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The official blog of Fausta's Blog Talk Radio show.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cuba's non-cooperation campaign, Panama's canal, Brazil's second round, and other LA items

Cuba: the non-cooperation campaign: Mary Anastasia O'Grady reports on the latest trend in resistance: Cubans Begin to Just Say No
At this time the military seems to be loyal to Raul. Nevertheless, the dictator in waiting has at least two reasons to be worried. The first is Hugo Chávez, who pours an estimated $2 billion into the Cuban economy annually and seems to believe that he is the rightful revolutionary successor to Fidel. Rumor has it that attitude is not going down too well with Raul or his men. As Brian Latell, former CIA analyst and author of "After Fidel" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), pointed out this week: "It may also be reasonable to speculate that Raul and his military commanders feel contempt for the mercurial and often bizarre Venezuelan, who rose no higher than lieutenant colonel in the decidedly less professional and accomplished Venezuelan military."

Fold into this mix the tension that already exists between elements of the regime that see themselves as ideologically pure and loyal to Fidel and Raul's army, which seems to enjoy making money -- as Mr. Latell describes so well in his book -- and all kinds of complications arise.

Yet Hugo and the fidelistas might be the least of Raul's troubles. Less noticed by the international press but at least as threatening are the island's dissidents, who are once again stirring things up, this time with their "non-cooperation campaign." While conventional wisdom discounts the movement as weak, disorganized and easily infiltrated, every action of the government suggests that popular resistance to the regime is spreading, even after a brutal wave of repression was unleashed more than a year ago.

It is also worth noting that Lula, a left-wing president of a country that has traditionally supported the Cuban dictatorship, has publicly lamented Castro's failure to democratize. That doesn't bode well for continued international support for the island slave plantation.

Non-cooperation is a strategy aimed at whittling away at the most fundamental tool of every totalitarian regime: fear. The system can survive only if each Cuban believes he is greatly outnumbered by lovers of the revolution and that in speaking out, he is doomed. This is why the regime risked so much bad press to crush the dissidents in March of 2003 in a brutal island-wide crackdown. Intense, debilitating fear must be kept alive if the regime is to survive.

Opponents of the regime also understand the power of fear and it is why they are hopeful about the non-cooperation campaign, which provides a passive way for Cubans to quietly discover solidarity. Rather than calling on citizens to actively rebel against the government, "non-cooperation" asks them simply to refuse to participate in the oppression.
Last Wednesday, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro may have slipped into a coma (related post here). And here I thought he was in a freezer.
Update Val looks at The Home Stretch.

Panama: The biggest Caribbean story of the month, possibly the year: Panama votes to expand the Canal. You must read Publius Pundit's comprehensive round-up. This will affect world trade and international relations for a longer time and with more repercusions than the death of the island-prison's tyrant.

Brazil: second-round elections: In Brazil Campaign, A Barroom Brawl
And a Class War. Presidential Race Spotlights A Big Cultural Divide Between North and South
. The divide is not only cultural, it's economic. The state of Sao Paolo has a greater DGP than the country of Argentina, while the north is poor. The BBC has a video, Brazil election divides nation

Argentina: Twelve years after the bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, prosecutors have charged high-level Iranian officials. Iran, of course, denies the charges. The 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires remains unsolved.
Update Michael Totten has more.

Mexico: No surprise at this reaction.

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