The Castro Bros Aren’t Feeling The Bern
Bernie Sanders is about 50 years out of date, and his primary adherents are 20 somethings whose life experiences would barely trouble a thimble. The Case of the Idiot leading the Inexperienced, wasn't that a Perry Mason case? Even the Castro brothers have moved on from this defunct economic model.
"A huge U.S. delegation of officials, led by President Barack Obama, visited Cuba for the first presidential visit since the Coolidge years. The Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor and slew of less exalted officials were all in the entourage—an eyebrow-raising focus on Cuba, especially for an administration that says the U.S. should be pivoting away from Europe and the Middle East because they don’t matter so much anymore." I don't think "less" is the word you are looking for, perchance, "more would be better suited?"
Ah, the clever pivot to Cuba, do they have golf? Because they would explain things. Yes, I do think this was necessary and long overdue, but it did not warrant a Presidential visit, although a visit by this President does cap the seriousness of Cuba in American foreign policy. The least serious President in American history somehow gets Cuba correct, accidentally, and doubles down by visiting. Brilliant.
"Obama’s visit is more about the liquidation of Latin socialism than its triumph. With socialist parties in Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela all struggling to defend their poor economic records and corrupt politicians in the face of centrist opponents, Latin America isn’t feeling the Bern these days."
Add Cuba to the list, this policy change will secure positive change in Cuba which the Brothers Castro may want, but will not be able to control. The tidal currents of this change will eventually do to Cuba what similar currents did to each of these other antediluvian socialist tyrannies.
"The Cubans understand what is happening in Venezuela very well. Not only do they have close intelligence links with Caracas, it was the realization that Venezuela could no longer prop up Cuba that led the Castro brothers to accept the opening with the U.S. in the first place.
As nobody knows better than the Castro brothers, Cuban socialism has never worked without a sugar daddy. From 1959 to 1989 the Soviet Union kept Cuba afloat. Things turned ugly in Cuba when communism collapsed in Moscow, and only the intervention of Hugo Chavez in then-rich Venezuela turned things around. Now socialism has burned through Venezuela’s bank account, and the Venezuelan regime is struggling to feed its own people. Continuing to bail out Havana? Not really an option any more."
But the US is not a sugar daddy, it is an economic colossus, which has proven a difficult ride for even the most adept.
"Given that the collapse of the Latin Left is the basis of Cuba’s openness to Washington, President Obama should be probing to see whether the Cubans are willing to help clean up the mess that socialism is leaving in its wake. What President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and Susan Rice should be asking President Castro is how the Cuban government can help broker a transition back to some kind of workable system in Venezuela. Will Cuba, in exchange for U.S. help climbing out of its own economic dead end, help the U.S. ensure a stable transition in Venezuela?"
While this is an excellent idea, and the Castro's are exactly the ones to make the offer, I cannot see President Feckless ODither pulling the trigger, or indeed, even understanding the opportunity. He is more likely to ride this win around the corral a few hundred times, while pointing out that he won the election, and got Osama. But then he does surprise me on occasion, rarely, but on occasion.
"If Cuba is willing to be genuinely helpful in this matter, there is a lot it can do. Cuba helped build the dysfunctional thugocracy that now calls itself the government of Venezuela, and Cuba could do a lot to help Caracas move back toward some kind of reality-based politics. The Castro brothers could provide ideological cover for a retreat to realism, and if the U.S. and Cubans worked together, we could significantly increase the odds of a peaceful transition to a workable political system in an important neighbor.
In their closing years in power the Castro brothers seem to have acknowledged that the socialist model doesn’t offer a way out for the Latin world. The question is whether they are willing to play a constructive role in helping to bury the corpse. President Obama, given his own history, is going to be the most sympathetic interlocutor the brothers can hope for in Washington; he won’t rub their noses in the failure of their hopes the way a President Rubio or Cruz would. If they are willing to close out their careers on a note of responsible statesmanship, this is the best chance they have to get that done. And, frankly, if that is the course they choose to follow, we wish them success.
This may be—indeed it probably is—too much to hope. The Castros know that socialism has failed Latin America, but they may not be ready to act constructively on that belief. Their motives in opening the door to American tourists and trade, and their rationale for allowing the Obama state visit are probably nothing more than regime survival. While they suspect that the opening to the U.S. will end up transforming Cuba in ways that will ultimately bring the Castro era to an end, they know that only U.S. tourism, trade, and perhaps investment can provide the hard currency needed to keep the Castro flag flying for a few more years. Certainly, the harsh and unnecessary treatment of dissidents, arresting Elizardo Sanchez, closing down a peaceful march by the Ladies in White, shows that control over Cuba is still what matters most to the communist leaders. The signal to Cubans was not only that the brothers remain firmly in charge, it was also to humiliate Obama, to kick sand in his face."
This is excellent analysis. Hopefully, we are seeing the end of the tyranny of socialism in the Americas. While I am hopeful, the history of the region does not support much optimism. I will also remain hopeful that the President has seen, understands, and is capable of negotiating these issues. Only time will tell.