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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A sensitive insight into Cuba’s current political situation and Fidel’s sensitive tummy. 

Apologies to the B.I.R. crew….it’s been a bit tough to get adequate internet time while perched in the foothills of the Andes, but I still love you all…Bobert.

Fidel Castro has succeeded his presidential powers for the first time in the history of the Cuban revolution. The Cuban President decided that he will be incapable of handling his presidential responsibilities for the next few weeks while undergoing surgery for a gastro-intestinal bleed. There is really nothing overly exceptional about this event. But from the point of view of some Miami exiles, this is bigger than the second coming of Christ. These dummies should really go home, as Castro’s time in hospital will not bring any sort of political change (on either side of the Florida Straits), but it may help to raise awareness of the seriousness of G.I. bleeds. So let’s go over a few topics of interest, shall we?

Why Raul is in power:

A lot of the media has done well to show that Raul is now in charge (for the time being) but they didn’t do well to explain why. Raul Castro is the Vice President of Cuba, and like any V.P. the job is about taking the reigns when the head of state cannot perform his responsibilities. So, it’s not like Fidel called up Raul and said, “man, can you watch the place while I’m resting up,” it’s more like it is a normal operation of the Cuban political system. Moreover, within 24 hours of the announcement of Fidel taking time off, Cuban T.V. aired “mesa rodunda” (the daily discussion program of political events affecting the island) to openly discuss how to handle the bosses absence. As I write this, several political figures and academics are openly discussing what sort of changes should take place to deal with the situation.

What will the Whitehouse do:

Regrettably, the reality of Cuba depends on the decisions made in Washington. For the past 47 years the non-existent political relations, consistent psychological warfare, attempted coups and occasional assignation attempts have all acted to shape Cuba into a political fortress. The post-Castro era will greatly depend on the sort of relations Washington wishes to make, and from what the television is showing, it doesn’t look good at all. Spain, Venezuela and other countries have offered their sympathy to Cuba’s leader, and they have wished him a speedy recovery. Washington is “watching the situation carefully.”


You’ve never seen an old man in hospital before? The classy thing to do would be to send flowers, offer best wishes, or something like that. But to watch the situation carefully? This sort of morbidity is testimony to how Washington approaches just about everything: without a shred of humanity, and absolutely no sensitivity. This aside, it is really unlikely that Washington will make any sort of attempt to normalize relations with Raul. All the U.S. sees is a market where the majority of under-educated fat-assed American tourists are not spending time. They don’t seem to get the fact that Cuba has over 2 million tourists a year from just about everywhere else (including disobedient Americans who travel against the State Department and Treasury Board travel ban). Cuba’s economy is doing fine without the U.S., and for this reason, the U.S. will not normalize relations, they’ll just watch the situation carefully.

What the Miami Cubans are doing:

There are people pouring out in the street celebrating, what is now being called a death watch. Let’s think about this. These people are actually out in the streets celebrating and carrying on like a bunch of drunken college kids over the fact that an old man is ill. What does this say about the mentality of these people, who when compared to any other exile community in the world, are well fed to the point of obesity, cover themselves with gold, and have the ear of Washington? Yearning for the death of Fidel, and pining for the good old days of the Batista dictatorship (when a lot of these gusanos did well for themselves, as did the mafia, meanwhile the rest of the country was illiterate and hungry), is what these people want more than anything. Now, not all Miami exiles share this mentality, thank goodness, rather it’s the couple hundred idiots on Calle Ocho in front the CNN camera saying “I wish that bastard dead.”

In fact a lot of Miami Cubans don’t share this mentality, and they yearn for open dialogue between Havana and Washington. The problem is that the cameras are not pointed at them, and what we’re up against is a popular vision of a unified Miami deadset against Havana, when in fact policies from Washington have fucked these people over a lot more. I hope that those members of Miami’s exile community, the ones that seek dialogue before death watches, can speak out and get the message of dialogue out there while the world is listening.

A death watch?

A message to those who have set up a death watch: GO HOME and take up a hobby like reading, or exercising, or anything useful. Gastro-intestinal (G.I.) bleeds are slow processes that can indeed be deadly if not treated. In fact many people in the United States die from these things because they fail to seek effective preventative, and early stage care. Now the Cuban healthcare system is based entire upon early detection and prevention. Fidel’s surgery is a very effective one for halting GI bleeds, and the recovery rate is quite good. The gravest risk is infection, pneumonia, or heart attack because of the surgery itself. Again, Cuba runs a tight ship when it comes to health, and Fidel stands pretty good odds of pulling out of this…just with a little less intestine (which means that he’ll need to take some drugs, and his poop will be a bit stinkier).

Will Fidel be back?

Castro just went on Cuban radio to say that he’s recovering well, and in good spirits. The dizzy bitch on CNN said that there are no photos of him, but then again, do you really want to see an 80 year old man in hospital attire?

He will pull through this medical problem, no doubt. Will he govern Cuba again?


For the next seven weeks he has opened an aperture for dialogue both within Cuba and within the international community to try to create a plan, not necessarily of normalization, but rather of transition. I suspect that within the next seven weeks, while Raul is in control, the National Assembly of Cuba, and other political institutions will make necessary adjustments to their political system to select a new leader, be it with top level democratic decisions, or through the current process of Cuban democracy which allows direct voting at the community level. If this occurs, Washington will still likely remain antagonistic to Cuba, and will attempt to continue underhanded manoeuvres, rather than open dialogue.

Thanks man - better late than never. In fact a very timely post ... trying to get useful info on Cuba from the US media is like trying to get useful info on Northern Ireland from the British media. So, your post is welcome.

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