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Posted January 28, 2007 by publisher in Castro's Cuba

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Raúl Castro is firmly in control of Cuba and in a position to keep the island stable at least for the short term after his brother Fidel dies, a top U.S. military intelligence official told a Senate panel Thursday.

Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, the U.S. Army director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, also said that Raúl, who has served as minister of defense since the early 1960s, enjoyed ``widespread respect and support among Cuban military leaders who will be crucial in a permanent government succession.’‘

The brief remarks, in a written statement presented before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, provide the first glimpse into what U.S. officials believe might occur in the months that will follow Fidel’s demise. Raúl Castro took the reins of power after Fidel fell sick nearly six months ago.

Until now, U.S. officials have said a transition was underway but provided few clues on whether they believed it would go smoothly or turn volatile.

‘‘In Cuba, Raúl Castro is firmly in control as Cuba’s acting president,’’ Maples said, ``and will likely maintain power and stability after Fidel Castro dies, at least for the short term.’‘

He was joined by the U.S. intelligence community’s top chiefs in the Senate hearing on threats to U.S. Security. Though the hearing focused almost entirely on Iraq and terrorism, the testimonies shed some new light on the intelligence community’s latest thinking on Latin America.

Latin American democracies, the officials said, fared well after the wave of presidential elections last year but were under greatest threat in Venezuela and Bolivia.

Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, whose agency coordinates the work of 16 U.S. spying organizations, said ‘‘key drivers’’ influencing events in a post-Fidel Cuba were ``how cohesive the governing elite will remain in the absence of Cuba’s iconic leader, how astute Raúl Castro proves to be as his brother’s successor, and how much pressure the population will exert on the government in seeking economic and political reforms.’‘

Negroponte, who in the past has said that Fidel Castro had just months to live, shed little new light on the 80-year-old Cuban leader’s health. His prepared remarks referred to ‘‘Castro’s apparent impending demise’’ which will deprive Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez of a ‘‘valued mentor and strategic advisor.’’ The Cuban government has refused to reveal the nature of Castro’s illness.

Negroponte’s comments also suggested that the U.S. government believes Chávez is moving to seize Fidel’s mantle as Latin America’s leading revolutionary.

Citing recent announcements of plans to revoke the license of an opposition TV station and nationalize telecommunications and power companies, Negroponte noted that after his landslide Dec. 3 reelection victory, Chávez has promised to deepen his ``revolution.’‘

‘‘Chávez is among the most stridently anti-American leaders anywhere in the world, and will continue to try to undercut U.S. influence in Venezuela, in the rest of Latin America, and elsewhere internationally,’’ he said.

Negroponte also bundled Bolivia with Venezuela as countries where elected presidents ``are taking advantage of their popularity to undercut the opposition and eliminate checks on their authority.’‘

In Bolivia, leftist President Evo Morales wants to rewrite the country’s constitution and is widely seen as being on a collision course with regional governments that oppose him.

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  1. Follow up post #1 added on January 30, 2007 by Varsi Padayachee

    t is truly interesting to listen to the inflamed rhetoric spewing from those like Negroponte. Negroponte comes off pretenting to be this esteemed diplomat, when it is widely known for his hand in much of the upheaval in Central America. Hey, we even offer shelter and comfort to Posada Carriles, Bosch, et al, who are admitted TERRORISTS.
    Now to the critiism of Pres. Chavez. The tiresome bile of anti-Amercanism is wearing very thin. There appears to be this worn out mantra that keeos rearing its childish head..if you do not agree with the prevailing US policies, then you are anti-American. Sadly, this appears to be the only argument floated by those who buy into the spin. While Pres. Chavez may not be the model leader of a country, he fought against and defeated the US policy of elite democracy, set aside for the chosen few. There is an excellent article by Chris Carlson, (source / relevant link:Gringo in Venezuela) in which he details the US’s segregated policy in LATAM. Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal, Gabriel Garcia Marquez are all in support of LATAM’s newly found independence from US meddling, and this can only benefit the orderly and progressive from Fidel to Raul. Given its strong support in the world, Cuba will weather the initial storm and attempted destabalization by the US, and come out stronger.
    Raul will move towards a more progressive agenda, commerce being his centerpiece. With the potential of the creation of a European Union type of LATAM set up, the advent of oil drilling, Raul will set Cuba on the path to a more liberalized society.
    I know from conversations with many collegues and friends, non-US multinational companies are gearing up for such an event, using Cuba as a staging platform for a larger LATAM market share.
    This certainly bodes well for Cuba and its peoples, given the opportunity to chart its own course, without the interference from the US.
    We certainly do not want to see a repeat of the US success in Iraq, in Cuba.

  2. Follow up post #2 added on February 01, 2007 by Pete Chavez

    Fairies, hobbits, elves and leprechauns.  That is the world according to Varsi.  On a very recent thread Varsi refers to the very Cuban, Cuban opposition in Miami as “The Miami Gang”.  So in his world he resents it if as an American, you speak against the U.S. government, and then these crazy rightwinger people that will call you un-American, un-patriotic, etc. 
    Yes, Varsi I do find it rather bizarre that there are those people in our society of which our bill of rights is completely lost on them, or maybe they’ve never heard of our constitution.  I also find it doubly bizarre how when refering to the Cuban opposition your description of them is that of “The Miami Gang”.  Of course, the implication being that by virtue of the word gang, they are some sort of Cuban fringe criminal element left over from the old Casino days or just plain criminal or lawless.  So in your world it is Ok to call a Cuban opposition “a gang” for expressing dissent but not ok to call an American a raitor/unpatriotic for expressing dissent.  Of course not, because you are the one that is the American.  You consistently demonstrate how only when it affects you is it wrong.  How can you ask to be respected for exercizing your rights as an American to dissent, when you can’t even respect people that can’t even exercise their right to dissent in their own country but are just fortunate enough to at least be able to do it here?  And don’t exclaim how you do respect their rights because if you did you would conduct yourself as well educated gentleman and refer to them as the opposition not some gang in South Florida.  And don’t get me wrong, I am ever rarely in sympathy with some of the more extreme elements of the Cuban Opposition.  I am only in sympathy with freedom for everyone.
    Now back to the thread.  Oh yeah, let’s try to go along with Varsi on his magical mystery tour.  Raul for the last 47 years has been secretly waiting for the opportunity to be the one to stage a Glasnost into a final Perestroika.  In the real world where I live Raul Castro will do anything to insure that him and his brothers legacy do not end in disgrace.  That is the only compelling reason Raul will have for change because he is not his brother and he knows he will not be able to keep things going the way Fidel has.  There’s probably not a soul in Cuba (communist or otherwise) that will take it from him.  And he knows this!

  3. Follow up post #3 added on February 02, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Varsi post deleted.

    The Havana Journal is for discussion and debate of the issues, not for personal attacks. Cuba is a catalyst for very passionate debates both rational and irrational.

    All viewpoints are welcome here but personal attacks will be deleted.

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  4. Follow up post #4 added on February 03, 2007 by Varsi Padayachee

    Mr. Publisher, It is terribly interesting that you would delete my posting. However, you seem to accept ay and all attacks on my person by Mr. Pete Chavez. I suggested a while ago that your site was one for discussion, not personal attacks. Yet, you allowed Mr. Pete Chavez to go on a rampage against me. Is this site democratic in its application. Or are you selective in singling me out? I am certain all this sites participants will love to hear your rationale.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on February 03, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts


    We deleted your post because it was mostly personal and off topic. I will keep an eye on other posts with the same qualities and delete them from now on.

    I will close this thread now. There’s more articles to comment on.


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