Castro steps down; US moves to prop up new regime
Well, that ought to be the headline on today's coverage of Fidel Castro permanently giving up his role as Cuba's president. President Bush, traipsing around Africa with an entourage that puts any Roman emperor to shame, took time out to offer up this oh-so-predictable reaction:
"The international community should work with the Cuban
people to begin to build institutions that are necessary for a
democracy, and eventually this transition ought to lead to free and
fair elections," he told reporters in Rwanda.
"And we're going to help. The United States will help the people of Cuba realise the blessings of liberty."
Translation: The embargo stays in place until anyone even remotely associated with the Castro regime is put out to sea on a raft — unless they get the Ceausescu treatment first.
The embargo is both a tragedy and an outrage. Castro stayed in power for 49 years in part because he could use the embargo as an excuse for his own pathetic economy — distracting Cubans from the disaster of his socialist policies by railing against the big, bad U.S.
And yet, the embargo persists… because both political parties in our country remain in thrall to a tiny group of ideologues who purport to speak for an entire ethnic group, and yet are completely unrepresentative of that group — certainly not its younger members, anyway.
One of the great lessons of the 20th Century is utterly lost on our political leadership — that it was increased trade and cultural exchange with the West that helped to bring down the Soviet bloc. People behind the Iron Curtain began to see what was possible outside the limited scope of their own experience. Lift the embargo, and the whole rotten edifice of Communist rule in Cuba would be history within five years.
But as it is, we'll have a seamless transition from one Castro brother to another… and when Raul's time is up, to whatever thug is next in the line of succession.