The Last Communist
Consider for a moment the career of this Caribbean dictator: he takes office as a reformer, but quickly reveals a vast, indeed unlimited, appetite for power. He is able to sustain himself in this role partly through the support of one of the superpowers, which regards him—for all his faults and limitations—as a concrete geopolitical asset. At home, he eliminates all centers of independent life; abroad, he connives at the overthrow of neighboring governments, supplying local sympathizers with arms, money, and training. He runs his country like a private estate, overseeing every detail of its economic, political, and military life. In order to do this, he parcels out important responsibilities to his brother. His country—to quote a former American ambassador—is “a true modern totalitarian state, complete with racism, espionage apparatus, torture chambers, and murder factories.”
For three decades the dictator’s name is virtually synonymous with that of his country, and although his jails are full, spies and informers everywhere, and his people impoverished, he is often praised by foreign admirers and major world leaders. Then, one day, his throne is shaken by new winds of democracy and freedom blowing throughout his region and in the wider world. Yet in spite of all predictions—and dozens of assassination plots—he holds onto power, either because (as his apologists claim), in spite of everything, he enjoys enduring popularity among his people, or because (as his critics point out) his opposition remains weak and divided, dead or in exile. Only human mortality seems to limit his survival.
About the Author
Mark Falcoff is resident scholar emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.