Raul Castro: A Hard-Line Commie with a Soft Spot for Free Enterprise?
Raul Castro: a free enterprise-friendly Communist?
That‚Äôs how NBC‚Äôs Andrea Mitchell portrayed the 75-year old brother of
‚ÄúRaul has been in charge of the military and the economy,‚ÄĚ Mitchell explained to her audience, calling him ‚Äúpolitically hard-line but more open than his brother to free enterprise, including foreign investment.‚ÄĚ
To bolster her claim, Mitchell then aired a sound bite from William LeoGrande from
Following LeoGrande‚Äôs sound bite, Mitchell sought to contrast Castro‚Äôs supposed openness to reform with Bush administration trade policies.
‚ÄúThe Bush White House has tightened sanctions, shutting down most
But it‚Äôs not that simple, say
‚ÄúThe 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,‚ÄĚ Falcoff wrote, adding that a 90,000-barrel-a-day oil deal with Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez ‚Äúhas reinforced this trend.‚ÄĚ
Resale of surplus Venezuelan oil, about 40,000 barrels-a-day, yields a reliable supply of ‚Äúhard currency‚ÄĚ for the Cuban regime, Falcoff noted.
Cato Institute‚Äôs Ian Vazquez agreed. In an August 1 press release the libertarian think tank‚Äôs director for the Project on Global Economic Liberty forecasted that while eventually it would prove ‚Äúdifficult to hold Cuban socialism together‚ÄĚ that ‚ÄúCuba has a financial benefactor interested in propping up socialism ‚Äď Venezuela.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs a pragmatist. I don‚Äôt think by any means he‚Äôs been convinced that free markets are better, but rather that to some degree private investment and markets can help sustain him,‚ÄĚ Vasquez said of Raul in an interview with the Business & Media Institute.
What‚Äôs more, said Vasquez, Raul Castro‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúTo some degree private investment and markets can help sustain him. So that is the area in which he‚Äôs willing to compromise on some socialist principles but not because he‚Äôs somehow been convinced about the virtues of [the free] market,‚ÄĚ Vasquez said.