Though the death of Fidel Castro doesn’t signal the beginning of a democratic capitalistic government in Cuba, it does put the smell of something different in the air, and just as the feel and smell of an incoming storm generates excitement, the feel and smell of the proximity of democracy in Cuba does likewise. Fidel wisely passed the mantle of leadership to his brother in 2008, realizing that he was on the downhill slide. Just as Hillary Clinton would have been a rubber stamp for Barack Obama, Fidel at least hoped Raul would be the same for him.
Nothing will change in the very near future, but still, that smell of excitement, like the scent of blood in the water, will fuel a desire for change. The desire will come from the people, and though it won’t necessarily be a desire for democracy, it will definitely be a desire for capitalism and the freedom to earn a decent living.
America today has an opportunity to influence the direction of change in Cuba. Raul Castro’s influence in his country will be nothing like that of his stronger brother. For one thing, Raul led a lifestyle that was an anathema to Fidel and according to sources, the conflict between the two was heated at times, some say even to the point of violence between them. More than one reliable source in Cuba has pointed out that Raul was bisexual and took little pains to hide his lifestyle.Since Fidel was known for gleefully executing folks like that, this obviously placed a bit of a strain on their sibling relationship.
Additionally, Raul just never had the “rebel” fervor, and never experienced the romance of revolution like Fidel and Fidel’s ideological twin, Che Guevara. It is safe to say that Fidel’s death leaves a vast “ideological” vacuum in Cuba. It is also safe to assume that Raul, free now to pursue any lifestyle he chooses without fear of condemnation from big brother, just may be feeling a bit of relief. The vacuum, however, will soon be filled by either the United States or Russia. The United States has, by far, the strongest cards to play, but to be successful must act swiftly.
Many outsiders don’t understand that while all the people of Cuba have been economically depressed under Fidel’s leadership; (the medium yearly income is around $2,500). Cuba’s black population has suffered the most. Those who idolize and romanticize Fidel and Che are either ignorant of, or simply ignore the fact, that the two of them were extremely racially prejudiced and saw black people as unworthy of any consideration whatsoever. Che wrote often about how in his opinion, black people were ignorant, lazy and beyond hope as productive members of any culture. Fidel and Che shared a deep animosity and disrespect for most minorities for that matter. Americans who wear the “Che” T-shirts are also ignorant of the fact that he, (Che) shared Fidel’s hatred of homosexuals as well. The American left never let the truth get in the way of a cool looking T-shirt.
In light of the fact Raul will most likely not be strong enough, nor willing to step up to be a dictatorial-type leader the likes of Fidel, and will therefore be unable or unwilling to further or strengthen the government rule that Fidel, even in his infirmity was able to maintain, the people ofCuba are going to rally and choose their future, to a great extent. It is highly unlikely they will embrace a continuation of the ‘$2,500 per year’ lifestyle.
Another serious issue relating to Fidel’s death is the effect the potential spread of capitalism in the region would have on communist and left-leaning governments of countries like Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina. A capitalist success story in Cuba would shake up some influential leaders down there. America and democracy however, would benefit greatly.
America could easily provide the impetus for such a change in the region. Russia, having shown signs of attempted strengthening of the relationship with Cuba, can’t compete with the United States in bringing economic progress to the country, and, as long as the Cuban people have the opportunity, or seize the opportunity to have a say in the future of Cuba, they will almost certainty choose to align more strongly with America. This is where strong decisive leadership comes in.
President Barack Obama made the same mistake US leaders before him made; He appealed to the leadership of the country. Offering outside solutions and /or progress for the people, to leaders who think this way is futile. The future of Cuba lies squarely in the hands of the people, not the leadership.
America today has a president-elect who understands this and understands the importance and the value of the economic incentive. He also understands how money is made and understands how an “atmosphere and lifestyle” in which people have the ability to improve their lives, is created. He is, additionally, surrounding himself with advisors who understand how to export this ability to nations like Cuba.
Cuba needs an economic “insurgency,” and Donald Trump is the leader to light that fire. All of the ingredients are present with the death of Fidel Castro. Raul is not as committed to the hardline communist ideology. Even Fidel admitted some months ago that things were not working as he had envisioned in Cuba so many years ago. The zeal for military control and economic pressure on the people may still be there, but it is waning.
The desire for a better life has always been present among the people of Cuba. The knowledge that Cuba as it is today — and has been for generations — would never offer anything approximating a stable economic future for the average man and his family has for decades been evident in the number of people willing to risk death to flee that country. Today, there is a glimmer of hope.
Donald Trump is perfectly placed to renegotiate the agreement with Cuba, mandating that Raul allow for American fueled development and investment, and requiring the majority of the economic benefit of such go directly to the people. The Cuban infrastructure is in dire need of repair and replacement. Tourism and infrastructure improvements are specialties of the Trump empire.
The American people need to give Donald Trump the freedom and support to renegotiate the normalization treaty, setting the mandates on Cuba that he sees fit, and allow him to call upon the most appropriate individuals to do the job, even if these individuals are associated with the Trump corporation. If Donald Trump can work a miracle in Cuba that results in a strong ally for America and, at the same time, eliminates any possibility of renewed ties to Russia, he should have all our support and encouragement. As long as the profits are legally derived and the lives of the people of Cuba are improved exponentially, we shouldn’t care what American companies reap the benefit. America itself, and the American people, will reap a much greater benefit in the form of a strong, stable, reliable ally in Cuba.
The spark of resistance has been lit — over the next few months and years it will continue to grow, despite the efforts of the last of the Fidel bitter-enders. This, and the fact the “post-Castro” desire to continue oppression and control over the populace is diminishing defines an era in which aneconomic insurgency, fueled by the business acumen of President Donald Trump, could very well turn the tide in Cuba, and, sooner rather than later.
Contributing Writer Godfrey Garner is a veteran special operations counterintelligence officer who retired from US Special Forces in 2006. He served two military tours and six civilian government related tours in Afghanistan. His work there most recently was as a counter-corruption analyst. He’s author of, Danny Kane and the Hunt for Mullah Omar, and, The Balance of Exodus.