Why Fidel and not Raul?

By Circles Robinson

Fidel and Raul Castro at a session of the Cuban parliament on February 24, 2013. Photo: granma.cubaweb.cu

HAVANA TIMES — Many of our readers speculate on the influence of Fidel Castro, 87, on the government of his brother Raul, 82, and the Communist Party of Cuba.

Some think he is highly influential on foreign policy matters, others think he also has veto power of domestic issues. Yet others believe his participation is now only protocol, attending to visiting dignitaries and occasionally making a public appearance to let his supporters know he is still up and around.

Since taking over the helm, temporarily in 2006 and officially in 2008, Raul Castro has carried out an anti-corruption campaign that has swept away many of Fidel’s chief civilian lieutenants and replaced them with his trusted military officers.

He also put an end to Fidel’s “Battle of Ideas” programs and replaced them with an economic reform agenda approved by the last Communist Party Congress in April 2011.

Raul has at times referred to Fidel as his chief advisor; but to what extent that is really the case is unknown, cloaked in official secrecy.

As the editor of a publication which usually publishes the complete speeches and writings of both Fidel and Raul Castro, it is odd that the government/party almost never sees fit to translate into other languages, or at least English, the speeches by Raul Castro.  Meanwhile every word uttered or written by Fidel appears in a wide range of languages, usually the same day it is published in Spanish.

To give our readers an idea, on the government website: “Reflections by Fidel Castro” virtually everything he has written over the last seven years, since he began his “Reflections”, is available in Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, Italian, German, Russian and Arabic.  The same goes for Fidel’s speeches from 1999 to 2006.

In the case of Raul Castro on the site with his speeches dating from 2008 to 2014, it’s curious that only one of 15 speeches in the last three years has been deemed by the government worthy of translating, and that only into English.

Since there is nobody to ask the question in the title of this article “Why Fidel and not Raul”, I’ll leave it to our readers.

15 thoughts on “Why Fidel and not Raul?

  • I am a true capitalist but if you call supporting universal health care and access to free quality public education being a socialist, I guess I am sympathetic as well. Labeling President Lincoln and Dr. King as socialists may make you feel better, but the fact is that the real socialists, Stalin, Mao, and Castro are whom history will remember as the poster children that have ultimately done more harm than good for the people forced to live under their respective regimes.

  • Hi there, I have bad news for you; Abraham Lincoln was sympathetic to socialism – look it up – and the International Workingmes association of Europe, of which Karl Marx was secretary, was a strong supporter of the Union forces. Martin Luther King Jr. was also a socialist. Fidel is also in that tradition; the fact that U.S. embargo and endless destabilization attempts have damaged Cuba also proves nothing. Education, Literacy, and equality vastly improved through socialism in Cuba. Rhetorical flourishes like ‘nice try but a fail’ prove nothing.

  • Nice try but a fail. Abraham Lincoln spoke of the virtues that reflected the best in man. He spoke against the mechanisms in society that favored the privileged. Fidel speaks against mechanisms that favor the hard-worker, the innovator and the man willing to sacrifice his today for a better tomorrow. Fidel energizes the desires in some men who have failed at competing fairly to resort to taking what they have been told should have been theirs. His speeches don’t inspire men to excellence but to mediocrity. Look to Cuban productivity as the result of Fidel’s inspiration.

  • Hi there, You are right: Abraham Lincoln is another example. The ‘crybaby’ slaves made him their hero; just as the hardworking impoverished ‘crybaby’ penniless sugarcane workers made Fidel a hero. By your account, 95% or so of U.S. people are also crybabys including the 40 million who, due to the economic crisis brought on by wallstreet, cannot buy enough food and must use insufficient government food stamps. A million Iraqus who died thanks to the support people like you gave to the U.S. invasion are also ‘crybabys’ Enough said.

  • “His hours-long speeches were listened to and taken to heart by a people who had been waiting a long time for those messages.” Hahahahahahahahaha! You really don’t know any Cubans do you?

  • Find a Cuban, any Cuban, and ask them what “teachings” of Fidel that they have taken to heart. He was a frickin’ dictator, not some guru who discovered the meaning of life. You are sooooo clueless!

  • John wrote,

    “I recently reread one speech /interview with a U.S. magazine in which he repeated that Cuba cannot and never had tried to foment revolution”

    You do realize that Fidel has always been a consummate liar, right? Only a fool would take him at his word.

  • The feeling the vast majority of Cubans have toward both Fidel & Raul is fear. Not respect. Not gratitude. Not admiration.


    Perhaps Geyer was off a bit. But Moses is correct, when Fidel dies, Raul will be weakened. When Raul dies, the Castro regime will die. What comes after them is unclear.

    Cuba may transition to a Chinese model state-capitalist system, with the Cuban people sold as slave labour to foreign corporate partnerships. Others hope that Cuba will be able to transition peacefully into a democratic system where the human rights and freedoms of the people will be respected. But I do not believe the current ruling elite have any interest in seeing that happen. Dictatorships do not leave peacefully. Therefore the most likely event is that the whole rotten system will crumble into chaos. The powerful will grab what money they can and fly away, leaving the Cuban people to clean up the mess of the last six decades of dictatorship.

  • Back around 2000, Georgie Ann Geyer in her book on Fidel :
    “Guerilla Prince ” , she too predicted that when Fidel was no longer ruling that Cuba’s revolution would fold like a house of cards.
    That was 14 years ago
    Fidel retired about six years ago and is not involved at all in the day-to-day activities of the government .
    You live in a world of wishful thinking .
    Fidel educated the Cuban people during and after the revolution and the Cuban people took his teachings to heart making the revolution secure in its grass-roots support no matter who is president.
    It makes Raul’s job easier.

  • Having read about three books of Fidel’s speeches, I can attest to his marvelous grasp of economic, history and how to defeat imperialism.
    I recently reread one speech /interview with a U.S. magazine in which he repeated that Cuba cannot and never had tried to foment revolution as the USG and people like you claim because if the conditions for revolution are not there, it is impossible to create them .
    Likewise, he said that when the conditions are right, nothing can stop a revolution.
    Those are things and insights that you lack Moses. and so you really don’t have the intellectual authority to denigrate his speeches.
    You might want to read a few and TRY to find an error of fact …but you can’t and won’t .
    The bulk of the Cuban poor at the time of the revolution were illiterate and pamphlets and posters would have been to no avail in the revolution and it was Fidel’s speaking ability that taught the principles of revolution and socialism to the Cuban people .
    His hours-long speeches were listened to and taken to heart by a people who had been waiting a long time for those messages.
    As has been said, Raul is not the speechmaker that Fidel was and he is playing down his importance I would guess to make a transition to a broader-based leadership model than the present top-dog -in-a-crises ( the U.S. war on Cuba) model currently employed.

  • Here is a key point. While Fidel likely does not involve himself in the day-to-day management of the country, it is his “gravitas” that sustains Raul’s credibility. Absent the implied support of his older brother, Raul would be forced to rely solely on the brute force of his military to rule Cuba. As long as Fidel draws breath, Raul is able to piggyback his brother’s legacy to justify the legitimacy of his reforms. Cuba is a very different place when Fidel dies.

  • Can we not look at this in a positive angle? Let me start with a disclaimer that I am not Cuban, I have only been to Cuba once early this year as a tourist (and absolutely fell in love with the place), and my views may not be a true reflection of what Cubans feel/go through everyday.
    Okay, so looking at this with a positive angle: Fidel Castro does not hold an official government position, he is now an adviser to the president Raul. The man is quite old, and he has a vast experience and has been a major figure since revolution and even before that. Hence, his speeches/book are translated into other languages so as to spread the word. Raul Castro is the president, and the president should mainly be concerned with governance, rather than adopt propaganda agenda. And furthermore, Spanish is spoken in a lot of countries around the world – the whole of South America, barring Brasil, many parts in USA, Europe too speak the language. Hence it might have been retained in the original language. As for the dynamics between them, lets say power struggle exists between 2 brothers even in civilian families, so it is probable that it exists between Fidel and Raul. Given my experiences in Cuba, I think the focus should be what good the government has done, compared to previous regime, and also compare it with other so-called “socialist” countries and capitalist countries. Nothing was built in a day.

  • True. Fidel has aways been the true narcissist of the two, demanding admiration and obedience from his little brother, who has always been more than willing to provide it. The crybaby’s hero is an apt description of that psychodynamic.

    Who is in charge now? Ultimately, it’s Raul. But he is still psychologically and politically indebted to his big brother and most certainly consults him on important matters. As Circles pointed out, Raul has moved the governing policy in a new direction. Would Fidel have done the same thing? We cannot say for certain. We do know that over the decades Fidel listened to Raul’s advice when it suited him and ignored it when it did not. As Fidel’s decline continues, that relationship has reversed.

  • WTF

  • Raul speeches are clearly directed at the Cuban people. Never known for his statesman qualities, his speeches add nothing to the body of knowledge in international affairs. Absent Fidel’s efforts, Raul would likely have become a guajiro farmer. Fidel, on the other hand, has managed to tap into the desires of lesser men who have tried and failed to capture the brass ring of fame and fortune. He represents the unspoken excuses held in the hearts of these men that the reasons behind their failures are external and owed to the excesses of imperialism and US politics. He is the crybaby’s hero. Because of this there will always be an audience for his diatribes. As long as Capitalism breeds winners and losers, the losers will want to read what Fidel mutters. For this reason, because losers come from many languages, Fidel’s blather will be translated widely.

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