London Daily Telegraph
Agosto 14, 2002

Cuban Communism 'Will Die With Castro'

                                   By David Rennie in Washington

                                   Cuba's Communist system will not, and cannot, survive the death of Fidel Castro,
                                   the highest-ranking Cuban defector for more than a decade said yesterday.

                                   Alcibiades Hidalgo, a former vice-foreign minister and Cuban ambassador to the
                                   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 face
                                   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 raft
                                   two weeks ago, is a former member of the central committee of the Cuban
                                   Communist Party.

                                   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 to think
                                   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 prices for
                                   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
                                   clear strategy."

                                   Raul Castro, a heavy-drinking, tough military commander, would not be able to
                                   sustain totalitarian rule after his brother died, Mr Hidalgo predicted.

                                   Speaking in the offices of a Cuban exile group which is sheltering him, he added:
                                   "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. Raul has
                                   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 will view
                                   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, leaving
                                   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
                                   anyone else.

                                   "In every totalitarian regime, you can never be sure what will be the reaction of your
                                   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 deciding the
                                   socialist system was a "political, economic and social failure".

                                   Until his escape last month, he kept his views secret from all but his closest
                                   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, who
                                   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

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