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Is Cuba Next?

- Abstract

deepest crisis of its history. Deprived of subsidized oil and foodstuffs from the former Eastern bloc, and no longer able to sell its sugar at above-market prices, the island is approaching economic free fall. As the New York Times reported earlier this year, “even common goods like soap, rum, and cooking oil have become rare luxuries.” Rations of meat and other sources of protein have been cut repeatedly. And Cubans are now forced to wait in line for virtually all consumer goods, the supply and variety of which—again, to quote the Times—“never rich, have become scanty.”

Nonetheless, Castro’s grip on power seems unshaken—and by all appearances unshakable. He has even felt safe enough these last two years to leave the island in the hands of subordinates and journey abroad—to Venezuela, to Brazil, to Mexico (twice), most recently to attend the summit of Latin American presidents in Madrid. The Cuban dictator’s apparent capacity to insulate himself politically from the effects of economic failure—a capacity which former colleagues of the erstwhile Soviet empire might well envy—raises some important questions about the nature of his regime, the true extent of its popularity, and the viability of any reasonable alternative.

About the Author

Mark Falcoff is resident scholar emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.