Word on the street is that there’s 2 camps forming inside the Cuban Government — the Fidelistas vs Raulistas. There is also a bit of a clash between old thinkers and new thinkers. According to an inside source in their government, The Fidelistas (those loyal to Fidel) have now nicknamed themselves “Talibans”. Straight up. It’s important to note that this moniker was not thrust upon them…. it is a self-appointed nickname by the bullies. Kinda gangster, huh?
Not surprising since one of their Administrations favorite shows is HBO’s Sopranos (which the government decided to recently air on Communist Television April 08).
(HBO Sopranos — The King of the Capitalists airs in Cuba now)
Anyway, do you remember the early days when Fidel first retired? Back when Raul first stepped into power in 2006, replacing his older brothers post? Raul suddenly announced major reforms such as offering each Cuban citizen the right to walk into foreign hotels? Cell phones and DVD players were now legal to own. Granted, it is not easy for local Cuban to purchase these items with an estimated average salary of $15-20 a month, but nonetheless, these were radical changes in their society. Slow reform is better than no reform, right?
The whole world looked to see what other reforms Raul would announce…. and then NOTHING. Dead air. Raul was done being modern. What happened?
Word has it that the Fidelista’s bitchslapped the Raulista’s and said “no more”. Ever since then, there’s been a slow growing number of “progressives” inside the Cuban government who are also seeking change. This new faction of Cubans in the administration is coming up against pressure from their own internal “Taliban” as I explained.
One of the recent signs that Fidel is still “driving the bus” was the recent (and sudden) dismissal of Cuban Government official, Marta Lomas (Minister of Foreign Investments and Economic Assistance, MIECE). Apparently, she made some positive remarks regarding President Elect Barack Obama, which of course made Fidel freak out. Why did he freak out? Because tons of newspaper outlets picked up the positive quote. It was considered the first official reaction from the Cuban Government on the U.S. elections.
Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Commerce confirmed that Castro was pissed and (to quote an official) “What we have heard is that the Commandant was upset by that, and asked who had authorized her [Lomas] to speak for the government.”
Anyway, the proof was in the pudding since Marta was replaced 2 days after the statement. Also, 3 days after the incident, Fidel’s voice took the stage… ONCE AGAIN…. (snore)…. echoing the same paranoia ad nauseum:
“Many dream that with a simple change of command of the empire, it will become more tolerant and less warlike … The most intimate thoughts of the citizen that will take the helm of the matter are unknown yet. It would be supremely naive to believe that the good intentions of an intelligent person can change what has been created through centuries of interests and greed.” — Fidel
(Quote is from Fidel’s letter on the US Election to the G-20 meeting in Washington)
In another weird fact, Sean Penn had a meeting with Raul Castro recently. Raul explained to Penn that he still works out of his old office. Fidel’s office at the Council of State remains intact. Fidel’s Presidential chair at the Parliament has also stayed empty since he [supposedly] rescinded power in 2006. I figure it’ll be a game of big brother pushing little brother around for a little while. It’s wise for the US gov’t to stand back a second while Cuba’s top brass smoothes out their own internal struggles during this time of transition.
On another tip, there is talk that the the battle of camps is starting to take a turn. For the first time in a year, it seems the “Raulista’s” are gaining strength and we hear that arrests are being made in the government. Yeah, only in Cuba do government officials arrest each other rather than fire each other. But word has it that Raul is no longer taking it, and is growing a set of cojones to face big brother. It’ll be interesting to see Raul stand up to Fidel and make a clean sweep in the administration.
I’ve always said that we won’t truly see a “Post-Castro” administration until both brothers are out. Now I’m just a bit fascinated about these turn of events and am curious what legacy Raul will truly have in “the new day”.