Friday, September 10, 2010

What's Castro up to with his confession of communism's failure?

Fidel Castro stunned the world this week by admitting socialism had failed in Cuba. The implication of the dictator's statement is unclear, but one thing isn't: Castro's sycophants have some explaining to do.

Castro, now 84 and semi-retired, made a surprisingly lucid admission about how 52 years of communist dictatorship have ruined his country. "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore," he casually told the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, a reporter he summoned to Havana to tell him his thoughts.

Castro made other noteworthy statements to the reporter — that he regretted urging the Soviet Union to rain nuclear war on the U.S. in 1962, and that he wanted Iran's leader to stop slandering the Jews. But nothing was as arresting as the statement that his life work, the communism he forced on Cuba in 1959 was, in truth, a miserable failure.

Castro's motives in stating the obvious are still unclear. He may be desperate for attention. Or, having turned his country into an impoverished hellhole, he may want the U.S. trade embargo to end.

Cuba scholar Humberto Fontova notes that Castro has made similar offhand statements in the past, and none had any consequences.

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