Cuban Communism 'Will Die With Castro'
By David Rennie in Washington
Cuba's Communist system will not, and cannot, survive the death of Fidel
the highest-ranking Cuban defector for more than a decade said yesterday.
Alcibiades Hidalgo, a former vice-foreign minister and Cuban ambassador
United Nations, said the ailing, 76-year-old Mr Castro's appointed successor, his
younger brother, Raul, lacked the ability, the health and even the ambition to be
more than a brief "transition" figure.
Fidel's purges have left no promising younger leaders He would immediately
the twin threats of social unrest, and a military coup. "What you call the Cuban
revolution will die with Fidel Castro," Mr Hidalgo told The Telegraph during a visit to
Washington, to meet senior officials of the Bush administration.
Mr Hidalgo, who crossed the shark-infested Straits of Florida on a home-made
two weeks ago, is a former member of the central committee of the Cuban
He was chief of staff to Raul Castro for several years, before falling
from grace in
the mid-1990s, amid rows with his superiors about Cuban foreign policy. Mr
Hidalgo, who is still being debriefed by the US government, and lives under threat
from Fidel Castro's many spies in America, described Cuba as a society without
"Cubans try every day to solve their immediate needs," he said. "You have
every day, what are you going to eat? What are your children going to eat? Where
will you get your next shoes?"
He described Cuba as a tinder-box amid spiralling unemployment, falling
export goods such as sugar and nickel, the global collapse in tourism and
instability in Venuzuela, Cuba's best friend in Latin America and main source of oil.
"Always there is the prospect of social unrest," he said. "The government has no
Raul Castro, a heavy-drinking, tough military commander, would not be able
sustain totalitarian rule after his brother died, Mr Hidalgo predicted.
Speaking in the offices of a Cuban exile group which is sheltering him,
"Raul is not a young man, he is 71. He doesn't take care of his health like Fidel
does and he lacks Fidel's ability. He has no long-term thinking.
"I even think he doesn't have the need for power that Fidel has.
"Fidel has the need to go into history as one of the figures of the century.
more humble ambitions." Raul Castro was "very tough" and, while not intelligent,
was a pragmatist, who had promoted modest economic reforms, sometimes
against his brother's opposition.
"Raul will not be in a position to rule as Fidel does. Most probably, he
himself as a transition, looking for younger people to pass the reins to but, frankly
speaking, I don't see who there is."
Fidel Castro has purged most of the promising younger Communist leaders,
only courtiers and cronies, Mr Hidalgo said.
"The entourage around Fidel Castro have no political roots among the Cuban
people," he said. Although Raul Castro personally appointed his generals, Mr
Hidalgo described a world of fear and secrecy, where no one in the elite trusts
"In every totalitarian regime, you can never be sure what will be the reaction
nearest colleagues", Mr Hidalgo said. "In Romania, Ceausescu received his
punishment from his closest colleagues."
Mr Hidalgo knew for "five or six years" that he had to leave Cuba, after
socialist system was a "political, economic and social failure".
Until his escape last month, he kept his views secret from all but his
friends, turning up to work dutifully as editor in chief of Trabajadores, one of Cuba's
three national newspapers. The paper, in common with the rest of the strictly
censored Cuban media, has yet to report his defection.
Before he left, he was unable to say goodbye to his only child, Carolina,
turned 11 yesterday, or her mother, from whom he is divorced. Carolina and her
mother were initially harassed by the authorities but Mr Hidalgo was able to speak
to them by telephone this week.
"I'm 56," he said. "I hope to see my daughter again but it will take a
revolution to do
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2002.