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Posted June 18, 2003 by publisher in Castro's Cuba

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Fidel Castro is facing a new enemy. He calls it, with great contempt, ‘‘the little gang.’’ The little gang is Europe. It’s 25 countries: Spain, Italy, Britain, France, Germany and so on. They are the 15 members of the European Union with 10 others who are waiting at the door.

As Castro puts it, the head of the little gang is Spanish Prime Minister Jose Mara Aznar. But both Aznar and the little gang supposedly are pawns of Washington and follow, like lackeys, the policies of the State Department.
The Comandante lies. True, Europe has revised its assessment of the Cuban situation, but not under White House influence. Rather, it did so by verifying in situ that Castro is an incorrigible tyrant, intent on preserving a cockeyed model, who has rejected each and every gesture of good will coming from the Old Continent.

Castro has not moved one inch from his Stalinist bunker, overflowing with imprisoned democrats, where the execution wall has never interrupted its cheerful chore.

The opposite is happening. The United States is nearing the European position conceived by Spain in 1996. A phenomenon of convergence is occurring among the democratic nations in the face of the last communist dictatorship in the West.

The developed nations of the First World are not the only ones to coincide in that stance. A short while ago the Latin American Parliament, at the urging of Uruguayan deputy Jaime Trobo, also denounced Cuba’s violation of human rights and asked for an in-depth investigation of the imprisonment and mistreatment of dissidents sentenced for reasons of conscience.

Felipe Gonzlez, Spain’s former prime minister, told Herald journalist Andres Oppenheimer that Fidel Castro today is a pathetic character, comparable to the exhausted Franco who was oblivious of reality in the final days of his long mandate.

Castro is not aware of his remarkable anachronism.

The dictator doesn’t realize that he’s a relic of the Cold War. He is propped up by repression, inertia and the immense fear he instills in Cubans inside and outside the circles of power, but he lacks legitimacy and institutions that can continue to function after his physical disappearance.

To the more-lucid members of Cuba’s ruling class—Carlos Lage, Ricardo Alarcon, Remrez de Estenoz, even the powerful Gen. Abelardo Colome Ibarra—Fidel Castro’s choleric senility is extremely embarrassing. His aggressive behavior, typical of an emotionally ill person incapable of controlling his emotions, endangers the regime’s continuity.

To call Europe a ‘‘little gang’’ and force government leaders to march carrying placards that depict Aznar as Hitler and Italy’s Prime Minister Berlusconi as Mussolini is a profoundly ridiculous act that only humiliates those ordered to perform it.

And that’s not unusual behavior. Castro has insulted many presidents: Mexico’s Vicente Fox, Uruguay’s Jorge Batlle, Peru’s Alejandro Toledo, Chile’s Ricardo Lagos, El Salvador’s Francisco Flores—even Argentina’s Eduardo Duhalde, whom he called a “boot licker.’‘

Castro’s government is heading for political isolation, as tried years ago against racist South Africa. The next step will be to ask investors in Cuba to abide by an ethical code like ‘‘the Sullivan principles,’’ once adapted by Cuban dissident Gustavo Arcos to the Cuban reality. International businessmen will have to pack their bags if the workers are not granted their rights and if the same standards are not applied to Cubans and foreigners.

It is inconceivable that Cubans, like the blacks in South Africa’s apartheid, cannot own property or stay at hotels used by tourists. It is intolerable that they don’t have the right to

strike and that 95 percent of their salary is impounded.

We’re witnessing the final act of Castroism. All the elements for regime change are there: The economic crisis is unstoppable; the ruling class is totally demoralized; the system lacks political legitimacy, and the dictator—a key element of the power structure—has lost his reason through cerebral spasms. He has become an unbearable and blithering old man who mindlessly leads the country to the edge of the cliff.

What’s needed to turn the page and begin a transition to democracy? That’s obvious: Castro’s death or a worsening of his mental health that prompts his merciful removal from power.

I’m sure that thought crossed the minds of the ministers and generals compelled to shout slogans against ‘‘the little gang’’ while they marched under the inclement Havana sun. In their gestures we could notice a deep moral and physical exhaustion, the effect of so much arbitrariness and stupidity.

The final slogan may very well be: “Prozac or death!’’

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