role than Americans are.”

    Let’s not forget that many of the Miami Cubans are (1) former backers of Batista (family-wise) and (2) criminals and insane people. They aren’t going back to Cuba.

  23. Hey, my copy hasn’t arrived yet.

  24. At least Fidel keeps cockfighting alive. Universal health care, 100% literacy and a Democrat in charge just like New Mexico!

  25. Was the NYT widely read among the Cuban rebels?

    No, but neither was Karl Marx.

    The Cuban Revolution was not a Socialist or Marxist Revolution. Castro claimed to support a Jeffersonian Republic. Cuba didn’t become Communist until it looked like the U.S. was going to ice Castro, and he needed Soviet power to protect him.

  26. The Cuban Revolution was not a Socialist or Marxist Revolution. Castro claimed to support a Jeffersonian Republic. Cuba didn’t become Communist until it looked like the U.S. was going to ice Castro, and he needed Soviet power to protect him.

    ROFLMAO!

  27. “ROFLMAO!”

    Don’t you mean, (Q)UIETLY (S)mirking (W)hile (A)t (O)ffice ?

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