Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

15 December, 2006

The times they are a-changin'

On the heels of Pinochet, we see this buried deep in the front section of Friday's WaPo:
Cuban President Fidel Castro is very ill and close to death, Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte said yesterday.

Castro's legacy is going to be a difficult one to reckon. His five decades in power have undoubtedly produced more than its fair share of injustices. But Cuba was also spared the wholesale slaughter of the neo-colonial Central American proxy wars of the 80s.

There have been a few Pinochet-Castro comparisons floating around the 'osphere of late, many pointing out that the right-wing's barbarian produced a relatively stable "free market" Chile, while Cuba's economy languished under the left-wing barbarian. Could a socialist Cuban economy have succeeded had the United States not stubbornly clung to its open hostility and trade embargo? In the contest of long-term results, didn't the left-wing barbarian enter the contest with one arm tied behind its back? What narrative is going to dominate the billions of people in the world in the next 100 years, the one about the Latin American thug who overthrew a democratically elected regime with the help of the gringos, or the Latin American thug who overthrew a near-feudal vassal and said "Fuck you" to the United States - right on its front porch - for decades?

More importantly, as much as they have chafed under Castro, I don't know that the "freedom" of North American free trade regimes are what the Cuban people have in mind for their post-Castro society. If - and this is a hugely qualified if - Raul Castro were to allow free and fair elections upon his brother's death, and the Cuban people subsequently elected a government dedicated to Cuban socialism (sans the more repressive elements, presumably), would the United States respect that decision and still open trade relations? I honestly have no idea, and I'll gladly defer to any Latin America experts in the house. Whatever the case, I think I'd be nervous about the next few years if I were a Cuban.

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