Ill health led to Fidel Castro's resignation yesterday, which in turn gave democracy lovers a glimmer of hope for Cuba. The responses of Republican and Democratic leaders gave U.S. voters a glimpse of which party will best capitalize after the next election (which will not be in Cuba) on the Communist dictator's mortality.
As the Guardian reports,
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama highlighted a subtle division in their Cuba policies that could prove significant come the November presidential election.
Both Democratic presidential hopefuls described the end of Castro's reign as an opening to press for democratic reforms in Cuba rather than a meaningful change in itself. But Obama was the only candidate to directly discuss a possible end to the US economic embargo against its island neighbour.
Senator Obama apparently hopes that coddling Raul through trade will lead him to change his brother's 50-year-old tired Communist ways. Imagine "Kumbaya" set to Barry Manilow's "Copacabana" beat.
Republicans, on the other hand, remember from President Ronald Reagan that the best way to defeat Communism is to call a spade a spade. Just as Reagan rightly characterized the Soviet Union an "Evil Empire", Senator John McCain minced no words in describing the political, economic and moral bankruptcy that is Castro's regime:
McCain, who earned a personal rebuke from Castro this month for suggesting that Cubans tortured US soldiers during the Vietnam war, called the communist leader's resignation "nearly half a century overdue" today.
. . . .
"For decades, Castro oversaw an apparatus of repression that denied liberty to the people who suffered under his dictatorship," McCain said. "Yet freedom for the Cuban people is not yet at hand, and the Castro brothers clearly intend to maintain their grip on power."
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell echoed McCain's sentiment, when he noted Fidel's transfer of power to Raul was simply "replacing one dictator with another".
Unlike Obama and Senator Clinton, McCain and McConnell understand the reality of Cuba. The United States just needs to wait out the Castros rather than prop up their failed economy. Fidel and Raul will both be arguing their case before St. Peter in a short while, and Cuba will finally be free just as surely as the Wall came down in Berlin.