The Fabulous Castro Boys

Wall Street Opinion Journal August 2, 2006

All about Raúl, ruthless and reformer?

To outlive one’s enemies is said to be a kind of revenge. This would explain the big, noisy party on Calle Ocho in Miami Monday night when Cuba announced that Fidel Castro was undergoing emergency intestinal surgery for hemorrhaging and had passed power to his 75-year-old brother Raúl.

Whether Fidel is sick, dead or only merely testing the response of Cuba’s military and political elite to the anointing of Raúl is still not clear. El Maximo Lider did qualify the power transfer as “temporary.” But the old man turns 80 on August 13 and even he won’t live forever. The most likely scenario is that we are now watching preparations for a transition of Cuban power not seen for 47 years.

Fidel is not only the longest-reigning dictator in the history of the modern world; he is also the archetype of the paranoid communist micromanager. He is known to be ruthless, insecure and distrustful, to the point of executing ideological allies suspected of disloyalty. He has also been obsessed with anti-Americanism for more than a half-century. If Cubans are malnourished and the country resembles a rundown 1950s’ museum, so be it. Fidel has been more interested in his legacy as the revolutionary who stood up to the imperialists. The odd admiration for his handiwork among many on the U.S. left–he may be a dictator but the health care is good!–is a mystery of our time.

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