Friday, August 04, 2006

CUBA, Castro Corpse Watch: Where's Raul? Fidel's Freaky Friday UPDATED

Fidel And Loathing In La Habana


UPDATE: Spain's El Mundo in this story quotes José Ramón Balaguer, the Cuban Health Minister, and part of the inner core of about 6 or 7 loyalists around Raul Castro, as saying that Fidel Castro is "recovering satisfactorily" from his operation, and should "recover soon." He happens to be in Guatemala, and did not give any further information.

Exile and former Castro friend Norberto Fuentes, says in his blog, that a good source in Havana told him that Fidel is recuperating. According to the same source he was operated in the Government Palace itself, where a modern operating room has been set up. Raul Castro has apparently made the rounds in the city in his motorcade.

ABC From Spain says Cuba Nervously Faces Third Day Without News of Castro Brothers

Granma's headlines screamed "Combat Forces Are Ready to Defend Us", and an entire inside page was an article on the modernization, increased combat effectiveness aned other improvements of the military. Dissidents are being pressured.

The article also says that the regime's vigilance has incresed, "very discreetly."
Cubans themselves, seem to be the only ones who can pick out civilian dressed security personnel. Larger weapons were also seen being taken inside a military building. Police who normally patrol in two's, are now in "groups of three". Ministry of Interior forces also patrolling the street.

There is still an official quiet about Fidel and Raul, but the piece points out that even in normal times the agenda of the leadership is rarely announced.

But still there is nervousness, within the "tone of some functionaries". In the words of one quoted: "Some groups wait for his dath for other reasons, but they also fear that there be revenge and disturbances." The unnamed analyst also says there are official Cuban government studies that showed that in a transition there might be some violence.

Dissident economist, Oscar Espinosa Chepe, says "there is a tense calm, in the streets you see less people, but it is true that it is vacation time, but people are ansxious because there is not enough information from the State."

Bush Talks
Bush calls for "Cubans to work for democracy on the island, saying the United States would support them in their efforts", according to this Miami Herald article,
I encourage all democratic nations to unite in support of the right of the Cuban people to define a democratic future for their country,'' Bush added. ``I urge the Cuban people to work for democratic change on the island.''Bush, reiterating statements made by the administration in the past, also said the United States will ``take note of those, in the current Cuban regime, who obstruct your desire for a free Cuba.'

Cuban Response To Bush. El Mundo Quotes Granma and titles its story, Cuban Government Says Transition is Not In Governments Vocabulary, Granma Says

"Flotillas are ready to go to Cuba," from the same article. Leaders of the Miami-based Democracy Movement, which "has led flotillas from Miami in an attempt to reach Cuba for more than a decade," announced said they would be ready to leave in as little as three days. Ramón Saúl Sanchez, said that "Cuban exiles have the right to return to the island. What's more, he says he'll return, with or without the permission of President Bush."

Intelligence Failure? U.S. is in the dark about what is going on in Havana. Castro's security measures keep out information from the regime. Part of that intelligence failure is because of the cutbacks after the end of the Cold War, Cuba fell of the priority map.

First-hand Accounts
from recent visitors to Cuba, say Fear and Tension Take Hold Of Cuba

The Rocky Road To Freedom: The Guardian Interviews Dissident Osvaldo Paya. Says there can not be violence.

This older, but relevant item from the Conservative Lexington Institute, about the transition, and the problems that the U.S. might face.

Weird Granma
While Castroite media blasted the exile's celebration in Miami - obviously the news filtered through by the many people have satellite dishes - officialist media also:
The Communist Party newspaper Granma published an odd item on its front page Thursday, a no-headline box with simply two paragraphs of previously reported quotes from a Raúl Castro speech during a military ceremony on July 1.
''The special trust that the people grant to the founding leader of a revolution is not transmitted, as though it were an inheritance, to those who in the future occupy the principal jobs in the direction of the country,'' he said.
''I repeat what I have affirmed on many occasions: the commander in chief of the Cuban revolution is one, and only the Communist Party . . . can be the proper inheritor of that trust,'' he added.


No Mojitos In El Malecon, Big Party Cancelled

La Havana's Big Carnaval is cancelled, an analyst quoted from the ABC article above says "it is probably because the government doesn't want situations it can not control." ABC continues to say that "in these parties, which the population awaits each year, thousands of Havana residents attend and rum and beer sold in national currency, flows" to the point where more than one [party-goer]loses control."


Ricardo Alarcon in this interview granted to the Guardian, says he thinks the U.S. will invade, in addition to his usual bla, bla, bla.

Raul, Again
A left-wing take on Raul, Richard Gott, says that the party line and the view of many serious Cuba watchers is that the " brother takes over, together with the team at the top that has been running the country for the past decade or so."

Some say that he was always closer to the Cuban Communist party than Fidel was, and he was certainly the man who watched over the Cuban-Soviet relationship when the two countries were in a tight military alliance. Fidel may have handled the grand strategy, but it was Raúl who looked after the nuts and bolts.

Raúl also has a good, though unofficial working relationship with various official US institutions, including the US coastguards and the drugs agency.


Finally,

Hear For Yourself the message from Castro's personal bit...I mean secretary.