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August 01, 2006


Best wishes for a speedy ... um ...

yeah, for the last year or so I have been worried that Fidel's death could be a big destabilizer here in the Americas.

The Republican party--Jeb Bush in particular--owes a lot of chits to the anti-castro Cubans. Lot of chits.

When their version of Chalabi tells Bush that Fidel's death means it is time to permit the invasion at last, that the returning "Cuban Liberation Fleet" will be welcomed with flowers--well, it's going to be hard to do the right thing and tell Chalabi Cubano to get lost.

In part because it's actually more plausible in this case. I mean the flowers part.

US Cuban policy has been a mess for decades. But this particular administration has an unparalleled record of taking failed states and making them super-failed. No previous administration can match its reverse-Midas touch in that regard.

So we all knew the day would come when Fidel would die and Cuba would have to sober up and pick up the pieces from the long, sickening mistake.

But what a shame if it happens during the reign of the Gang that Can't Shoot Straight.

Instead of South Africa post-apartheid, we'll get: Iraq, Carribean-style. Horrible.

And the effects on domestic politics may be just as significant, and just as debilitating for democracy here.

Ricky, that was my same thought last night when I saw the news on CNBC. To wit, "Jesus, we aren't going to invade Cuba now, are we?"

I'm going to start hammering my Senator and Congressmen to lift the travel ban for Cuba. If Fidel is no longer in power, let's start doing what we can to liberalize their society, rather than antagonize it.

The current administration - and all future administrations intent on hanging on to the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay - need there to be a tyranny in Cuba. One sympathetic to the US would be better, no doubt.

God help the Cubans if they're forced into becoming a failed state in hurricane season. Not a single Cuban died in Hurricane Katrina: that will change if their country is to be run by the Bush administration.

Not a single Cuban died in Hurricane Katrina:

I suppose that might be mostly attributable to the fact that Katrina was a Category 1 storm when it passed by Cuba and South Florida; and that in fact it missed most of Cuba entirely, confining itself to the waters to the north. But I suppose it might also be because Cuba is TEH SOCIALIST PARADISE!!!! Take your pick.

At least ten people in Cuba died as a result of Hurricane Dennis, a month or so before Katrina. I imagine you have a reasonable explanation for that which does not involve "America is teh 5uxx0R?"

I also lurve me the implication that Cuba is not a failed state now. That must be why thousands of people every year attempt to gain entry into Cuba from America, and why its citizens are not permitted to access the Internet. But, hey, they can all read and get free health care, right?

Doesn't 'failed state' have a specific meaning -- a state in which there is no central government capable of exerting control over significant portions of its territory?

You can say plenty of bad things about Cuba, but it's not a 'failed state' in that sense.

No, I know, it just struck me as remarkably silly: "It's only Cuba's government that's keeping the hurricane horrors from the backs of its citizens! Don't let anything happen to it!!" Cuba is by all accounts a miserable, repressive place for the average person to live, and I don't think that a high literacy rate and easy doctor visits are enough to mitigate that.


Compare & contrast



The difference between a failed state & a communist one could not be more obvious.

magic 8 ball says: we'll be friends with Cuba very very soon

Yes, Stewart, again, I'm aware of the difference between a failed state and a "failed state." I was exaggerating for effect, as the image of the Super Hurricane-Deterring Castro Government (Now! With 97% Literacy!!) which won't allow its people to use the internet struck me as exceedingly ludicrous.

I still want to hear Jes's explanation for those Hurricane Dennis deaths, though. Was the lackey in charge of the hurricane-deterring machine asleep?

Phil, could you take a look at his tiny pdf that compares the number of hurricane victims in that vicinity?

My wife works for the Red Cross, dutchmarbel; I'm well apprised of the number of hurricane casualties regionwide. Yes, Cuba has a wonderful Civil Defense system (something remarkably easy to achieve in a totalitarian system -- when the men with the guns say "Get out," you get out).

It has nothing to do with the lack of casualties from Katrina, which was a function of storm strength and location. As amply demonstrated by the Dennis statistics: When Cuba was actually hit head-on by a Cat 4 storm, with only 4% of the US's population, they nevertheless suffered 67% as many deaths.

Also note what your linked PDF is showing: Number of deaths per year per million people exposed to hurricanes.

Some years, Cuba has 10 deaths. Or 15. Or 2. Or, back in the 1930s, 3,000.

Some years, they have zero. Some years, no hurricanes at all make landfall on Cuba. Some years, some low-strength storms just skirt the island.

So nmber of deaths per year per million people exposed is a useless statistic without knowing the details of the underlying components: How many storms per year, on average, make landfall on Cuba, what strength are they when they hit, and how many millions of people are exposed to them when they do?

Florida alone, by the way, has 50% more population than the whole of Cuba does. And a lot more storms make landfall there, to my recollection.

You'd have to compare the population of the area hit of course Phil, otherwise the comparison makes no sense. And if you want to present it as a statistic kind of thing the amount of incidents (death in this case) has to be high enough to draw any statistical conclusions.

Last but not least: the pdf was about 1980-2000

I'm a little surprised at how much people seem to see riding on the illness of Fidel Castro, when Raul is taking over. The brothers have worked hand in hand for half a century, and it is probably fair to say that today's Cuba, for better or worse, is almost as much the product of Raul as of Fidel.

Now Raul doesn't have nearly the charisma of Fidel, so that may put his presidency (acting now, but he's also the official heir apparent if Fidel dies) in somewhat more jeopardy, but as long as he holds power, I would expect absolutely no change in Cuban policy on any significant issue. Yet a lot of commentators - not so much here as elsewhere - seem to be implying that Cuba will be ripe for change the moment Fidel is off the stage. Curious, that.

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