A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fidel is Finished

After almost fifty years in power, Fidel Castro has resigned as dictator of Cuba. (I know he is officially called "president," but it is more correct to refer to him as a dictator.) For many this is good news. Castro has ruined that wonderful country; and even though the Cuban government blames the U.S. embargo on their economic woes (and no doubt, it has hurt), Cuba has had and continues to have plenty of trading partners including countries in Europe, and South America. Cuba is a mess, not primarily because of the embargo, but because Communism doesn't work.

Of course, it needs to be mentioned that the Communist Revolution was made possible in Cuba because of the ruthless reign of Fulgencio Batista, who was not a Communist, but a dictator who was supported by the United States. How true it is that when people are being oppressed, imprisoned, and murdered by their government, they will follow anyone who offers hope for deliverance, whether that person comes from the Left or the Right. Oppression is oppression, whether it is Leftist or Fascist.

Castro's brother Raul now officially takes the reins, although he has been in charge for some time. In some ways, he is more of a hard-liner than his brother, but in other ways he has appeared more open, but what he does not have is his brother's charisma. Raul himself is no "spring chicken." Things could get really interesting when his brother either cedes power, either through health issues or his own demise. While the overwhelming majority of Cuban citizens want to see a change toward democracy, there is a also a new generation of committed Lefties in the Cuban parliament and in other offices of government.

Regardless of how this plays out, one thing definitely needs to happen. The United States needs to loosen its hard-line stance and begin a dialogue with the Cuban government. There are enough people in Cuba who want to have some kind of working relationship with the United States, that it is entirely possible to draw Cuba toward the United States and away from Venezuela and its two-bit dictator, Hugo Chavez.

Moreover, the embargo needs to be lifted gradually. The infrastructure of Cuba is so outdated and in such disrepair, that a sudden flood of American tourists and American trading partners would overwhelm that tiny island country. To allow initially for limited tourism and investment would present an opportunity for Cuba for modernize the country and prepare for normal trade relations with the United States.

The embargo is an outdated tool of the Cold War. It is time to move beyond it. How inconsistent it is for the United States to accept Communist China as a trading partner, giving it favored nation status, in the hope that a free market China will open the way for democracy in that country, and yet, when it comes to Cuba, the U.S. government has taken a completely different approach.

While it is premature to get too excited about the possibility of sweeping change in Cuba, it is also true that with Fidel's official exit, and the aging and graying of the Communist stalwarts in Cuba, there is now an opportunity. If the United States takes a different course of action, and if there are enough persons in the Cuban government open to change, at some point, we Americans may be visiting a free and democratic Cuba.

I would welcome that day!

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Cross-Posted at RedBlueChristian


Art said...

I don't see much changing in Cuba simply because Fidel Castro is no longer "president". I'm sure he will retain some form of power and influence.

But I totally agree with your call for a U.S. dialogue with Cuba. That is long overdue.

Allan R. Bevere said...


True; not much will change in the near future; but we are now presented with an opportunity to work with Cuba in a way that will, one day, lead to substantive change.

My fear is that this will not happen because the Cuban/American vote in Florida is critical to that state. I am willing to bet the house on the fact that neither John McCain, nor Hillary Clinton, nor Barack Obama will suggest lifting the embargo. They will not risk losing the Cuban/American vote.

Anonymous said...

Communism is an evil that must not be suffered to endure. Cuba is one of the last communist nations in the world. We should not do anything that will enable that situation to continue. We should do everything possible to hasten the end of that national catastrophe. The same holds for China and N. Korea. The end result of such a policy will be freedom and opportunity for those people whose lives this system savages.

As a component of this effort the embargo should not be lifted. To lift it would obviously not be politically wise. Further to lift it would be to adopt a policy for failure.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Thanks for your comments.

The policy in Cuba has failed. That is why after fifty years, Cuba is still staunchly Communist.

Anonymous said...

The embargo against Cuba is a residue of the U.S. Cold War policy of containment. In the post WWII ear it was one of several tactics used by the U.S. to stem what to some seemed to be the inexorable spread of communism.

Since the Cuban revolution Castro's style of communism has lurched along propped up first by subsidies provided by the former USSR and now by limited trade with various nation. Cuba is only 90 miles away yet because of the embargo it finds itself almost completely cut off from the largest most dynamic economy in the world. This is a fact not lost on the citizens or leadership of Cuba.

The embargo has continued only because Castro is utterly dependent upon a failed economic model. Free people would not willingly vote to allow themselves to be subjected to a dictator.

Some consider the embargo of Cuba a failure. In the same way some view the U.S. effort in Vietnam as a failure. Due to political ineptitude it was a loss. Strategically it was a success as it stopped cold the unchecked spread of communism in the East.

For years Cuba sought without success to export communism to other nations in this hemisphere. The embargo contributed to that failure as Cuba was not able to access broad sources of supply and finance.

The embargo continues to be an effective tool by which to bring pressure upon Castro and his supporters to accept the failure of communism and begin the process of transitioning to a market economy.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Only your last two paragraphs are even relevant to the discussion.

Cuba was not able to export communism because there was no hunger for it in other countries, except among a few elites. You forget that Castro was only possible in Cuba because of the Batista dictatorship. Communism only gains a foothold in the midst of such an oppressive context. In addition, you forget that the U.S.S.R. had more than ample supplies and resources to export communism to the Western hemisphere, but in spite of that, they too were unable to have an influence.

What will transition Cuba to a free market economy is the practice of it among its people. Eighty percent of the Cuban people want change, and they are very aware of the success of the free market because of the connections so many of them have to relatives in the United States.

I am baffled by your belief that after fifty years, the embargo can be considered to be a success. If that is success, by what standards do you evaluate failure?

It's time to give up the "successful" embargo and become more creative in our approach to Cuba. With the desire for change on the part of the Cuban people, the opportunity is now.

Anonymous said...

Batista would certainly qualify as an oppressor. In Castro the Cubans only swapped one devil for another.

It can not entirely be said that the spread of communism failed due to lack of oppressed populations. The failure of the USSR and Cuba to extend the reach of communism in this hemisphere was as much or more a direct result of concerted effort on the part of the US.

It may be that a unrestrained free market economy will enable Cuba to transition away from communism to freedom. The critical issues is that it be unrestrained. Otherwise the still born experiment of China will be the result.

Following the revolution had the US dialogged with Castro rather than instituting an embargo, 100% of the Cuban people still would be no closer to freedom. The severe and broad based impact of the embargo on trade and foreign exchange was more than Castro could by bluster and bluff explain away. Without spending millions of dollars and without taking innocent lives, requiring only the cost of time the embargo effectively isolated both Castro and Cuba.

The embargo should remain in place until the new administration in Cuba demonstrates a genuine move away from communism. Once that is demonstrated then measured efforts to help the Cuban people should be instituted. This help should be extended so as to bring about the end of communism in Cuba and the establishment of a freely elected democratic government.