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Posted July 31, 2007 by publisher in Castro's Cuba

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Raúl Castro still under Fidel’s shadow


Raúl Castro has lived much of his life just a few steps behind older brother Fidel.

He followed Fidel in the mountain battles against the Batista dictatorship in the 1950s, and for nearly five decades since has been No. 2 in the Cuban Communist Party and in the Cuban government.

But as Raúl Castro marks his first year today out in front of his ailing brother, his reputation as a supremely efficient and organized taskmaster who shuns Fidel’s bombastic style of rule appears to be serving him well as he faces a communist nation mired in myriad difficulties.

While cutting back on the long speeches and political rallies, Castro, 76, has launched a rash of new projects and ideas to improve the troubled economy. Above all, he has been credited with keeping Cuba politically stable since Fidel took ill.

Yet even now, he appears to have been unable to entirely shake his image as Cuba’s ‘‘second banana.’’ His talks on the need for economic reforms seemed to lose some steam around March, after Fidel rebounded and began writing articles interpreted as putting limits on reforms.

‘‘The list of what didn’t happen in Cuba in the last year is much longer than what happened,’’ said Cuba’s former U.N. ambassador, Alcibiades Hidalgo, who also served as a senior personal aide to Castro and defected in 2002. ``To describe this year . . . I’d use this phrase: `Fidel Castro, better; Cuba, the same.’

‘Or this one: `Fidel Castro let go of the helm, but he remains the ship’s anchor.’ ‘’

Fidel ‘‘temporarily’’ surrendered his official duties to his brother on July 31, saying intestinal surgery made him unable to work. While his health appears to have improved, there is no sign he will ever again exercise the extraordinary power he once wielded. For the first time in 48 years, last week—two weeks before his 81st birthday—he missed Cuba’s annual July 26 revolutionary celebration.

‘‘The past 12 months have been a remarkable example of our people’s maturity, firmness in principles, unity, trust in Fidel and the party and particularly in themselves,’’ Raúl Castro said at the celebration. ``Adjustments and postponements have been necessary, and we do not rule out that more will be made in the future.’‘


  1. Follow up post #1 added on July 31, 2007 by J. Perez

    No doubt about it, Raul must get on with the business of governing and implement reforms which are long overdue and badly needed.

    We all know that Fidel’s shadow is no small matter to deal with, however, the moment is now and Raul must seize it. Postponements will only complicate the political situation and create more tension and anxiety on the people which can only lead to disorder and possible chaos.

    The reforms do not have to come in the form of an avalanche, but they have to start happening.

  2. Follow up post #2 added on July 31, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Is Raul being held back by Fidel himself or maybe just Fidel’s presence?


    Is he stalling because he can as long as Fidel is alive? In other words, will people give Raul a break and not demand reforms so long as Fidel is alive?

    Cuba consulting services

  3. Follow up post #3 added on July 31, 2007 by J. Perez

    In my opinion it’s Fidel’s presence. Also I believe perhaps Raul does not, yet, have the rest of the other main players, Alarcon, Lage and Perez-Roque, on his corner. If the top leadership is of one mind reforms will happen.

  4. Follow up post #4 added on August 01, 2007 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    as above poster mentioned the may be holding back because of Fidel’s shadow.  Which is better - to hold off making reforms another few months or year or risk going ahead adn splitting the leadership into two camps with him possibly being the loser.
    Mind you there are those who expect no change because he’s too close to his brotehr, but to draw from another parallel, East Germany, lot of people expected more of the same from Egon Krenz after Honnicker “was convinced by the politbuero to retire” sicne Krenz had been Honnicker’s shadow all along, yet within months he opened the Berlin Wall.  Anything’s possible in Cuba, including more of the same.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on August 01, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    So many possibilities. Let’s hope the Cuban people are well rewarded for their patience.

    Cuba consulting services

  6. Follow up post #6 added on August 01, 2007 by J. Perez

    Amen to that Rob!!

  7. Follow up post #7 added on August 01, 2007 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    have faith the cuban people can handle it.  Just not so confident the us govt and the miami cubans can keep it in their pants.  Might be totally unfair thing to say, but thats the way I feel.

  8. Follow up post #8 added on August 01, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    You are right but if the Cuban people appear helpless the US or the Cuban exiles may try to create some chaos to stir the pot.

    I have a feeling that the Cuban exiles are the ones who don’t think the Cuban people can “handle it” so they might step in and say “We’re from Florida and we’re here to help”.

    Cuba consulting services

  9. Follow up post #9 added on August 02, 2007 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    agree.  and maybe unfiar statement to make (but again expresses my thoughts) some or many of them will say and you can start by giving us back our seized properties and assets. ..... and then it goes downhill from there .....

  10. Follow up post #10 added on August 02, 2007 by Cuban American


    I think that is a HUGE misconception.  Remember the Cuban Exiles who actually owned property in Cuba have been over here for over 40 years now, which means they have started new lives with new property over here.  Not to mention many of these old exiles are wealthy and Cuba doesn’t look like today what the nostalgic memories we have of a Cuba of the past look like.  When you live somewhere for 40+ years and are used to how things go here, you don’t care to change your life now, you are too old.

  11. Follow up post #11 added on August 04, 2007 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    cuban american ...
    i draw from the german reunification as a model.  There were also lots of former east germans who fled or were booted out 40 yrs ago, and you’d be surprised how many took court action to get their assets and properties back.  This included a prince whose family owned about 40% of forest etc lands in east germany until they were forced to sell to the nazis. Was quite disgusting to watch and read about at the time.  Hoping the cuban exiles aren’t quite as greedy or vengeful.

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