Obama rescues communism in Cuba

Make no mistake: an existential crisis for the communist regime of Cuba has been brewing, and President Obama has just thrown the nation a lifeline.  President Raul Castro is 83 years old, and despite the glories of socialist medicine, he is not immortal.  Brother Fidel is no longer an active political factor.  A succession crisis looms when Raul meets his ultimate fate. 

But even more immediately, Cuba’s basket-case economy is sustained by help from Venezuela and Russia.  Both nations are facing economic crises, owing to their dependence on oil exports to provide government revenues and sustain their otherwise unproductive economies.  As Silvio Canto noted on the eve of this announcement, Venezuela’s regime could well fall.  Even if President Maduro manages to keep a lid on the opposition, he will be in no position to provide economic aid to his communist brethren in Cuba.  And in Russia, Putin has a very full plate of his own, with costly military maneuvers, serious inflation, and a possible economic depression coming in the wake of catastrophic currency problems and an interest rate hike to the teens, necessary to prevent the complete collapse of the ruble.

A perfect storm was brewing that could have meant the end of communism in Cuba.  The more than half century of hemispheric Cold War was about to pay off.

And now President Obama has short-circuited this historic opportunity.  The regime is no doubt already telling its people that the Yanquis have capitulated and accepted the legitimacy of the regime.  There is no point holding out the hope of change that has been so carefully nurtured for decades. 

The hopes and prayers of Cubans yearning for freedom have been dashed.  I am old enough to recall the joy and gratitude of Eastern Europeans freed from the Soviet yoke by President Reagan’s Cold War victory.  The Cuban people will experience no such liberty, and Cuba’s communists have been given a new source of desperately needed foreign exchange and international legitimacy.

President Obama has gotten no concessions from Cuba in return for giving them what they most fondly desire and desperately need.  One can only conclude that he didn’t want any.