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February 27, 2008
The Times Rolls out Red Carpet for Raul Castro
The New York Times embraced Cuba's new/old dictator Raul Castro with a stunningly fawning piece reminiscent of the way they used to wax eloquently about his brother Fidel:
Mr. Castro’s decision to begin his tenure by meeting the Vatican’s top diplomat, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, a possible go-between with the United States and Europe, reflects his practical, no-nonsense style as well as his greater willingness to put ideology aside to achieve his goals than his brother often showed. The article uses all the right words that the Times has used for decades to describe communist dictators. He's "pragmatic" and "practical." He's a "no-nonsense" guy who will put "ideology aside" to get things done.
Mr. Castro, who is 76 years old, is hardly a fresh face to Cubans, having served as the defense minister for the past half century. Many people doubt that he intends to upend his brother’s legacy. Yet he does seem inclined to govern more pragmatically than his more doctrinaire and romantic brother, who ran this country for 49 years as if it were his own business, signing off on almost every government decision.
Raúl Castro has said the government needs to shrink and become more compact. He has promised “structural changes” and “big decisions.” “We have to make our government’s management more efficient,” he said Sunday, adding, “We have to plan well, and we cannot spend more than we have.”
The Times probably said the same thing about Honecker in East Germany when he came to power. Of course, that was before he gave orders to "shoot to kill" people trying to escape West Berlin.
Just how does the Times know that Raul wil govern more "pragmatically?" He's already basically making the trains run on time:
Since he became acting president after Fidel Castro fell ill and disappeared from public view in July 2006, Raúl Castro has sought to improve public transportation and shake up the state-controlled dairy monopoly. He also shocked people when he acknowledged that the average salary of about $19 a month was too little to live on. As he took office Sunday, he raised the possibility of revaluing the Cuban peso to give salary-earners greater buying power. Raúl Castro’s decision on Sunday to put his closest friends and loyalists in the major positions of vice president and defense minister also suggests that he has control of the government, even though he has promised to consult Fidel Castro on important matters."Shocking" that a communist told the truth? I guess that says it all there.
The people have a little better idea of what's in store for them:
A young man stood in Havana’s central park on Monday, scanning the faces of the new government leaders, his face scrunched up in puzzled concentration. When a reporter asked him what he thought of the new president, he muttered, “It’s good,” rattled the paper shut and marched quickly away, casting a furtive glance at a nearby police officer. Yeah, but at least they have national health care.
“Everyone is afraid to talk,” said a student sitting on a park bench nearby who identified himself only as Alejandro. “This is the time when the people should go to the street, but they are afraid. My country is like a prison.”