Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Viva Fidel!

It has been a very busy few days for me, with little time to get my thoughts on paper on these critical events. My thoughts are with the people of Cuba and my eyes and ears are on the Bush Administration and exile groups.

Suffice to say, the Miami exile community has embarrassed themselves once again - both in their nauseating (to Cubans) premature celebrations and insistence that Castro is really dead. Check out what some of their leaders are up to as we speak:

"We are preparing our boats and our planes to possibly send a contingency to Cuba, to unite with the internal movement," said Ramon Sanchez, the leader of the Democracy Movement, which has staged flotillas off the Cuban coast for more than 10 years. Alfredo Mesa of the Cuban American National Foundation said"We're in a position to help," he said, referring to the $80 million in post-Castro aid promised by the U.S. government to the Cuban people. Members of Alpha 66 - a hard-line paramilitary group that claims to have conducted sabotage missions on the island in the past and believes that change can only come from an armed conflict - would conduct their training this weekend, at their campground near the Everglades.

The Bush Administration seems unsure what do, yet Bush's own words seem quite dangerous: "If Fidel Castro were to move on because of natural causes, we've got a plan in place to help the people of Cuba understand there's a better way," Bush said on Miami's Spanish-language Radio Mambi, Bush also told Miami TV station WPLG: "Our objective is to free the Cuban people."

Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans are crafting legislation that "takes advantage of the incapacitation of Fidel Castro to advance civil society-building measures and the transition to a democratic Cuba," according to a summary obtained by The Associated Press. The House's three Cuban-American members, Republican Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, his brother Mario and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, met Wednesday morning with members of the National Security Council.

The Cuban people are behaving like I knew they would - with tranquility, sadness and a bit of trepidation over the fate of their hard-fought revolution: According to the BBC: On the streets of Havana there has been a remarkable sense of calm, almost nonchalance, in the face of the dramatic news. The Chicago Tribune in Havana writes: "Just below the surface, among trusted family and friends, many residents expressed an emotional mix of anxiety and fear, sadness and expectation, as they suddenly faced the prospect of their future after Castro"

The media has predictably wheeled out all their Castro bios they've been sitting on -for both Raul and Fidel. The Miami Herald is hypervenalating with reports calling Castro's stress related condition a lie and citing supposed security force movements in the country. International papers are urging the administration not to do anything stupid, ie. listen to the hard-liners. The NYTimes agreed, urging the Adminstration to ignore those with "backward-looking fantasies." Even the Wall Street Journal is encouraging the repeal of the Helms-Burton Act, which prevents lifting the embargo. While the exiles on the blogosphere are finally realizing they popped the champagne too soon.

By the way, I was a guest caller on KPCC's (NPR) Airtalk yesterday show yesterday. They had a very knowledgeable expert on (Peter Kornbluh from the National Security Archives), who answered my question about what the Cubans want right now very truthfully (the vast majority want to part of a counter-revolution). He admitted Castro is a very popular and loved figure with most Cubans, that the next largest segment sees Fidel as a benevolent, if autocratic, father figure who has held the country together and that just a "very small proportion" wants regime change.

I wish Americans knew this very elementary fact, but sadly most media does not care to mention it and therefore most assume people are wanting a change in Cuba. It is simply not true, as Cuba experts admitted at a conference last year.


Blogger jsb said...

Yet the people do desire to embrace capitalism, but perhaps through Raul, rather than regime change. You can feel it in the air. Raul is going to introduce market reforms, just as he did in the '90s, reluctantly accepted by Fidel. You will see the cuban people thrive, on their own, through capitalism. Oh, I guess that's kind of a rebuke against communism and your form of socialism, isn't it, Matthew? When those changes lift the standard of living, will you still be defending the old ways of standing in lines with ration cards?

Poor Matthew, seeing your world view crumble. Pobrecito.

4:43 AM  

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