Alejandro Castro: Building the Extended Family

Haroldo Dilla Alfonso*

Alejandro Castro Espin in his interview with RT Noticias of Russia.

HAVANA TIMES — In the headlines last week was Alejandro Castro Espin, the sole son of the general/president and the coordinator of his intelligence and counterintelligence apparatus.

This doesn’t happen often, at least not with the frequency of his sister, Mariela, who’s gay rights marches, political innocence and facile smiles always have the press in her favor.

Alejandro is more discreet but equally or more relevant than his photogenic sister. Actually, all of them are relevant – Raul’s son-in-law Lopez Callejas included. This is because they make up what will in the future be a real power: The Castro clan.

This is a sociological phenomenon that would have been unthinkable with Fidel Castro, who never had a sense of what a family is; but this isn’t the case with his brother, Raul, who has the reputation as being a man devoted to his offspring, someone who loves his children and grandchildren, and even employs them.

The Castro clan is a fact of Cuban politics and is going to continue being one. If a transition to democracy is successful, they will be part of the political system, possibly rooted to some right-wing nationalist party and enjoying a solid economic base. Should the transition prove to be a failure, they will remain starkly in power.

And obviously the Castro offspring have taken advantage of being born in olive-green cribs.

While Mariela is projected as the public relations master of the clan, and Lopez Callejas runs the numbers [he’s the chief executive officer of Gaesa, the business arm and cash cow of the Cuban army], Alejandro is preparing his future by trying to polish up the façade of being an intellectual through a few articles and by promoting his book El Imperio del Terror (English: The Empire of Terror), whose title always reminds me of the endless Star Wars saga.

Now, with strong support — either from the Russian embassy or a few nostalgic individuals — Moscow has just launched his book translated into Russian and gave a press conference, after which, it’s said, Alejandro met with a select group of Muscovite entrepreneurs eager to invest in the former Island of Liberty.

Interview (in Spanish) with Alejandro Castro Espin

I read a few pieces of the book a couple of years ago, when it was showed to me by a good Dominican friend who still cultivated the revolutionary myth. To me I found it to be something with the intellectual density of a Chuck Norris movie.

That was why I never felt motivated to read the whole thing. I confess that if I had been tempted to do so, after hearing the interview given by the heir to a journalist in Moscow, I would have given up right there on the spot.

It’s not that Alejandro Castro (AC) is saying anything different from what I think. It’s logical since we’re at two political antipodes: him in power handling public affairs, and I banished and writing articles for the Cubaencuentro website.

The problem is that what AC offers us in his presentation is the same tired rhetoric and the defense of a monotonous and unimaginative political class, seasoned with some nonsense compatible with that Castrist intention of placing the contemporary world in binary cocktail shaker.

I’m surprised, for example, that a person who is supposed to show the world the post-Fidel renewal, continues dragging out the same old story that nothing has changed in the last 50 years, since everything is (and here he ends up repeating the word ad nauseum) “essentially” the same.

This means that for this supposed Cuban social researcher (as he was presented by the affable Russian program) Kennedy and Carter are the same as Reagan and Bush, just as Tea Party activists are “essentially” the same as the nouveau New England liberals.He sees Obama is the same as Romney.

All of which doesn’t allow me to explain why Clinton didn’t bomb Havana in March 1996, which certainly would have been done by the dyslexic who succeeded him in the White House.

No less amazing is that — with the ease that’s only allowed by ignorance and tolerated by a journalist who is obligated not to do damage — according to AC, the popular uprisings in Libya were linked to the policies of the IMF and World Bank, which ended up destabilizing a legitimate and democratic government.

There is democracy, he says — more confidently than some Rambo blasting away at the Vietnamese — when norms are carried out that the people accept (which I suppose Gaddafi’s government, with his Little Green Book and his female Amazonian warriors, was an example for many years – as has been the Cuban example over the last half century).

No reader should be surprised — though some enlightened will read this and send me nasty comments — when I say that I’m absolutely anti-embargo/blockade, I’m against any attempt by the US to act as an internal actor of Cuban politics and that I become angered by the cheap jingoism of the fundamentalist factions of emigrants.

But I don’t think anyone will be surprised when I say that it’s unacceptable for the Cuban government to continue justifying its actions against the Cuban people alleging anti-imperialist and patriotic reasons.

In the name of anti-imperialism two million people have been exiled; and with the same justification, others have been repressed and shot. Due to that same excuse, Cubans are unable to freely express their views, engage in any alternative political organizing or exercise any social autonomy beyond brief intimate settings.

The death penalty remains in place because we are a sovereign stronghold. And now our professionals can’t travel freely because imperialism practices brain drain. Several thousand Cubans died in Africa — and several thousand parents lost their children. Women were left widowed and children became orphans — because we became the spearhead against imperialism, waging wars for the benefit of corrupt and ruthless elites.

Like God — in that unforgettable scene that Saramago presents to us about the Sea of Galilee —Cuba’s leaders can’t live without their devil, which is to say without their blockade, without their threats of intervention, without their hardcore exiles and without whatever incident that can becoming an argument to justify repression and incompetence.

Alejandro Castro knows all of this perfectly well. And because of this all of his discourse is the same, seeking to justify the application of Cuban domestic policy based on a besieged fortress mentality in which every dissenter is a traitor.

This continues to be the recurring theme not only for social repression and coercion suffered in Cuban society, but also by inconsiderate anti-Cuban supporters of a part of the liberal circles and the left internationally.
(*) An authorized translation of the original published in Spanish by

4 thoughts on “Alejandro Castro: Building the Extended Family

  • Haroldo,

    My media is full of ‘chattering class’ commentators who only write about how they feel about things and provide very little real news so I have a low tolerance level for reading ones from Cuba, like yours. Your hatred of the Castros is apparent, even extending to Mariela, seeing even her smiles as “facile”.

    Your writing attracts the usual American commenters who share your hatreds. I’ll leave you and them to your mutual love fest. I guess I will have to revert to reading HT selectively, just like I used to do with corporate media here until I finally figured out it wasn’t worth it and gave them up entirely.

    I prefer reading news items, not columnists, even if they have similar viewpoints to mine. It’s better to have facts to help you decide on what’s going on than someone trying to convince you of what they think is going on.

    Your name on a piece will be an automatic tab-closer from now on. Unfortunately, I’m collecting more tab closers on HT than must reads.

  • Cuba seems a long way from becoming the family franchise which has developed, for example, in the PDRK. On the other hand, many of my compatriots seem enamoured by royalty, as demonstrated by our obsession with British royals, not to mention all the pop culture films about Americans marrying–or becoming–royals. Finally, perhaps a constitutionalist monarchy might not be all that bad, as the royals sometimes stand in as protectors of the people, and in opposition to the more unsavory elements of multi-national corporate capitalism. In any event, 50+ years ago (as 220+ years ago in France, and 90+ years ago in Russia) the deck was reshuffled (and in fact, needed to be reshuffled). Perhaps it is as Thos. Jefferson once said, every generation the deck needs to be, err, “reshuffled!”

  • The Castro regime is nothing more nor less than a narcissistic, nepotistic, Marxist monopoly, a mafiosa-style dictatorship. Utterly corrupt, hypocritical and ruinous to the Cuban nation.

  • The Castros, not surprisingly, wish to continue their stranglehold on the Cuban people. With Fidel, their egomanical control was at least colored with fiery rhetoric and original sloganeering. After all, ¨gusano¨ was catchy in its own way. Now, however, without Fidel´s charisma, these same slogans come across outdated and silly. Now, when true power in the world is dictated from the boardrooms of multinationals, the Castro´s worn-out name-calling along national borders seems childish. If Cuba had oil (at least where we could find it) or some other extrinsic value to world markets, the US would quickly get past Cuba´s lack of democracy and human rights and extend the olive branch. Likewise, if Cuba had anything real to offer the world beyond failed idealism and medical prostitution, they would be able to side-step the embargo because the world would be at their beck and call. This Castro, like his sister before him, is merely setting himself up for a comfortable life in a Venezuelan mansion during the post-Castro years.

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