Cuban President Raúl Castro was the longest speaker at last weekend’s Summit of the Americas in Panama. At age 83, he was also the oldest.
And that matters as the United States and Cuba normalize relations after a half century of cold war — a process that on Tuesday led President Obama to remove Cuba from the State Department’s list of terrorism sponsors.
It matters because President Obama says his new engagement policy isn’t meant to change Cuba overnight. It’s meant to help the United States influence democratic change once Castro’s generation of hardline communists is gone.
But that begs the question: What about Cuba’s next generation of communists?
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The eventual success or failure of Obama’s strategy may well depend on how Gorbachev-like they turn out to be, on how they interpret the leftist maxim that “every generation has to make their own revolution,” as Cuban communist Sergio Gómez told me at the Panama summit.
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Tim Padgett is WRLN’s Americas editor.