Cuba Politics

Raul Castro - After Fidel - Opinion

Posted May 30, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Politics.


During his visit to The Washington Times this week, Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega described Cuban President Fidel Castro as an increasingly paranoid dictator, expectantly awaiting a clash with the United States. While the motivations of Mr. Castro are often difficult to divine, the public conjuring of this threat could facilitate, in his mind, the meeting of a goal dear to his heart: An eventual transfer of power to his brother, Raul Castro.

  “There are some worrying signs that [Fidel] Castro is hunkering down for some kind of confrontation with the United States, real or imagined,” Mr. Noriega told reporters and editors. If real, that confrontation would be provoked by Fidel Castro, presumably to secure some interest of his, added Mr. Noriega.

Most Cuba experts tend to agree that Fidel Castro probably won’t face serious threats to his repressive rule while he is either alive or of sound mind. Raul Castro’s succession could also go smoothly ó in the beginning. There are several factors that could break the solidarity of Cuba’s armed forces and thereby threaten Raul Castro’s leadership. Fidel Castro’s conjuring of a potential U.S. attack could be geared toward strengthening fraternity in military ranks.

  In the study “The Cuban military and transition dynamics,” Brian Latell, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, outlines the sources of tension within Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces and what they imply for Raul Castro’s succession aspirations. The armed forces are widely considered the most professional and merit-based organization in Cuba. Surveys taken of Cuban exiles indicate a broad appreciation of the armed forces, which are expected to play a central role in any transfer of power in Cuba. But that appreciation doesn’t appear to apply to the head of the forces, Raul Castro, who is poorly regarded, according to the surveys. The Prussian, as Raul is often called, is an effective military commander but ruthless in guarding his powers and utterly lacking in charisma.

  Raul Castro has also made missteps that have alienated him from a potentially large segment of the corps. The 1989 televised execution of revolutionary hero Arnaldo Ochoa for political reasons embittered many in the forces. That bitterness appears to linger and could lead to a division in the corps, in the event of Fidel Castro’s death or incapacitation.

  At the same time, the Cuban military, according to various sources, has not been trained to, and probably is not willing to, put down a massive uprising (at, for example, Fidel Castro’s death) with lethal force. Should Raul Castro face a massive insurrection, any orders to put the movement down could be either ignored or lead to a schism, said the study. Division in the corps may already be occurring, prompted by the comprehensive involvement of the officers, particularly friends of Raul Castro, in lucrative commercial ventures since the mid-1990s.

  In summary, Raul Castro, should he still be alive when the time comes, faces a difficult inheritance of power. Given the tensions and traditions of the Cuban corps, raising the specter of a clash with the United States could be highly expedient for Fidel Castro.

Member Comments

On May 31, 2004, publisher wrote:

Mr. Noriega,

The Free Cuba Comission report is designed to facilitate regime change in Cuba.

Since the US has been successful with regime change in Iraq and Afghanistan, it doesn’t seem to me that Fidel Castro could be called paranoid. Maybe he’ being realistic?

Also you say that confrontation will be provoked by Fidel Castro. Do you think Cuba will attack the United States?

Do you really think you are doing something to promote democracy in Cuba?

Maybe it’ time for the US to think about Plan B…something besides 40+ years of sanctions. How’ Plan A doing?

On June 04, 2004, Orlando leroy wrote:

the real paranoic stil living in the USA who believe Cuban president who is more legal than de illegal George W Bush ignoring the reality than hij put his country close to USA but with the ausent of brain in usa they dont take profit of the opening of Cuba to the world in 1993 only wanting confrontation with the cubaan who raders wil die than give their land to a invader

On June 04, 2004, Orlando leroy wrote:

the cubaan dont want confrontation wiht usa only we want respect for our country OUR country not yours so if a stupict USA president believe with sanctions of even war in Cuba wil only find more Vietnant en more worse resistenc than en irak en Vietnant together and we know who evil are the Usa only we must look teh pictures from Irak to sie what the usa tropes are able to .In cuba ONLY flower for usa dead soldiers