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Cuba Sin fidel
Monday, June 13, 2005   By: Juan Paxety

Cuba without fidel

The Seattle Times has an interesting article headlined "What happens after Castro?" It recognizes, first, that fidel is getting older, and :

The second: Someday, Cuba will be Castro-less. It's not that Miami Cubans aren't eager to see a Cuba sans Castro. Leaders of the exile community here expect huge celebrations to break out all over Little Havana the hour Castro's death is announced.

What does worry them is the unknown: What comes next? And just how will the 11.2 million newly liberated Cubans - if, indeed, they turn out to be truly "liberated" - treat those among the 2 million or so Cuban exiles who would choose to return?

The article points out that most Cubans can't remember a day without fidel and have trouble imagining their country without him.  I don't wholly understand this concept - most Russians couldn't remember a time before communism, most Eastern Europeans couldn't remember a time before Soviet occupation. They had no trouble imagining a country without a dictator - why are Cubans different?

Anyway, the article goes on to introduce Jaime Suchlicki, director of the Institute of Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami, and the man who runs the Cuba Transitional Project (CTP).

The CTP has published 37 studies, created six databases, crafted four "mini" analyses and cranked out an unceasing stream of fact sheets and monthly newsletters on Cuban politics, economics, demographics and human rights since 2002, the year the U.S. Agency for International Development began financing the project.

Suchlicki gets calls from think-tank types as well as Cuban-American entrepreneurs and multinational conglomerates - IBM, McDonald's, Texaco, Anheuser-Busch - all of which are concocting "entrance strategy" plans for Cuba.

Similar plans were made before the fall of the Berlin Wall, before the Soviet Union crashed, and even in the 90s when plans were considered to ease the embargo.

"Bottom line? Cuba isn't going to open up the way Eastern Europe did," he says. "I think Cuba will probably act more like China, only with a lot less economic freedom. In the beginning, anyway."


"The military. The armed forces are running 65 percent of the Cuban economy. Those guys are not going back to the barracks  - not unless they think they can make more money for themselves by wearing a suit and a tie."

Very, very interesting. Perhaps this is the best arguement against folks who have advocated (yes, I am one) ending the embargo and letting U.S. goods overwhelm the Cuban economy. The folks with guns won't allow it to happen. As they say, read the whole thing.

Update - Val at Babalu posts a comment from a reader killcastro on the same subject. I can't think of a way to summarize it - go read it now. As the above article shows, the big corporations are planning for Cuba's future - are the Cubans?




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