Many of these Cuban exiles and their children have waited almost 50 years for this news. Beginning in 1959, Fidels Communist government outlawed political opposition and scooped up most of the islands property, prompting hundreds of thousands of the educated and affluent Cubans to leave for the U.S. For them, Fidel represents everything bad that has happened to Cuba.
Some dreamers in Miami and elsewhere believe Cuba will soon become a democracy, an idea as foreign there as in Iraq. I dont know why people are jumping around, Cuban-American and former Detroit Tiger Barbaro Garbey said this week. We hope that the system changes, a little more democracy. But it will be very difficult to change that system in Cuba - Fidel, Raul or whoever is coming from the Communist Party, its going to be the same thing.
Fidel Castro must be near the end he would never give up power unless he was physically unable to govern. It is telling that the announced change came via letter from Castro rather than one of his marathon speeches that marked far less significant moments in Cuban history. The scenario he and the Cuban Communists want to avoid is Fidels sudden death without a successor in place.
Everyone knows Raul Castro has been handpicked to succeed his older brother. Cubas communist government is making this transition now to help quell possible unrest that could bubble up in a nation where only senior citizens can remember any other leader.
George W. Bush will likely be the first U.S. president since Eisenhower to outlast Castro in office. President Bush has pledged $80 million to help Cuba make a transition to a government of which he approves. Of course, if history is any indication, American assistance to Cuba will return our island neighbor to its pre-revolutionary status as a ruthless Batista-type dictatorship, friendly to the interests of American corporations.
As pointed out by the Bush administration, Raul Castro is no Mother Teresa. Unless he has mellowed dramatically in recent years, Raul is more likely to crackdown viciously on opponents than his older brother. Rauls preference for executions of dissenters before and after the revolution is well documented. Also, Raul Castros dogmatic communist beliefs are said to have swayed a more pragmatic Fidel soon after the revolution.
As Barbaro Garbey suggests, life is not going to improve on the island anytime soon. The biggest danger is that Cuban-Americans, who hold disproportionately large political clout in Washington, will pressure the Bush Administration to invade Cuba. They
are frustrated that an American economic embargo of 45 years, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and even Fidel Castros demise cannot dislodge the communists that have run the island for almost 50 years.
Yet, it is the end of an era in Cuba life will not be the same without Fidel Castro. No one knows for sure what will happen. There are no polls in Cuba, so it is not clear how much support Castro has but it is significant. It is said that the farmers in the countryside still adamantly support the Castros and the communist government as they have since the revolution. In Havana, where half of the population resides, allegiances are split between those who admire Fidel and those who would risk everything to make the 90-mile journey to Florida and sometimes do.
This is a nation that acquired weapons of mass destruction in the past, run by a dictator who has taunted the U.S. for many years. Sound familiar?
My fear is that, in a climate of recent U.S. foreign policy failures, America will be tempted to invade Cuba, a tiny country where our military success seems assured. As with all nations, the Cuban people should be allowed to determine their own fate. A gang of Cuban-Americans, most who have never been to the island, should not be allowed to establish Cubas next government.
Mr. President, you have plenty of issues to deal with on the world stage at the moment, so do the right thing STAY OUT OF CUBA.