Raul Castro: A Hard-Line Commie with a Soft Spot for Free Enterprise?
Raul Castro: a free enterprise-friendly Communist?
Thatâ€™s how NBCâ€™s Andrea Mitchell portrayed the 75-year old brother of
â€śRaul has been in charge of the military and the economy,â€ť Mitchell explained to her audience, calling him â€śpolitically hard-line but more open than his brother to free enterprise, including foreign investment.â€ť
To bolster her claim, Mitchell then aired a sound bite from William LeoGrande from
Following LeoGrandeâ€™s sound bite, Mitchell sought to contrast Castroâ€™s supposed openness to reform with Bush administration trade policies.
â€śThe Bush White House has tightened sanctions, shutting down most
But itâ€™s not that simple, say
â€śThe revenue stream produced by an opening to foreign tourism a decade ago has encouraged the regime to withdraw many of the modest concessions to the market it made in extremis,â€ť Falcoff wrote, adding that a 90,000-barrel-a-day oil deal with Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez â€śhas reinforced this trend.â€ť
Resale of surplus Venezuelan oil, about 40,000 barrels-a-day, yields a reliable supply of â€śhard currencyâ€ť for the Cuban regime, Falcoff noted.
Cato Instituteâ€™s Ian Vazquez agreed. In an August 1 press release the libertarian think tankâ€™s director for the Project on Global Economic Liberty forecasted that while eventually it would prove â€śdifficult to hold Cuban socialism togetherâ€ť that â€śCuba has a financial benefactor interested in propping up socialism â€“ Venezuela.â€ť
â€śHeâ€™s a pragmatist. I donâ€™t think by any means heâ€™s been convinced that free markets are better, but rather that to some degree private investment and markets can help sustain him,â€ť Vasquez said of Raul in an interview with the Business & Media Institute.
Whatâ€™s more, said Vasquez, Raul Castroâ€™s acceptance of economic reforms can be explained by his desire for personal enrichment, not an openness to allow private ownership of capital and liberalized markets.
â€śTo some degree private investment and markets can help sustain him. So that is the area in which heâ€™s willing to compromise on some socialist principles but not because heâ€™s somehow been convinced about the virtues of [the free] market,â€ť Vasquez said.