Reports of Castro’s timely demise are only partially exag- gerated. The Miami rumor mill has been so flooded with reports of his death kept secret by an elaborate conspiracy that £1 Maximo Lider himself had to come out of convalescence and grant a rambling public interview. The Economist even weighed in with a short piece about how such conspiracies are virtually impossible to carry through, in part because the perpetrators would be the beneficiaries of his demise.
But he has actually – perhaps – politically died (some- what). The Aug. 4 issue of the British journal declared that the post-Fidel era has already begun. Raul Castro, second fiddle and heir apparent, has now been in charge for over a year, without his brother’s intrusive micromanagement. Raul has made some considerable procedural alterations. He has announced”structural and institutional changes” to the economy and he has called for an “open debate” on economic liberalization – though the “pure poison” of “neo-liberal formulae” is off the table. Fidel, recovering slowly and making a few public appearances (but not at the July 26 celebration of the birthday of the Cuban Revolution), is allowing his brother full rein, though he still hovers in the background like a prickly conscience.
Not only do the Cuban cadres sense a change; even internal dissidents believe “a turning point has been reached.” The Economist cautiously concludes that “Raul, not Fidel, is the man making every important decision” now. But only a trained pearl diver should hold his breath.