You Won't Have Fidel to Kick Around Any More

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Is El Presidente looking at retirement?

"My basic duty is not to cling to office, and even less to obstruct the path of younger people, but to pass on the experiences and ideas whose modest worth stems from the exceptional era in which I have lived," Mr Castro's letter said.

The message was delivered during Cuba's main nightly current affairs programme, Mesa Redonda.

BBC Americas editor Emilio San Pedro says the letter appears to be a calculated attempt to prepare Cuba's 11 million people for a Cuba without the emblematic revolutionary leader in charge.

Independent Cuban journalist Miriam Leiva, whose husband is a former political prisoner, said she believed the announcement might be a turning point for Cuba.

"The situation in Cuba is so tense, economically and socially. This gives the hope that our society can start moving again," she said.

As the BBC report points out, the image of Cuba's power structure as a decrepit Fidel-Raul consulship isn't quite true, and there are relatively young thugs who could take power from Castro. (I wonder if the election-swinging GOP vote in Florida would be quite as hot to turn out if Castro resigned before November 2008.)

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  1. "My basic duty is not to cling to office....

    HA HA HA HA ROFLMAO
    Does it get any better after that? I'm still wiping away the tears.

  2. No, his basic duty is to cling to power. There's a difference.

    Here's the question, though. If Fidel croaks, will the people rise up even though there may be young thugs ready to take over? Sometimes a despot's personality has such an inordinate amount of power that their demise causes revolution sheerly from the lack of their presence.

  3. If it comes to violence, I suspect there would be far more Cubans siding with the government than against it. Espeically if that "uprising" can be traced to Yanqui backing.

    The best hope for post-Castro Cuba is reform on a political track. George HW Bush was wise back in the early 1990s when he worked to turn the heat down, rather than up, on the Soviet Union as it imploded.

  4. joe, I agree that our embargo is stupid and lifting it would help. But remember when the Berlin wall fell--once it started, it exploded. Fidel's death might be such a trigger.

    In fact, I think he's doing this transfer of power stuff specifically to head that off.

  5. There were no violent anti-government uprisings in Germany at the end of the Cold War. There was consensual, democratically-driven political reform.

  6. I think we might be talking past each other, Ep.

    I'm talking about which kind of "explosion."

  7. Yeah, we are. I meant explosion in the sense that as soon as a few people started destroying that wall, suddenly everyone was. Not in the sense of violence.

  8. Maybe not in Germany, but elsewhere....

  9. Juan,

    You mean like in Romania?

    Romania was a particularly vile, violent dictatorship, and Ceaucesceau a particularly odious tyrant.

    Not to let the boring, grey men in East Germany off the hook, but they simply did not rise to the same level, and that probably explains the different paths they took to liberation.

  10. Cuba's post-Castro period is going to be interesting--I doubt it's easy predictable. Unless you've developed psychohistory like Dr. Viking Moose has.

    What'll be the key in Cuba is whether or not exiles flood back in if the boot is lifted post-Castro.

  11. "My basic duty is not to cling to office..."

    Warren, I'm still laughing as well. This is priceless tragedy/comedy.
    The old fart is laying in his death bed, after 40+ years of dictatorship and NOW he is willing to let others participate.

    Better than SNL.

  12. If Fidel croaks, will the people rise up even though there may be young thugs ready to take over?

    I doubt it. They'd be fools to risk losing the free health care that Michael Moore is always trumpeting about.

  13. Ho ho ho, look at those little people, worried about their economic concerns!

  14. If the boot is lifted post-Castro, I?d predict that many Cubans will go back to Cuba.
    Exiled Cubans still love their country and want nothing more than to go back to live in a free Cuba.

  15. *suspiciously guards Magic 8 Ball*

  16. Joe, Im not sure if your last post was sarcasm but as they say in Spanish "me rio por no llorar".

  17. If Fidel croaks

    Right. Old Stalinists never die, their speeches just get shorter and shorter...

  18. Better than SNL.

    That's...not... setting the bar too high!

  19. You Won't Have Fidel to Kick Around Any More

    When I read this I thought, "OH boy! Breaking news! Castro's dead! Drink!" I am now sorely disappointed and a little pissed.

  20. I read "Fidel talks about stepping down", I interpret it as "the Communist Party of Cuba is getting sick of wheeling out Schrodinger's Dictator out like some sort of Weekend At Bernie's-style prop and decided to put him back into mothballs for good."

    All a matter of semantics, I guess 🙂

  21. VM tells me that he is manipulating events so that his people will be exiled to Cuba, to form some sort of foundation.

  22. "What'll be the key in Cuba is whether or not exiles flood back in if the boot is lifted post-Castro."

    Not many will go back. Despite all their blah blah blah, they've done well in America, and can't reclaim their oligarchic status in the homeland. That said, because of our embargo, the Canadians and the Dutch have a 10 year head start in the real estate and resort business.

  23. There were no violent anti-government uprisings in Germany at the end of the Cold War. There was consensual, democratically-driven political reform.

    Romania.

  24. I already brought up Romania.

    The question is, is Cuba more like Romania 1989, or like East Germany 1989?

  25. Given the decade long revolt of farmers in the Highlands and the brutal measures Castro used to put it down (concentration camps, reprisals etcc) I think Cuba is closer to Romania than East Germany.

  26. is Cuba more like Romania 1989, or like East Germany 1989?

    I think the East Germany model is rare. My money's on Romania.

  27. tarran,

    In 1989, did you think that East Germany was noticeably more free and less oppressive than Cuba?

    Is it possible that maybe you're reading your own political preferences into the reality of Cuban politics?

  28. I'd heard a story that may be apocryphal. When the GDR politburo ousted Erich Honecker, they did so by taking a vote. Like a good Communist, Honecker voted with the majority to make it unanimous.

  29. In the Gulag Archipelago, the author spends quite a bit of time discussing the phenomenon of devout Communists making false confessions of counter-revolutionary activity out of loyalty to the state. Which makes that story seem pretty plausible to me, BakedPenguin.

  30. I already brought up Romania.

    The question is, is Cuba more like Romania 1989, or like East Germany 1989?

    Yeah, I saw the Romania thingee after I posted. I know, I know. read the whole thread before responding, dumbshit.

    I doubt Cuba compares well to either. I suspect it will be the same story with different players.

  31. I think the East Germany model is rare.

    Basically a one-off, because East Germany didn't have to reinvent a new society from basically from scratch because they got to join a perfectly functional (well, by Euro standards) West Germany.

    Its the figuring what to do once the old regime is gone that gets messy.

  32. THE VIOLENCE OF REGIME CHANGE IN POST-COMMUNISTIC TOTALITARIAN REGIMES DIRECTLY CORRELATES TO THE HOTNESS OF THE COUNTRY'S WOMEN. ROMANIA? WAY HOT! EAST GERMANY? LESS HOT. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS TO THIS RULE.

  33. RC,

    OK, but the Poles and the Czechs followed the East German model, too.

  34. URKOBOLD? - then I fear, greatly, for the people of Cuba. 'Cause those girls are teh hot.

  35. "Exiled Cubans still love their country and want nothing more than to go back to live in a free Cuba."

    Yes, the status quo ante, say 1958, would go over really well with the Cubans who stayed in Cuba. The Miami set is going to be greeted with flowers.

  36. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS TO THIS RULE.

    OK, but the Poles and the Czechs followed the East German model, too.

    Does...not...compute...

  37. THE URKOBOLD NOTES PARENTHETICALLY THAT THE ONE THING COMMUNIST REGIMES ARE GOOD AT IS DECEPTION ABOUT THE HOTNESS OF THEIR WOMEN. LOOK AT THE MYTH THE U.S.S.R. WAS ABLE TO FOIST UPON THE WEST, THAT RUSSIAN WOMEN WERE NOT BABES OF THE HIGHEST ORDER. FORTUNATELY, THE URKOBOLD WAS AWARE OF THIS DECEPTION AND HAS BEEN BUYING RUSSIAN WOMEN FOR FRIENDS AND BUSINESS ASSOCIATES FOR CHRISTMAS FOR DECADES. AND THEY'RE TAX DEDUCTIBLE!

  38. THE URKOBOLD WAS AWARE OF THIS DECEPTION AND HAS BEEN BUYING RUSSIAN WOMEN FOR FRIENDS AND BUSINESS ASSOCIATES FOR CHRISTMAS FOR DECADES. AND THEY'RE TAX DEDUCTIBLE!

    Uh, Urkobold? -

    Where the hell is mine?

  39. Coming soon: a Free, Fair, and Open Election!

  40. I suspect it will be the same story with different players.

    Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, and finally, the one who wouldn't kill the citizens to remain in power, Gorbachev. Cuba's journey through hell might last quite some time.

  41. We've been waiting a long time for this. I'll believe it when something actually happens.

  42. Gorbachev did send army into Lithuania. Not quite 'one who wouldn't kill the citizens'...

  43. VIKING MINION! IS J SUB D ON THE CHRISTMAS LIST? GIVE HIM THAT TALL, LEGGY ONE WITH THE PHD IN ECONOMICS.

  44. Fidel will go out not with a whimper, but a fart.

  45. DIRECTLY CORRELATES TO THE HOTNESS OF THE COUNTRY'S WOMEN. ROMANIA? WAY HOT! EAST GERMANY? LESS HOT.

    Dude, you are SO wrong.

  46. VIKING MINION! IS J SUB D ON THE CHRISTMAS LIST? GIVE HIM THAT TALL, LEGGY ONE WITH THE PHD IN ECONOMICS.

    I guess I won't have to FedEx that 1987 vintage fruitcake after all.

  47. FOOL. YOU SCAN AND EMAIL SAID FROOTKAKE.

  48. PROLEFEEDING FOOL (QUESTION: DO YOU FEED PROLES, OR DO YOU FEED UPON THEM?),

    AH, YES, REACH FOR A FAMOUS, TOKEN ATTRACTIVE WOMAN TO MAKE YOUR SADLY MISTAKEN POINT ABOUT THE MILLIONS OF WOMEN IN QUESTION. TRUST THE URKOBOLD, WHO HAS MOUNTED MORE FEMALES ON A GLOBAL LEVEL THAN YOU HAVE SEEN DURING YOUR INTERNET FANTASIES LATE AT NIGHT.

    BOUNCY, AND, FURTHERMORE, BOUNCY.

  49. Even assuming Cuba opts to abandon socialism, it's going to take decades to rebuild the country into a place even remotely comparable to the standard of living most exiles have now. On top of that, I'm not sure just how welcoming the islanders will be toward the ex-pats. Even the anti-Castro crowd in Cuba might feel a bit betrayed by those who chose to abandon ship rather than fight the regime from within.

  50. I'm not sure how an open Cuba would fare, or how things might play out, but there is a great deal of wealth in the hands of Cuban expats who would love nothing better than to invest it in a free(er) Cuba. The locals may resent the people who left, but I don't think they are all that in love with their own government, either. There's a lot of potential in Cuba, both in resources and in tourism, so foreign investment will play a major role in its recovery. Its proximity to the U.S.--expats aside--is another wildcard.

  51. "Yes, the status quo ante, say 1958, would go over really well with the Cubans who stayed in Cuba. The Miami set is going to be greeted with flowers"

    Cubans who stayed in Cuba? The ones who got plucked out of the ocean before they could make it to Miami? Plenty Cubans stayed in Cuba because they COULDN'T leave, not because they had it so much better now that everyone is equally starving.

    About 10% of that country fled to the United States, another 10% to countries like Spain, Venezuela, Puerto Rico. Many left family in Cuba, dreaming of when they could bring them out.

    There's a very poignant photo of Celia Cruz when she left Cuba, looking back towards her country as she stood to board an airplane. The incredible sadness on her face speaks volumes.

  52. I wonder if Bacardi would move back to Cuba?

  53. How do I get on the Urkobold? Christmas list?

    PS: Is it the opinion of Urkobold? that Cuban senoritas are muy caliente and therefore the post Casto regime change will be violent?

    My own opinion is that they are hot, but thankfully (for the sake of peace in the Caribbean) they are not as hot as Brazilian women.

  54. OR COLUMBIAN WOMEN, OF WHICH THE URKOBOLD PARTAKES DAILY IN THE FORM OF THE WEIBSKOBOLD.

  55. Pinko,
    Well, I'm sure not all ex-pats will be received with open arms but I?m sure that those who left family behind in Cuba will, quite literally, be "greeted with flowers".
    While economic factors will influence who will go to post-Castro Cuba, the cultural element is VERY important.
    I know Latin Americans and their attachement to "la familia" and "la patria" is stronger (in general terms) than that of anglo culture.
    In fact, to my surprise, I know plenty Venezuelans who moved to the US, Spain or Canada to get away from Chavez only to return to Venezuela because they missed the culture (and all its craziness!). Go figure.
    Another thing about Latin Americans, they are hot-headed but they also forgive/forget easily. So I can imagine some islanders resenting ex-pats going back to Cuba, at first, but then, getting over it pretty quickly.

  56. PL

    Apparently the Bacardi family was well liked by the residents of the town the distillery was in. They still speak well of them there according to something I read some time ago.

    But that brings up another point. If Cuba follows the Czech model it will mean returning properties to their pre-Fidel owners.

    This does not just present a problem because it might not go over with the Cubans who stayed (especially any hardcore ones) but also because they have been sold to Canadian, Spanish and other foreign investors.

    The Germans and the Czechs did not have a huge problem with this because very little of the property had been transferred to private owners.

  57. This does not just present a problem because it might not go over with the Cubans who stayed (especially any hardcore ones) but also because they have been sold to Canadian, Spanish and other foreign investors.

    Boo - frickin' - hoo. A thief does not obtain title in what he has stolen, and someone who buys from a thief cannot claim title either.

  58. If and when fifo burro and fidelismo dies, you can bet I will be investing in my patria. I have family who live in Spain and Puerto Rico, who I know, will also invest. People don't realize that pre-fifo Cuba resembled the US quite a bit. You should all visit http://www.therealcuba.com

  59. RC, I just meant it's going to make it harder to sort out.

    While I believe that the embargo should be lifted so that Americans can trade with and visit Cuba (yes I know you can visit if you jump through a shitload of hoops), I really am disgusted with the Euros and Canadians who have bought the stolen properties there.

    I don't expect them to just give up their loot without a fight, either. There's a lot of lawyers gonna get rich[er] here.

  60. If Fidel croaks...
    If and when fifo burro and fidelismo dies...

    "If?"

  61. The Continental Army and local and state authorities seized thousands of homes and farms from loyalists, and usually sold them off or handed them off to supporters of the revolution. Those properties have now changed hands several times. That's what happens when there's a revolution.

    Anyone here think RC Dean considers those properties' owners to have bad titles?

  62. "That's what happens when there's a revolution."

    There is one big difference. The US revolution did not fail. The Cuban Revolution, assuming the prediction of the socialist governments failure once Fido dies is correct, is a failed revolution. It may have taken 40 plus years for it finally to come apart, but a failure never-the-less.

  63. "Romania was a particularly vile, violent dictatorship, and Ceaucesceau a particularly odious tyrant."

    And Castro isn't? Ah, joe, proving once again that you are a total fucking idiot.

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