A deal with Castro, for a post-Castro future: Reuter’s

A deal with Castro, for a post-Castro future

 December 21  
 Critics of President Obama’s move to normalize relations with Cuba insist it will deliver big rewards to the island’s military-led government, which controls as much as 80 percent of the economy.

They are almost certainly correct.

The bigger question, though, is whether Obama’s initiatives can position the United States to more effectively influence events in Cuba on the day the country is no longer run by someone named Castro.

If the overarching goal of the old U.S. policy was to precipitate a collapse of the Communist government, Obama’s new approach reflects a conclusion that such instability is no longer in the best interests of the United States.

With the announcement last week, Washington acknowledges that, like Havana, it wants a managed, orderly transition to a post-Castro future. What that future will look like is the game going forward.

Fidel Castro has been noticeably absent this week during a historic break in hostilities between Cuba and the United States. But he remains on the minds of many Cubans. (Reuters)

“Do we want a hard landing or a soft landing?” Arturo Valenzuela, who served as assistant secretary of state for Latin America during Obama’s first term, asked in an interview. “It’s not in our interest nor in the interest of the Cuban people to see a total collapse.”

Raúl Castro, 83, has repeatedly said he will step down from the presidency in 2018. There has been speculation that he might leave early, while he’s still in relatively good health. Among his possible successors are Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel, 54.

In an address to Cuba’s parliament Saturday, Castro set April 2016 as the date for a new Communist Party Congress — an event that has served in the past as the occasion for reform announcements and leadership changes. The last one, in 2011, was the first of its kind in 14 years.

In the audience was 21-year-old engineering student Elián González, who as a child survived the wreck of a boat headed to the United States and became the object of a drawn-out custody battle that eventually saw him return to Cuba. There, too, were the long-imprisoned, lionized intelligence agents known as the “Cuban 5,” the last three of whom were freed in the deal with Obama.

Fidel Castro, 88 and ailing, was not there.

In his speech, Raúl Castro reiterated a willingness to talk about a broad range of issues with Washington but said that Cuba’s one-party state and its socialist principles were not up for discussion.

2 thoughts on “A deal with Castro, for a post-Castro future: Reuter’s

  1. In his 1953 work, The First New Nation, political sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset concluded that the United States of America had in its short history build an extraordinary economy within a powerful state while preserving political freedom, democracy and equalitarian values.
    But Lipset also observed that there were (and always had been) powerful forces at work in favor of elitism and inequality. “If they should achieve a permanent breakthrough,” he warned, “then America will become a different nation.” Are we now at the brink of such a “breakthrough?”
    While no one can predict with certainty the future of American politics, there are certain disquieting trends in politics and law which should be carefully studied and opposed. Since 1971, Big Business has built a vast infrastructure for the waging of political campaigns, for shaping public opinion, and for developing and influencing public policy. One need not be very radical to find the seeds of oligarchy in this remarkable acceleration by business of its spending on lobbying, “research,” and political warfare.
    In the elections of 2008 and 2012, Obama won overwhelming support from African Americans and solid majorities among people of Asian and Hispanic descent. His strong appeal for young voters caused drew them to the polls in record-breaking numbers. For over two decades, women have voted Democratic more than men have–the famous “gender gap,” and this was truer than ever of the last two presidential elections. These outcomes suggested that a new America was emerging in which the makeup of the population would favor the Democrats. But will this Obama coalition prove durable once Obama is no longer the candidate?
    The Republican Party has obviously moved to the right on a host of issues and many of its officeholders have engaged in a partisanship that is unusually bitter and strident. The Tea Party
    extremists have demanded that if Obama is for something, then all good republicans must oppose it—whatever it is. This full-time offensive against all things Obama has on the whole been quite successful, and the big money PACs have gotten their money’s worth. The Republicans now control both houses of Congress, 30 states have Republican governors and a similar number have Republican majorities in both houses of their legislatures. With the movement to the Right by Justice Kennedy, there is now a conservative majority on most issues that come before the
    the U.S. Supreme Court. The Democrat in the White House is all that stands between the radicalized Republican Party and a season of change in national policy that would be most un welcome to progressives.

    One may ask, how can the pro business and the fundamentalist churches join forces so readily and consistently? By stressing what they have in common rather their differences. So compromise
    is taking place all right, but not so much between the White House and Congress, but within the Republican Party itself.


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