Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Change of Course in Cuba and Venezuela?

STRATFOR has a prominent analytical piece on Cuba and Venezuela’s economic and security interdependence, and their relations with the United States in its Geopolitical Weekly column written by the company’s founder and CEO George Friedman:
Strange statements are coming out of Cuba these days. Fidel Castro, in the course of a five-hour interview in late August, reportedly told Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and Julia Sweig of the Council on Foreign Relations that “the Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore.”
Once that statement hit the headlines, Castro backtracked. Dressed in military uniform for the first time in four years (which we suspect was his way of signaling that he was not abandoning the revolution), he delivered a rare, 35-minute speech Sept. 3 to students at the University of Havana. In addition to spending several minutes on STRATFOR’s Iran analysis, Castro addressed his earlier statement on the Cuban model, saying he was “accurately quoted but misinterpreted” and suggesting that the economic model doesn’t work anymore but that the revolution lives on.
Castro, now 84, may be old, but he still seems to have his wits about him. We don’t know whether he was grossly misinterpreted by the reporter during the earlier interview, was acknowledging the futility of the Cuban model and/or was dropping hints of a policy shift. Regardless of what he did or did not say, Castro’s reported statement on the weakness of the revolution was by no means revolutionary.
Read the rest of this entry »
The transportation division of hotel chain corporation Gaviota (managed by Cuba’s Armed Forces Ministry—MINFAR) is also reducing its labor force by laying off 153 drivers, who are retired military. [CUBANET] (H/T @emilioichikawa)
20 September 2010 at 1538 by Armando F. Mastrapa 3d | No comments
Mark Galeotti, academic chairman of NYU’s Center for Global Affairs and an expert in transnational organized crime, wrote an article on organized crime in Cuba entitled “Forward to the Past: Organized Crime and Cuba’s History, Present and Future,” for the journal Trends in Organized Crime (Volume 9, Number 3, 45-60).
Take notice of Galeotti’s point on the effect of a regime collapse:
Cuba is also beginning to suffer from both domestic drug abuse and the first indications of organized criminality at home. This is very limited compared with the strength of Cuban-American organized crime in the United States, but does open up the prospect of these groups exploiting any weaknesses in Cuba to reestablish operations on the island. Although it is possible that the revolutionary regime might survive Castro, at the very least it will experience a turbulent transition, one in which power politics will divert attention from the problem of growing crime. Were the Cuban Communist Party to fall, either to a democratic revolution or a military coup, then either way this would probably generate increased domestic organized crime and open up the country even more rapidly to international criminal influences. Perhaps the final tragedy of the revolutionary regime, born out of a rejection of authoritarian rule and rampant organized crime, is that it will have proven to lay the foundations for an even more dynamic and voracious criminalization of Cuba.
His analysis also includes Cuba’s trafficking nexus, criminal market, and offshore criminal zone.
Galeotti’s aptly describes the future of criminalization on the island:
Castro’s death could open up Cuba once again to become a “free criminal zone,” run either by corrupted descendants of the present regime or a new, post-revolutionary one. This could have a far more dangerous impact on the United States. Just as during the Cold War, the island’s proximity meant that it was regarded as a potential military and ideological beachhead for communist in the Western hemisphere, so to the presence of a criminalized Cuba could represent a serious law-enforcement and security challenge.
Almost any scenario for the future carries with it severe dangers. It may collapse and be replaced by a democratizing regime—while a welcome development, this is likely to mean a rapid and uncontrolled marketization, throwing open great opportunities for organized crime.

No comments: