The Battle for Cuba
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A Cuba without Fidel Castro does not automatically translate into freedom for the tropical island gulag. For almost five decades, Cuba has been a symbol of anti-American hostility, and a welcomed international supporter of terror networks and states supporting terror. Powerful forces within and outside of Cuba have extensive interests in maintaining the present regime, and it is uncertain to what lengths they will go to insure its survival.
The announcement that Fidel's "younger" brother, Raul - age 75, has temporarily assumed control of the Cuba has caused many experts in and out of the U.S. government to speculate about how the island could become a free nation. Some believe that Raul the pragmatist has succeeded Fidel the Marxist ideologue. The hope is that Raul will loosen communism's grip, and seek U.S. aid to strengthen the persistently anemic Cuban economy.
At least that is the hope, but not all want to see an end to the communist regime. There are die-hards on the island who can be expected to fight any liberalization and are ready to stage a guerrilla war a la Fidel in the mountains on the island.
Fidel Castro and his brother Raul - Chieftain
The most powerful forces that are ready to keep Cuba enslaved, however, are off the island.
Fidel's major legacy is the president/would-be-dictator of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, who sees North Korea as a model for his nation, believes Che Guevara is a hero for all humanity, and considers the United States the "most savage, cruel empire in the history of the world."
Oil-rich Venezuela is subsidizing the Cuban economy, and any shift to reality-based economics would lead to the shut-off of the Venezuelan money machine. Any Cuban leader who offends Chavez faces the possibility of sudden economic disaster. Only the intervention of the United States with many millions of dollars of immediate assistance could guarantee the survival of a non-communist or transitional Cuban government.
Venezuela's military buildup is intended to put teeth in Chavez's promise to defend the Cuban revolution. State-of-the-art fighter planes, helicopters, and assault rifles are beginning to flow from Russia into Venezuela.
Venezuela's pledge to assist the Cuban communist regime fits neatly into Moscow's foreign policy which considers Havana as a "key" ally in the region.
China's interests on the island would be seriously threatened by any substantial change in Cuba's government. Not only does China have substantial economic and military links with Cuba, but also Beijing has a large investment in its electronic espionage facilities in Cuba, especially at the Bejucal base.
A free government in Cuba could lead to very embarrassing revelations concerning China's anti-U.S. intelligence operations in Cuba.
Marxist guerrillas in the region can also be counted on to attempt to render aid to Cuba's communist regime if it begins to falter at the hands of reformers. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a powerful Marxist rebel army financed by drugs, murder, and kidnapping has already declared its readiness fight in support of the Chavez regime if the United States would attempt to liberate Venezuela. The FARC, which already has a close relationship with Cuba, would doubtlessly attempt to come to the aid of the communist Cuban regime.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, a close ally of the Cuban government, could call upon its terrorist allies to rally to the cause of the survival of the communist regime in Havana.
Within Cuba itself, any "pragmatic" reformer would face a serious challenge form the ideologues in Cuba's Communist Party, which maintains close relationship with the island's military establishment. The link between the Party and the military poses a serious threat to ideological waywardness.
The promise of freedom for Cuba is bright, but the fulfillment of the promise will not be easy. The forces of enslavement are stronger than generally acknowledged…
And we must be stronger than them.
Posted August 25, 2006
Toby Westerman publishes
International News Analysis - Today
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