Saturday, September 20, 2008

Raul Comes Out to Play

Nearly 20 days after Pinar del Rio and Isla de la Juventud were battered by hurricane Gustav and subsequently thrashed by Ike, Raul Castro FINALLY visited these devastated areas.

His audience appears to be happy to see him. Some suggest that this is because people view Raul as Cuba's executioner--literally and figuratively. They think he can get things done. He did, after all, establish the FAR, Cuba's most successful apparatus.

These devastated people think that if Raul is there, if the government is there, they will receive aid, and right now, that is all that they care about. For most, politics becomes a quick second to survival--if politics doesn't stand in the way of that survival, that is.

In this case, the sight of Raul Castro gives people hope (it must be really weird for him). Some expected that there might be riots, heckling, or at least some booing for all the time the people had to wait before Raul arrived, but there appeared to be none of that. Faults are quickly forgiven when there is hope for a better future.

But what of all the places he has not visited? Do they have hope? Will they receive aid? The government has already stated it simply does not have the resources to deal with this $5 billion catastrophe. Will these forgotten people feel abandoned, betrayed, or disregarded? and if so, will they just conform?

All my thoughts point to a 'yes.' A Freedom House survey, taken in April, says that most of their respondents stated that so long as their living situation was not as difficult as it was during the Periodo Especial, that they would simply conform.

On a brighter note, though, Raul might feel forced to institute reforms at a faster pace than he has been. Unfortunately, these reforms will likely deal exclusively with economic decentralization and increased economic freedoms. On a larger scale, though, any freedom from the government is a step in the right direction.

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