http://havanajournal.com/politics/entry/raul-castro-absent-from-public-view-in-cuba-for-three-weeks/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

RAUL Castro absent from public view in Cuba for three weeks

Posted September 11, 2008 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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The Associated Press

The day after Hurricane Gustav roared through western Cuba, families were salvaging belongings from their flattened homes when state-television cameras turned up.

Storm victims posing among the rubble soon began chanting “Fidel! Fidel!” Nearly a half-minute went by before anyone realized they were forgetting the man who replaced Fidel Castro as Cuba’s president six months ago.

“And Raul! And Raul!” someone yelled. Then came a revised chant: “Fidel and Raul!”

It was an easy mistake, considering the 77-year-old Raul Castro has not addressed the nation or appeared in public during the past three weeks — even though a tropical storm and two monster hurricanes have battered the island over the same period.

Tropical Storm Fay crashed ashore near the Bay of Pigs on Aug. 17, two weeks before Gustav slammed into the west, damaging at least 100,000 homes and crippling industry, food production and infrastructure. Then Hurricane Ike hit eastern Cuba on Sunday, killing five people, damaging at least 200,000 homes and forcing nearly a fourth of the population to evacuate as it moved nearly the length of the island before moving into the Gulf of Mexico.

Rather than tour the hardest-hit areas after each storm, Raul has dispatched vice presidents and army generals. Instead of a televised address, he has appeared only in a few shots, speaking by phone to officials in devastated areas and presiding over a closed-door meeting of civil defense leaders as they prepared for Ike in Havana.

His hands-off style is a far cry from that of Fidel Castro, who was fond of jumping in a jeep and following storms to see the damage and greeting the victims in person. The elder Castro often gave long speeches after hurricanes and appeared on government TV before they hit, quizzing Cuba’s top meteorologist for hours about computer models and possible storm paths.

The ailing, 82-year-old Fidel has not appeared in public since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006. He continues to release newspaper columns every few days, however, and has written about the recent storms, noting that Gustav left parts of western Cuba looking like they were hit by an atomic blast.

Raul’s low profile has not been lost on Cubans.

“I think Raul should go out and see the victims,” a maintenance worker named Tomas said as he cleared debris from the damaged roof of a building in El Florida, a town in central Cuba where Ike washed out rows of sugar cane.

Referring to the 1959 rebel uprising that brought the Castro brothers to power, he added: “This revolution is good, but we need Raul to be in charge of it.”

The man declined to give his full name, saying he feared to be identified as having publicly criticized the government.

Another El Florida resident, Magdalena Gonzalez, defended the communist government, saying that thanks to policies under the Castros, storms that kill hundreds in other poor countries claim almost no lives here. Cuban officials routinely and effectively mobilize mass storm evacuations on the island, sending police and soldiers door-to-door to enforce compliance.

“We have a civil defense system that protects us,” said Gonzalez, a 66-year-old retired teacher who took in two elderly neighbors during the storm.

Nevertheless, others complained that Raul Castro’s government has not done enough to help those left homeless by Ike.

“With so much damage everywhere in the country, they haven’t done anything to help Las Delicias,” said Maria Gomez, referring to her city in the eastern province of Las Tunas. “No support has arrived, no food.”

Member Comments

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On September 11, 2008, publisher wrote:

Is it just me or does anyone else think that something is wrong.

Sure we know Raul doesn’t like speaking in public but not making personal appearances in rural towns that have been flattened by two major hurricanes?

Can’t he at least go out and lie to people and tell them that the Revolution will save them and that Fidel sends his love and that this would have never happened if it weren’t for the Embargo?

Can’t he tell them about the evil empire’s hurricane machine and how this is an attack by the US on poor old Cuba?

C’mon. Where’s Raul. Getting to the bottom of another bottle? Raul, I though you were going to be this great leader allowing people to have cellphones and stay in hotels and have private taxis? Where are you Raul?

I don’t think Raul knows what to do since there really isn’t anything he can do. He knows Cuba doesn’t have the resources to fix 850 houses a day as was reported.

He knows that only a good liar like Fidel Castro can bullshit the Cuban people into happiness and security. So, Raul isn’t even going to try I guess.

Also, the tourist areas like Cayo Largo and Guardalavaca must be wiped out. Now what? Does Raul repair and re-build the hotels before helping the farmers?

What a mess. This could be the BIG ONE folks. People MUST be pissed off in Cuba now and maybe Raul is absent because he is dying.

VERY interesting times for Cuba. Unfortunately for the Cuban people of course but maybe now they will realize that there is no Cuban government there to save them and lie to them to make them happy and secure.

Not even Fidel can save the Cuban government this time?

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On September 11, 2008, humberto rodriguez wrote:

Bien dicho publisher havana journal,la sarta de mentiras de 49 years al fin les mordio el tracero.hoy manana,o despues Cuba sera libre de los castros. con hermanito o sin hermanito de esta no se salvan , la cruda realidad es un sistema de mentiras si una verdad real como esta realida de boch aqui. VIVA CUBA LIBRE Gracias.de estar en un pais libre ESTADOS UNIDOS DE AMERICA.Votemos por Obama nov 7 por nuestra querida America.

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On September 11, 2008, publisher wrote:

Another thing.

Fidel released a statement that hurricane Gustav hit Cuba like a nuclear bomb.

I have not seen one statement released from Fidel. Not even some lies telling people that everything will be all right so long as they just believe in La Revolucion.

If Gustav was a nuclear bomb, what was Ike?

Fidel, care to say anything?

Hello, anybody in there?

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On September 11, 2008, publisher wrote:

I’d be hiding too.

Photo gallery of AP photos from hurricane Ike.