The appointment of a new president in Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, sixty years after the island’s socialist revolution, feels like a turning point.
Once anointed by the 605-strong National Assembly as Cuba’s first non-Castro president in decades, Díaz-Canel vowed to modernize the economy and make government more responsive to its people.
What does the change mean in practice?
Not having a Castro, neither Fidel (1976-08) nor Raúl (2008-18), as leader carries with it great symbolism for sure. For the first time in many years, the powerful roles of president and head of the Communist Party are no longer combined. (Raúl remains party leader for three years.) But the Castro years weren’t quite as monolithic as they are sometimes portrayed and the next few years are unlikely to see a turnaround. Read more “With the Castros Gone, Is Change Afoot in Cuba?”
The alliance between Cuba and Venezuela has lost prominence in recent years as the former normalized its diplomatic relations with the United States while the latter doubled down on a self-described anti-imperialist policy.
Now Donald Trump’s presidency threatens to bring the two countries closer together again.
Trump, who assumed power last week, has pledged to reverse the Cuba policy of his predecessor “unless the Castro regime meets our demands”.
Rex Tillerson, Trump’s secretary of state and the former boss of ExxonMobil, has an acrimonious history when it comes to Venezuela.
There are few leaders who inspire the kind of irrational passion that surrounds the recently-deceased Fidel Castro. He is a hero and a villain and to have an opinion on him so often forces you to choose between the two.
But there is another way to judge leadership. To understand Castro’s true historical legacy, we should think of him geopolitically.
That means setting aside moral judgements, which rely on evidence that’s so readily cherrypicked, and pushing past propaganda to look not on Castro’s intentions or his personality but his geopolitical outcomes.
All leaders who are judged in such a manner must therefore pass a basic question: How much did they secure their nations and/or states and for how long can their methods work?
Security, of course, should break down as both physical security from invasion and rebellion as well as economic and social security from recessions, poverty and unrest. We are asking, in essence, about how well a leader used their ever-limited power to strengthen their nation state.
Such strengthening goes beyond mere morality, because murder is murder and always wrong in the eyes of the ethicist. But to murder someone who might corrupt or weaken a nation state is wise geopolitical policy. After all, it’s hard to argue that murdering Adolf Hitler in 1931 would have weakened Germany. Read more “The Rational Person’s Guide to Fidel Castro”
Cuba admitted that the ship that was stopped last week as it headed into the Panama Canal carried what it described as obsolete weapons systems that were due to be repaired in North Korea.
Panamanian authorities held the vessel after they were tipped off there might be drugs on board. Instead, they found what looked like missiles hidden under a cargo of sugar, Panama’s president Ricardo Martinelli said on Tuesday. “That is not allowed. The Panama canal is a canal of peace, not war,” he told a local radio station.
North Korea is prohibited under international sanctions from importing weapons that it might use to advance its nuclear program. “Shipments of arms or related materiel to and from Korea would violate Security Council resolutions, three of them as a matter of fact,” said the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, Rosemary DiCarlo, who chairs the Security Council this month.
Russia hopes to establish another naval base abroad and is eying Cuba, the Seychelles and Vietnam as possible locations, the country’s naval chief was quoted as saying on Friday.
Vice Admiral Viktor Chirkov, the commander-in-chief of the Russian navy, told the RIA Novosti news agency, “It’s true that we are continuing work on providing the navy with basing outside the Russian Federation.”
Russia’s only foreign maritime base at present is situated in Tartus, Syria in the Eastern Mediterranean. Although the facility is limited in scope, preserving it is seen as a reason for Russia to support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad despite international condemnation of the brutal crackdown of dissent that he has orchestrated in Syria for the last seventeen months.