So the top news story on my cell phone this morning was that Fidel Castro has announced that he is retiring from the dictatorship of Cuba.  I can’t help but wonder, even though the United States is overcommitted in the Middle East, that the State Department won’t forment an extreme free-market revolution in Cuba.  It seems to be the last untouched Latin American/Caribbean socialist state, and Cuba has been such a long-standing enemy of the U.S. that has become somewhat iconic in that regard.  I think that at least in that sense, it stands to reason that the State Department will be all up in Cuba’s grill pretty soon.   I don’t think Raul Castro is as much of an iron-fisted dude as Fidel was.

What’s important is that all these civil rights advocates and allies of Cuban refugees are getting all hopeful for nothing.  If history teaches us anything, Cuba is in for another forty or fifty years of economic misery — this time via Western exploitation — before it stabilizes.  And that isn’t even guaranteed — look at Chile.  I’m not entirely sure what Cuba has for Western corporations to buy off, but wherever there’s anything, you’re bound to run into it.  It’ll be interesting to see this process unfold yet again in Latin America, even though it’s been shown that it doesn’t work.

What should be even more interesting is in the face of right-wing takeovers in countries like Chile, Argentina and Bolivia, and the deposition of socialist governments, Castro’s Cuba is the one great holdout.  I think that part of it is that Fidel was a ruthless son of a bitch, and part of it was the direct involvement of the Soviet Union.  Without those two factors, I don’t think it’ll be long before Raul is faced with American-backed counterrevolutionaries who will institute extreme freemarket policies.

I think I’ve been reading too much Naomi Klein but that’s the first thing I thought about when I heard about Castro stepping down…