On Castro and Cuba

posted 02 August 2006

It's a blog, right? So I can talk about politics and anything else that I'm not qualified to talk about with impunity, as long as everybody keeps in mind that obviously my employer accepts no responsibility for, and indeed does not give two hoots about, the opinions expressed.

From the Ed via email:

...I take it we've all heard that Castro is mad sick, and that his brother Raul (who, btw, is rumoured to be gay -- scandalous!) is currently in charge of the shop. Said brother is 75, so it's not like this is much of a solution. Anyway, my question is -- what do people think will happen if Castro dies in the next couple of months? Bay of Pigs II: Totally Competent This Time, We Swear? A big triumph for the opposition? I expect a slow crawl toward reform, myself. Give Cuba like 10 years, and it'll be like the DR but with better hospitals.

And here's my response:

There will definitely not be an invasion funded by the US. We* don't have the political will, and frankly we haven't got the resources to go invading a third country, or we'd already have invaded Iran. I don't expect the opposition will be allowed to triumph either, at least not immediately. I think a good model will probably be the USSR under Gorbachev -- there will be a transitional period of 5 years or so as the old guard gradually loosen things up, and then it'll hit a tipping point and there will be a bloodless transition to democracy of a sort, but probably a typical island democracy with lots of corruption and incompetence and, as it's Cuba, a lot of heavy-handed US intervention.

As for your 10 year prediction: by DR you mean the Dominican Republic? I think that's a pretty low bar to aim for, given how many more natural resources Cuba has to draw upon. In 10 years a democratic Cuba has the potential to be a very interesting power in Caribbean politics -- it'll be interesting to see if they decide to face the island republics and establish some kind of regional power. But it's more likely that they'll do what DR and a bunch of the other northern Caribbean states have done, and essentially become a US satellite.

* For some reason I use "we" when talking about all three of the US, the UK and Trinidad. Colour me schizophrenic.

Update: added "utterly redundant" credit and footnote.

tagged with