For nearly a half century, the face of Cuba has worn a beard and green army fatigues and had a chewed cigar between his lips. Now ailing following serious intestinal surgery this summer, Cuban president Fidel Castro has temporarily transferred power to his brother and chosen successor, Raul, sparking a wave of speculation about the future of the country upon his inevitable departure.
A panel of experts led by School of Public Affairs dean William LeoGrande last Tuesday night explored questions surrounding the Caribbean nation during SPA’s third-annual SHAPE Carmen Group’s Policy Forum at the Katzen Arts Center.
“Cuba is actually well along in planning for generational transition,” said LeoGrande, a specialist in Latin American politics and U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America. “Fidel’s successors, when they finally take over, are going to have their points of agreement and points of disagreement. After Fidel, no one else in the leadership has that degree of authority, so politics will change from being about convincing Fidel to a kind of bureaucratic politics. The challenge for the successors will be to see if they can find ways to work out their own disagreements.”
Though Castro’s health and age have led many to predict his timely demise, AU’s vice president of international affairs Robert Pastor is not convinced that the end is near for “Il Presidente.”
“I don’t think there’s an individual in the twentieth century who has had as profound an effect on one country as Fidel,” said Pastor, who was National Security Advisor for Latin America under President Jimmy Carter. “I suspect that Fidel has at least one more opportunity to torment Miami by coming back to life.”
However, once Castro does die there are two paths the United States can pursue in its policy toward the island nation.
“The more likely one is the easy one to predict,” he said. “For 47 years we’ve pursued it with very little deviation. It’s a policy that we’ll do better if we isolate them and try to undermine their regime. I am reasonably confident that to pursue an approach of isolation will condemn ourselves to irrelevancy. Forty-seven years of failed policy ought to be sufficient grounds for contemplating change.
Dean LeoGrande on Cuba School of Public Affairs dean William LeoGrande moderated last Tuesday’s SHAPE Carmen Group’s Policy Forum “Cuba after Fidel.” An expert in Latin America politics, LeoGrande briefly shared a few of his own insights during the program, but generally stood in the background while the panel of featured speakers shared their thoughts. Here, LeoGrande expands on his views of Castro and the future of Cuba.
Q: You’ve met Castro personally on several occasions. How significant was his decision to temporarily hand over power to his brother? A: Castro has never before handed over power, even when he has been abroad on extended trips for weeks at a time. His decision to hand over power now, even temporarily, indicates that his illness is very serious and debilitating.
Q: When Raul Castro does eventually permanently take over control of the government, how do you expect the country to change? A: Raul Castro has always been more pragmatic than Fidel about economic experimentation. The armed forces, which he leads, has been in the forefront of economic reform and the use of market mechanisms in the economy. I think he would be inclined to experiment further if he were in charge.
Q: Do you expect any rivals to Raul Castro to emerge? A: Raul Castro has been the second most important leader in Cuba and Fidel’s designated successor since January 1959. As commander of the armed forces, he has a very loyal following in the military. Under these conditions, I don’t expect anyone to challenge his leadership. But after Fidel, decision making among Cuban leaders will be a more collaborative enterprise than it has been in the past because no one has Fidel’s charisma and authority.
Q: Do you consider this to be a major turning point in Cuba’s history? A: Fidel’s death will be a major turning point in Cuban history, but it is possible that he may recover from his current illness and resume his leadership positions. In that case, the current episode will be seen in retrospect as a test of the succession machinery Castro has put in place.
“We interpret lifting the embargo as in Castro’s interests and not ours,” Pastor continued. “The problem is it’s wrong, and Castro knows it. At one point in one of my conversations with Fidel, he said if you ever found the wisdom to lift the embargo, I would try to find a way to reimpose it. He understands that openness is our greatest strength.”
Philip Peters, vice president of the nonpartisan public research firm the Lexington Institute, addressed Cuba’s economy, which collapsed into a crisis following the demise of the Soviet Union but has bounced back in recent years.
“They way they did it, first they allowed foreign currency to circulate in Cuba legally,” he said. “They opened to foreign investment; they changed their agricultural policies so that farmers suddenly became free to sell their surplus on the open market. They took the very difficult step of reducing the investment in sugar, and they invested in tourism. The result of all this is that they have recovered.”
Raul Castro is known for having introduced some minor market-driven economic policies within the Cuban military, Peters said.
“He’s not allergic to using ideas from the outside,” he said. “Nobody knows what he’ll do on the day he becomes president. [But] if Cuba does begin to open up [economically], they’ll enter a positive dynamic with Canada and Europe, essentially like we have with China.”
The Cuba question is one that reaches far beyond simple politics and economics. For the 1.5 million Cuban Americans now living in this country, it is intensely personal. AU alumna Silvia Wilhelm, a native of Cuba, is executive director of the Cuban American Commission for Family Rights.
“It was in the classrooms of this university where I started my political transformation,” she told the audience in the Abramson Family Recital Hall. “The Cuba dilemma is one of such complexity, there are no easy answers and there are no easy solutions. I believe we are witnessing a full-fledged succession that has been planned for some time.”
More than 70 percent of the Cuban population was born during Castro’s reign, Wilhelm said, which could explain why there is not more opposition to him or his policies within the country.
“To some degree, [the current system] gives them some comfort,” she said. “If Fidel were to disappear tomorrow, I don’t think you’d see any revolt, but I do believe that there is a desire for some changes in their lives. Raul Castro is still a political enigma. I sincerely hope the new leaders of Cuba pay attention to the hopes and dreams of the Cuban people.”
Mexican President-elect Felipe Calderon, names his top law enforcement and military Cabinet members in Mexico City, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2006. President-elect Felipe Calderon named his top law enforcement and military Cabinet members on Thursday, and vowed to appear before Congress for his swearing-in ceremony. In announcing the appointments, Calderon said he would not back down from appearing in Congress on Friday for his inauguration _ despite leftist lawmakers camped out on the congressional stage who have vowed to block him.
By IOAN GRILLO, The Associated Press Dec 1, 2006 Current rank:
MEXICO CITY - Mexican leader Felipe Calderon got a head start Friday on opponents trying to block his inauguration, taking charge of the presidential residence and swearing in some of his staff in an unusual midnight ceremony.
Calderon said nobody was going to stop him from taking office later Friday. Lawmakers who backed Calderon's rival in the disputed presidential election, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, have occupied the podium where Calderon is to be sworn in.
Lopez Obrador, a leftist, claims Calderon, a conservative, used fraud to win the election and asked supporters to gather in Mexico City's main square to protest. Congress is ringed by police and presidential guards.
In a live broadcast from the presidential residence of Los Pinos, Calderon called on Mexicans to leave behind the divisions that have dogged him and the country since the July 2 vote. He takes over from Vicente Fox, who handed over his presidential sash during the closed-door ceremony.
"I have received the presidential offices from President Vicente Fox, the start of the process of taking possession of the presidency," Calderon said. "Later, I will appear before Congress to take the constitutional oath."
Calderon's supporters occupied central Mexico City for months following the election, demanding a full recount. The protests culminated in a self-styled convention of delegates who packed central Zocalo plaza and voted to form a parallel government. Last month Calderon swore himself in as head of that government.
Then on Tuesday, lawmakers from Calderon's ruling National Action Party and Lopez Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party scuffled to take control of the congressional stage where Calderon is to be inaugurated. They each seized a section of the stage, refusing to leave in a three-day standoff.
In September, leftist lawmakers managed to block Fox from giving his state-of-the-nation speech in Congress by occupying the same dais.
Calderon called on lawmakers to respect the constitutional process. "I invite you to build a better, different Mexico, a winning Mexico," he said.
He praised Fox for "honesty, loyalty and working for the good of Mexico."
The first opposition candidate to hold the presidency in Mexico, Fox marked his last evening in office with a visit to Mexico City's Basilica of Guadalupe, one of the holiest sites for Mexico's Roman Catholics, the same place he visited six years ago before taking office.
The standoff in Congress forced the conservative Calderon to take unusual steps to avoid clashes, conserve his dignity and keep visiting heads of state far from any trouble - adding up to an inauguration different from previous solemn, pomp-filled affairs.
Lawmakers of Calderon's conservative National Action Party control a narrow strip of the podium just wide enough to allow Calderon to walk in, face the floor of Congress and take the oath.
Because Calderon will be just a few feet from his bitter adversaries - who may unleash a storm of jeers - it appeared unlikely that visiting foreign dignitaries including former President Bush and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would be invited to attend.
Instead, Calderon's office announced plans for a separate ceremony at the heavily guarded National Auditorium on the other side of Mexico City.
On Thursday, Calderon named a handful of military and security veterans as his top law enforcement aides.
"We have to confront crime with vigorous action," said Calderon, who appointed Public Safety Secretary Eduardo Medina Mora as federal attorney general.
INTERNATIONAL NEWS. Iraq will be voting Thursday,12/15/05 for their President, Prime Minister, and 275 members of their new Parliament. Their are over 3,000 candidates and the excitement is very real. Police and Security have started voting today, Monday, 12/12/05. Security will be ready for Thursday's election. Security at the polls is high and will be monitored at all times, including the ballot boxes. The borders have been closed, except for trucking to continue the business of commerce for the country of a free Iraq. A 7am to 10pm curfew near the borders has been implemented until after election night. Election for their new Constitution will be in four to six weeks. We Congradulate and wish them the very best on their election day. More info. to come. Jim =================================== 12/06/05 Britain: David Cameron is elected to be the next leader of the New Conservative Party Elect. =================================== 12/06/05 Condi Rice in Germany, meeting with Angela Merkel, German Chancellor =================================== BANKING & FINANCIAL NEWS. On 10/24/05, President Bush has nominated Ben Bernanke as the next Federal Reserve Chairman to replace Allen Greenspan, who retires the end of January 2006. Ben Bernanke will require Senate approval and a Hearing by the Senate Banking Committee. If approved he will become the 14th Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. President of Council of Economic Advisors, Federal Reserve Board Govenor from 2002 to 2005, Princton University Economic Professor from 1985 to 2002, A Chairman at Princton, Editor of Financial Banking World, taught advanced Economics at numerous Universities, a graduate of Harvard and earned a Doctorate from Mass. of Tehnology. He will fight any increase in inflation. JL ====================================== 12/10/05. Poland Prime Minister, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz said he was ordering a detailed probe into allegations that the CIA ran secret prisons on Polish Territory. More than a half dozen investigations are under way into weather European countries may have hosted secret U.S. run prisons.
Presidential Election in Poland occured October 23rd, 2005, which was a runoff election. The winner is Lech Kaczynski, (Law and Justice Party), who beat Donald Tusk, (Civil Platform Party). He won on his focus and attacks on the outgoing government of ex-communists with their corruption and calling for a moral change. He wants Poland to become a New Republic, the 4th in Polands history. President elect Kaczynski will take over current President Aleksander Kwasniewski who held office for the maximum of two terms, (10years). The President of Poland has less domestic power than Poland's Prime Minister, (Parliamentry Election was 09/25/05), but has influence in foreign matters. President elect Kaczynski is pro U.S.A. and might deploy Poland's troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. He will have the Russian, and German leaders to visit Poland early next year or sooner to mend fenses. President elect will be visiting the White House early next year. He is a twin and both were childstars in the movies. His twin brother, Jaroslaw Kaczynski was elected 09/25/05 to Parliament, but will step down since his twin brother was elected as president of Poland. Congradulations to Poland! JL ====================================== 11/26/05 Gaza International border crossing opened Saturday, at noon for four hours. Called the Rafah border between Palestine and Egypt. First time since the Palestinians lost their land to Isreal in 1967. The deal was worked out by Condaleeza Rice. More to come later. =======================================
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43rd President George W. Bush Cabinet; Department of
*Agriculture: Sec. Mike Johanns *Commerce: Sec. Carlos Guitierrez *Defense: Sec. Donald Rumsfeld *Education: Sec. Margaret Spellings *Energy: Sec. Samuel W. Bodman *Health & Human Services: Sec. Michael O. Leavitt *Homeland Security: Sec. Michael Chertoff *Housing&Urban Development: Sec. Alphonso Jackson *Interior: Sec. Kirk Kempthorne *Justice: Attorny General Alberto Gonzales *Labor: Sec. Elaine Chao *State: Sec. Condoleezza Rice *Transportation: Sec. Mary E. Peters *Treasury: Sec. Henry M. Paulson Jr. *Veterans Affairs: Sec. Jim Nicholson
01/25/06 Palestinians Parliamentary Election. 132 seats up for vote. Last vote was 10 years ago. Change and Reform Party v. Fatah Party (Palestinian Authority, PA)
76 seats WON by the Change and Reform Party. 58% of the legislative counsel will be members of the Change and Reform party associated with Hamas. Hamas changed its name to gain much more political appeal. It Worked! Reasons are, 1.Fiscal crisis re. the P.A., 2. Law and order, 3. Social injustice, 4. Land disputes with Israel, 5. Military stance with Israel, 6. Trade, 7. Airport and port access, 8. Border crossings, 9. Education, 10. Housing and infrastructure, 11. Health care, 12. Israel attemt to restrict voting in East Jerusalem, 13. Israel arresting Hamas candidates, 14. Israel targeted killings of Hamas leaders, and 15. the security Palestinians feel that the Change and Reform party gives them. Questions are, (A). Who will win the March election in Israel, a Hawk or Dove? (B). Who will Russia back openly and behind closed doors? (C). Will the Palestinians become a nonsecular state? (D). Will world Muslim terrorists get bolder because of this outcome? (E). Will the fall 2006 elections and the Presidentioal election in 2008 be affected by these elections? (F). What will other Muslim nations think of this Hamas victory, including Iraq? (G). Will Israel seek a partnership with any other nation not supporting the Palestinians of a state of their own? Lots of questions on the table. Glad your not the President of the U.S.A.? These are just a few questions our government has to try to answer. Lets give our 43rd President BUSH the support needed to handle the events that are unfolding around the world. President Bush said that he welcomes democracy in Palestine but made sure to state that the U.S.A. will not accept any terrorist actions against Israel or any of our allies in the region. Hamas charter states the total destruction of Israel. Will the Change and Reform Party accept this motto as their own or will the new elected party become the party for all of the Palestinian people to finally achieve their free Palestinian state.
More to come! Stay tune. JL :) ----------------------------------------------------------- International Affairs. Iran President on Wed., 10/26/05 declared that Isreal must be wiped off the map and anyone that recognizes Isreal will burn. (This is an act of war, directed to the U.S.A.) Iran must not be allowed to have any nuclear power. Aresolution was passed on 10/28/05 from the House and Senate 383-0-1 to stop deal with Iran. More to Come. --------------------------------------------------------------------- SPECIAL ELECTION in CANADA Held Monday, January 23rd, 2006. Conservative Party Wins in Canada, but a sa minority party. New Elected Prime Minister is Steven Harper. 46 years old, married with two children, a boy and a girl. Born and raised in Ontario Canada. He becomes the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada. He will spend more money on defense. Friend of the U.S.A. compared to Paul Martin and the Liberal Party. Harper ran on lowering taxes, giving each family a $1,200 child care credit, a stronger Federalist government, dealing with crime in Canada, transparent process in their democratic process, a less wait for senior citizens getting medical treatment, fix their fiscal crisis and corruption, promoting lesser Provinces in Canada, electoral reforms by working with other political parties in Canada and by keeping their troops in Afganistan. His slogan he ran was "LEND US YOUR VOTE", and "Hope Over Fear".
This Special Election occured do to a Financial Scandel that the current Prime Minister, Paul Martin, (Liberal Party) was involved in. A vote of NO CONFIDENCE was acted toward the current Prime Minister in their Parliament, thus triggering a new election that occured on the 23rd of January.
308 seats in their Parliament. 155 seats needed to hold a majority. CONSERVATIVE PARTY = 124 Seats LIBERAL PARTY = 103 Seats BLOC QUEBECOIS PARTY, (BQ) = 51 Seats NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY, (NDP) = 29 Seats INDEPENDENT PARTY = 1 Seats
By the way, The Population of Canada is about 33 million. Canada has energy to export. Lots of it. Their newly excavated Tar Sands are huge. New technology has made these tar sands as big as the oil fields in Saudi Arabia. This will give Canada additional leverage in the World Trade Organization. Their natural gas fields are just as big. Ranked # ONE in exporting energy to the U.S.A.. Mexico is ranked # TWO. Who says we should eliminate NAFTA? Thank goodness they are not leading our Nation. jl :) MORE TO COME!
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