A Diplomat Named Raul Castro

Vicente Morin Aguado

Raul Castro radio rebelde.cuHAVANA TIMES — After the aggressive and abrasive Felipe Perez Roque was defenestrated years ago and the charismatic young leader Robertico Robaina also got the whip before him, it looked as though the rather dubious and makeshift figure of the current foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez, coupled with a president with little experience in international relations, would spell the end of Cuban diplomacy. The truth, however, has been nothing but, as Raul Castro has evinced the skills, or at least the results, of a great diplomat.

Relations with Russia, on the brink of collapse following Putin’s visit during his first presidential term, were definitively restored and significantly improved.

Overcoming long-standing prejudices, Cuba was unanimously accepted by the Latin American community and was even pardoned by the OAS.

Europe went from a policy of applying pressures, stemming from the sudden and unjustifiable imprisonment of the so-called 75 (prisoners of conscience), to a stance of trying to please Cuba in its demands.

The Catholic Church sent over three pontiffs, more than it did in twenty years (including the upcoming visit of Pope Francis), faced with a pagan island of dubious religious affiliations, whose leaders have been confessed atheists for half a century.

Finally, 18 months of secret conversations brought about the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Yankee imperialism, promising a long and complicated process which is nonetheless aimed at the “normalization” of relations between the two countries.

Need one say more? Has anyone else obtained anything close to this in under a decade at the helm of a Cuban administration?

Analysts are still asking themselves what concessions Raul Castro has made or will make, aware that diplomacy is the art of giving and receiving. It is clear there will be concessions, and, without aiming at any profound knowledge regarding the complicated arena of international relations, we can arrive at a simple answer: realpolitik, politics without ideology, seems to have triumphed.

Henry Kissinger, a renowned authority on the subject, said the following on assessing Stalin’s diplomacy between the two world wars:

“In the communist mindset, concessions could be made, if at all, to ‘objective reality,’ never to the persuasiveness of the diplomats with whom they were negotiating. Diplomacy thus belonged to the process by which the existing order would eventually be overturned; whether it would be overthrown by a diplomacy of peaceful coexistence or by military conflict depended on the assessment of the relation of forces,” Kissinger wrote.

It is not my intention to draw any analogies, for my loathing of the Georgian dictator (Stalin) is visceral. I consider him to be the man who has done the greatest damage to the communist cause, while hoisting its banner. I have a very different opinion of my country’s current leader. That said, there are always similarities, because their policies both stemmed from confrontation with foreign powers.

In both cases, ideologies function as dogmas that are as irrefutable as Islam or the Gospels can be. Then we have real life. Doctrines are meant for congresses, texts considered flawless or the holy sanctuaries of religions.

Cuba, a small country aware of the intrinsic value of geopolitics, evidently continues to consider offers without snatching the first one that comes along. To neglect ideological considerations is a guarantee of success, and what we are seeing is what I’ve elsewhere described as the responsible pragmatism of Raul Castro. I know that some readers will regard the word “responsible” with suspicion. Only the future will establish the truthfulness of such a claim.

Today, public opinion is of little importance. Discourse is almost entirely under the control of those who design foreign policy. The people face far too many difficulties, the mass media are owned by the Party-State apparatus, the prevailing mentality is still unwilling to undertake a critical analysis of foreign policy, something which is considered the domain of experts, even in societies where people have far more access to information than we do.

Though different, the two communist leaders (Raúl and Bruno) mentioned have been veritable ants, patient workers working in directions opposite to the ones their precursors traced.

For the time being, we are left with the unquestionable foreign policy successes of Cuba’s new president. The contrast with his brother, who appears to be the antithesis of the diplomat, is striking.

In his treaty on diplomacy, the former US Secretary of State offered the following reflection: “Stalin, the great ideologue, was in fact putting his ideology in the service of Realpolitik. Richelieu or Bismark would have had no difficulty understanding his strategy.”

Vicente Morín Aguado: [email protected]

29 thoughts on “A Diplomat Named Raul Castro

  • I’m with you and Shakespeare Carlyle!

  • Although I thank you for the intended compliment bjmack I would hate to belong to the same profession as Dan the American misogynist immigration lawyer.

  • I agree Marti! As always, excellent analysis.

  • Did you actually bother to read his statement?

  • You’d make a great lawyer Carlyle. Details are number one being a good barrister!

  • No running, the Castro’s will die in Cuba. The family is well established in leadership positions, so they will both be well protected. But already non family members are rising. The family monopoly will not hold. China model of leadership council is the direction Cuba is headed post Raul. Terms of president likely to be set at 10 years. Unity against Batista’s return or evil empire to the north will not suffice as organizing principal. Neo- socialism will be judged on what it delivers. Failure will have consequences.

  • Fidel lived and still lives very well. The sacrifices did not involve his personal life style. It does not change what he did. But do not fall for myth of a simple man living in a shack by the sea running a country and leading a socialist revolution.

  • They have much work to do if they are to keep American’s comming back once the novelty wears out. Wifi, water, electricity and soft toilet paper in that order are required for the iPhone growd. Toilet paper will be the hardest, it seems to be in short supply in former Soviet Union states that did not advance after it’s collapse.

  • Things do not remain the same. Cuba is changing. Those that are still fighting the 1940’s view of capitalism fail to understand the current context. We have reached peak socialism and state communism is a declared failure. The future are mixed economies with balance of production and consumption. Those that create and produce the bounty will be rewarded or the society will be poorer.

  • Wife shopping??!!! Really Dan? You obviously don’t have a clue about the culture of the Cuban women. They will kick you behind sideways if you speak of them as a commodity. If you ever were fortunate enough to meet a Cuban lady, you would soon realize that no matter what their economic background, they have more pride and integrity than any women I have ever met.
    And Cuban tourism WILL flourish, not because of amenities, but because of hospitality and the rich culture of the Cuban people.

  • Hey again Mr, Goodrich, found Cayo Piedra yet? Try the south side of Cuba near the Bay of Pigs!

  • and silk ties to go with the tailor made shirts!

  • Yet again Dan, you claiming to be an American qualified immigration lawyer descend to the filthy gutter in your endeavors to insult. By having the impertinence to suggest that I visited Cuba to go “wife shopping” you not only insult me (but I knowing your lack of professional standards can take that) but you highly insult my wife and all Cuban women by suggesting that they are merely available goods. You also insult my four University graduate children and their late mother.
    Shame on you Dan, you are a burden upon your professions standards and the reputation of the American people.
    Go and look in the mirror!

  • Cuba has enjoyed a meaningful increase but more tourists doesn’t make them world class. Like most Castro sycophants, you fell victim to Castro hyperbole.

  • Maybe John hasn’t been to Cuba. I have, and I’m sure years before you got the idea to go wife shopping there. I agree with John and I am sure most Cubans views are much closer to his than yours. You may have spent time there, but from what you write, it seems that there is another island called Cuba which is completely different from the one I know.

  • There you go again Mr. Goodrich, assuming that the rest of the world is confined to reflecting your (American) views.
    Socialism = Communism – Fidel Castro Ruz said so!
    Only 18% of Americans have ever held a passport – and it shows!
    How much time have you spent in Cuba?

  • The two islands are joined by a bridge one island has the guest facilities and staff quarters and the other has Fidel’s residence – do a little research Mr. Goodrich! Did Batista have five houses?

  • Oh yes, they do believe in the revolution which brought them to power and Control! Raul was a communist long before that and Fidel a subsequent convert. They don’t have to run away, RAFIN SA (Raul & Fidel) owns 27% of ETECSA. I remain a sceptic regarding all the current media hype about change in Cuba. Too many people are wearing sun glasses.

  • My guess is that Fidel either never had a two-island personal luxury retreat or has spent little time there.
    Fidel’s revolutionary lifestyle was unlike that of Fulgencio Batista, Somoza or any other of the U.S. puppet dictators in Latin America.
    A web search came up with a London tabloid story on a book written about the early days of the revolution and intended to portray Fidel in the normally hostile capitalist fashion by claiming he lived a lide of opulence when this was and is clearly not the case. .
    On tourism:
    Cuba’s tourism business will be booming once U.S. citizens are allowed to travel to the one country on the planet where their government says they cannot go. It’s 90 miles away, ferry services and tour businesses are sprouting all over south Florida in anticipation of the reopening of normal trade relations with Cuba .
    The Yankee dollars are most welcome.

  • History’s judgment of Fidel Castro will be a great deal kinder than yours.
    Capitalism along with the U.S.imperialism that has sustained it for close to 100 years dies within 20 years and Fidel will be absolved in all the history books that are written after that demise.
    As democrats, socialists cannot admire the Leninist Raul or Fidel but rather support them in their fight against U.S. imperialism and hegemony in spite of those shortcomings, the fight against the greater evil ( imperialism) being essential to any possibility for democracy in Cuba.
    Your thinking on what socialism is and is not is reflective of the low information U.S. public who actually prefer totalitarian systems as I have detailed before.
    Capitalism =totalitarianism.

  • World-class tourism? Have you been to nearby Cancun, Mexico? Nassau, Bahamas? Even St Thomas, USVI is hands down in a different (meaning better) league. Varadero is okay, but be honest, Cuba has a ways to go before earning a “world class” label.

  • Carlyle, the military most certainly controls what you’ve stated but I differ with you regarding the Castro brothers. I think they genuinely believe in the revolution and power is their middle name. The days of running off with billions is over, i feel, and in fact if any of these individuals think they can run away with the cash, they’re mistaken.
    In any case, we’ll see how this pans out and it will be sooner than later.

  • The troika, you mentioned, is spot on. That will be the future if all remains the same. I think Bruno will be the top banana. My guess is Raul will resign and my guess is before this year.
    He’s getting old and not part of the behind the scenes eruption that’s not too far from now.
    Regarding Raul being the diplomat extraordinaire, one thing he has going for him are the new suits and hopefully putting the fatigues away for good. It’s great PR!

  • World class? Have you been there? Mind you, I love Cuba and in fact I’ll be visiting again in November, but world class….no, not exactly. There is a reason that American tourists embarking on a people to people travel program are given an orientation on what type of services and amenities to expect, including power outages, tolet paper issues and overall expectations. It’s still of course a beautiful trip, but perhapse not in the sence that you mean it.

  • I would hesitate to describe the tourist industry of Cuba as world class although the island had that potential. But you are correct in indicating that Raul as head of the Military which operates the majority of the package tour hotels of Cuba, the three airlines, the car hire business, and the tourist coaches has been largely responsible for development as the private sector is only present as a junior partner. Cuba under Raul has developed a history of planning joint hotel ventures with golf courses, but has failed to bring them to fruition directors of some of the projects ending in jail. I remember four years ago a Cuban teacher showing me video in school of three planned such projects at the western end of the island – progress nil!
    Similarly there has been talk of other similar projects with condos for sale to foreigners – where are they?
    But, remember the announcement that GAESA intends to add a further 18,000 hotel rooms to the 26,000 it already holds, between 2015 and 2017. It will be difficult to cram many more hotels to join the 57 already on the Varadero peninsula and as long as Fidel is around, nothing will be constructed that would affect his two-island personal luxury retreat.

  • History will record the successes of the lessor loved brother. Without Raul’s pragmatic rule, Cuba would be in much worse shape. Instead a market is growing and state enterprises are earning hard currency. His greatest strength is listening to advisors with particular expertise in management. He has a very good team around him.

  • This correctly indicates that Fidel Castro Ruz lacked any form of diplomatic ability being unable to restrain his loquacious tongue for fifty boring weary years. Raul Castro Ruz has still a long way to go. Bruno Rodriguez is politically ambitious and along with Diaz-Canel and Marino Murillo will form a Cuban troika. They will have problems with the Castro family dynasty which controls 80% of Cuba’s economy and both the internal (CDR) and external security services. Raul is at his worst when talking publicly when his harsh rasping tongue is reflective of his nature, but he possesses a bucketful of street smarts. Although he is making an impact upon the international media as introducing change, little of it is affecting the lives of Cubans over who he retains power and control much admired by socialists.

  • It was Raul Castro that made the tourist industry of Cuba world class with out Americans .

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