At this point
in history, only two interesting questions remain about the failed
experiment staged by Castro on that poor island:
why has a man as eccentric and absurd as he -- capable of carrying
out feats as improbable as the destruction of the centenary sugar
industry, multiplying by 10 the number of prostitutes, executing
or eliminating 16,000 people, and pushing into exile 15 percent
of the Cuban population -- lasted so long in power?
that his administration is the worst the country has ever endured,
incapable for the past half century of allowing Cubans to have
drinking water, electricity, food and shelter in minimally reasonable
second question also is obvious: What will happen when he disappears?
After all, we're talking about an ailing 79-year-old man with
Parkinson's disease who exhibits very clear symptoms of senile
dementia and has been struck by several cerebral ischemias that
have affected his ability to communicate. He mumbles, repeats
himself, becomes incoherent and confused, and displays aggressively
bad temper at the slightest contrariety.
He can still
talk for eight consecutive hours without the slightest concern
for his listeners' bladders. What's important is not his staying
power but the content of his speeches. He is a pitiful man who
never stops uttering nonsense, to the embarrassment of a ruling
class that has been trained to obey a charismatic and presumably
infallible leader and now doesn't know what to do with this addlebrained
and neurotic old geezer who just as blithely designs pygmy cows
as he expounds on the unfathomable scientific secret of pressure
question has a very simple answer: Castro has lasted almost five
decades in power, despite being a disastrous head of government,
because he has created a hermetic institutional cage from which
no escape is possible. His permanence has nothing to do with his
talent as a leader, the era in which we live or his ability as
a strategist. He is sustained not by his virtues but by his defects:
his lack of scruples and his unlimited capacity for inflicting
harm even on those who surround him, as shown by the execution
by firing squad of Arnaldo Ochoa, his best general.
utter control over the parliament, the judicial system, the armed
forces and the communications media. Meanwhile, the political
police watch, intimidate and punish any member of the power structure
who deviates even one millimeter from the official line.
in the opposition -- a handful of extraordinarily brave women
and men who are constantly spied upon and infiltrated by the security
corps -- cannot move beyond the strict limits imposed by the apparatus,
either. When they do, they are incarcerated, mistreated or killed
without the slightest compassion.
the Cubans get rid of Castro? For exactly the same reason the
North Koreans don't get rid of Kim Jong Il: because they can't.
after his death everything will begin to change, probably at a
very rapid pace. Why? Because the ruling class is beset by a profound
demoralization. They obey not because of conviction but because
of fear and because they know that the dictatorship doesn't even
allow for voluntary marginalization. Either they bow their heads
and applaud, or they're wiped out.
situation will begin to change during the comandante's
wake, when everyone -- Tyrians and Trojans -- will feel a huge
relief as the coffin is lowered into the pit and the grip of the
dictator's hand around their necks vanishes forever.
be the moment when the regime's reformists -- a huge majority
-- and the democrats in the opposition will begin, peacefully
and systematically, to tear down that anachronistic madhouse.