Tuesday, February 19, 2008

today : 70 miles away, but no cigar

Castro's retirement this week is proof, if any were needed, that nobody is immortal. And that rigid ideologies are most often personality cults.

Cuba is another area of the world that interests me. Castro was the last dictator, or the last one who didn't send his country on the fast lane to violebce, mass executions, hyper inflation and craziness just because he was power mad.

And oddly, there seem to be plenty of people who quite like him. I think partly this is because he has an impressive and rather iconic beard, but also his (only scantly successful) revolution was geographically so close to the USA yet stood up to and ridiculed it. Castro also seems ot have a decent sense of satire, evidenced by his offer to send election monitors to Florida in November 2000. People instinctively like the little guy facing down the big guy.

I also think there is a lyricism and romanticism about images of Cuba. All that crumbling opulence makes for cool photos. The Hemingway-esque combination of rum, coffee and a perfect Partagas Maduro cigar rolled on the thighs of a dusky maiden in a patched up Summer dress. Swarthy gaucho types who can really dance. They make poverty seem nothing short of glamorous.

Anyway, my real point is that I have never understood the American embargo. It would be almost impossible to sustain a Marxist revolution on such a small island with relatively scarce resources if the might of the American free-trade machine was bearing down on it. It's obvious.

America has been stuck in the embargo/sanctions mode for as long as I can remember and it just hasn't worked. Not only has it failed to topple or even moderate the Revolutionary Regime, but has driven it into the arms of every other Marxist/Socialist dictatorship/country from Uganda to Venezuela. This has only emboldened the tin pot regimes that Cuba has allied with, and Cuba itself.

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