Monday, February 18, 2008

Kosovo Back In The News

The world is nervously watching the latest happenings in Kosovo.

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Blogger Ian said...

What are your thoughts on Castro retiring?

1:12 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

I don't think this is as big news as some might make it out to be. Raul's promised some reforms and he certainly has a different personality, but I think Cuba will still remain in the same deadlock.

Interestingly enough, Raul had an earlier, and more pronounced commitment to socialism. Fidel didn't have such a commitment until well after he got in power. For quite some time, the U.S. was unsure whether Fidel was a communist. They knew he had some communists in his army, but were divided over the matter as to whether he was one. That was one of the reasons why they didn't officially give military support the government he overthrow (Batista).

The matter of a transition to a non-Castro government seems to be deadlocked by the strong anti-Castro Miami lobby of Cuban exiles. It is my opinion that the U.S. embargo coupled with the vocal Miami exiles has essentially coupled to ensure that the Castroites remain in power indefinitely.

The Miami exiles generally are against Castro (most of them got there when Castro booted out their descendants, who were mainly Batista supporters). But, they also want to get rid of Castro on THEIR terms and with THEIR substitute.

But the problem is, most anti-Castro Cubans (we don't really know how many there are because they aren't so free to go public) dislike the Florida exiles nearly as much as they dislike Castro.

So, even if Raul Castro can't keep the population under his thumb, the tension between the native Cubans desire and the Miami Cuban's desire should either neutralize each other OR end up in bloodshed.

I'm quite afraid that any change in government will end up bloody. There is a lot of support for the Castro government (believe it or not). And the Miami Cubans have been known to get into the action--mercenary style. And there is a lot of opposition to both Castroism and the Miami-style bravado from local Cubans.

And the U.S. is not only disliked by pro-Castro people, but also other patriotic Cubans who see the U.S. as a pawn of the Miami exiles working against the interests of Cuba. Which, incidentally is not entirely false. The Republican party knows it needs the support of the Miami Cubans. Just go on YouTube and see how Huckabee uses his finesse and reverses his position on Cuban exports to gain the support of Miami Cuban exiles.

I say the U.S. should immediately repeal the embargo. I don't know that it is possible to have any sort of bloodless transition, but if there is it seems the lifting of the embargo will be a crucial step in restoring the trust of the average native Cuban that, apart from the issue of Castroism, the U.S. is essentially the friend of Cuba.

If you read the U.S. conditions on lifting the embargo, you'll notice that they are quite high standards, conditions that are not present in about 60-70% of the countries with which the U.S. is allied. So, even if Cuba had massive reforms, the embargo will likely not be lifted. They would basically have to become democratic and open to the point where they would basically lead all 3rd world countries in terms of freedoms.

One thing I think that will be accomplished for Cuba with Raul getting in power is that there will be less of a stigma with "dictator Fidel" being in power. A new face, even with the same policies, is still a new face. This may mean that other countries may have less patience for the U.S's embargo. You can even see it with people asking the question "Is the U.S. going to lift the embargo?" (though the answer is still a firm NO)

6:31 PM  

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