So, when Fidel flamboyantly condemned them in a published reflection — they had been seduced “by the honey of power” he wrote — their fates were sealed. Raúl’s position was strengthened as a result and Fidel’s lingering influence highlighted. Reading the tea leaves of what Fidel wrote, and did not, was for more than five years an obligatory task for students of Cuba’s revolution.
When the regime recently announced that Fidel had issued his last reflection it was at least in part for reasons of health. But his absence for the first time in nearly 60 years from the revolution’s revealed dialogue suggests that his successors have crossed an historic Rubicon. Raúl now has a freer hand to advance needed economic reforms, and possibly even to seek improved relations with the United States.
Thus far he has only cautiously departed from the sacred Fidelista policies of the past, constrained by hard liners devoted to his brother and by corruption and bureaucratic intransigence. But as Raúl speaks of eliminating the regime’s history of “paternalism, egalitarianism, and idealism” he means Fidel’s dogmatic policies that now seem likely to be more systematically discarded. After six years at the helm, with his hand-picked team of military and civilian leaders at his side, General Castro can feel more secure.
So, silenced and sidelined for the second time, Fidel will likely now be unable to decisively influence the course of Cuba’s failed revolution. With no fanfare, he will drift into the dark recesses of history.
Brian Latell is senior research associate, Cuba Studies, University of Miami and author of Castro’s Secrets: The CIA and Cuba’s Intelligence Machine.