Are Fidel Castro's Days Numbered?

Written by Angelique van Engelen - 4/25/2005

The Cuban leader Fidel Castro is making attempts to drag his country out ofrepparttar guagmire he has landed it in since rejecting adopting market economic principles when its sponsor,repparttar 135902 Soviet Union, fell apart in 1991. Even though his way of doing it -tellingrepparttar 135903 Cuban population to save on energy and work harder- is not immediately likely to effect much change, perhaps his efforts evidence thatrepparttar 135904 Cuban leader is losing hope of an impending end torepparttar 135905 US trade embargo on his own terms.

The hours long speeches held in recent days byrepparttar 135906 Cuban 78-year old leader show that he's by no means through with Leninist-style Marxism governing his rather undreamlike Caribbean island's economy. The changes thatrepparttar 135907 president is making sincerepparttar 135908 beginning of March are a sign however thatrepparttar 135909 Cuban leader is worried that he might be overthrown byrepparttar 135910 mob if he allowsrepparttar 135911 economic situation to get even more untenable.

Castro's renewed drive to doctor his country's economy is almost certainly too little too late givenrepparttar 135912 dire situation this country is in. Real change effecting a flourishing economy will likely only happen whenrepparttar 135913 country's rid of him, yetrepparttar 135914 leader is still firmly in command andrepparttar 135915 population's been battered into submission so much thatrepparttar 135916 ordinary Cuban has given up by now of hoping that there's going to be a way out other than escape.

Like any of us,repparttar 135917 leader could of course pass away tomorrow, but at 78 Castro is one of those old hands that is as unlikely to just die as he has been unlikely to let go of his leadership, many say has been so strong due mainly torepparttar 135918 stringent US embargo against this country. Political analysts hold it for near impossible thatrepparttar 135919 country will see another dictator after a Castro departure fromrepparttar 135920 stage.

Judging where it all will go will inrepparttar 135921 near term depends on what you consider to be progress. Onrepparttar 135922 one hand,repparttar 135923 Cuban population has suffered so much it by now must have developed some means to get by whateverrepparttar 135924 circumstances dictate. Onrepparttar 135925 other hand, real change might be taking place albeit very slowly. The renewed focus onrepparttar 135926 economy that Fidel has been displaying since 8 March might reveal slight evidence that he's willing to water downrepparttar 135927 Marxist-Leninist wine somewhat.

The changes in economic policies are aimed at increasing exports and improvingrepparttar 135928 conditions of trade withrepparttar 135929 outside world. Cuba, Castro himself admitted already inrepparttar 135930 early 1990s, is going throughrepparttar 135931 most difficult period of its history as a republic. And since then, it's gone downhill even more. The widespread hunger and hardship has continued. Most ofrepparttar 135932 people are unable to look further thanrepparttar 135933 next day, one academic report fromrepparttar 135934 University of Texas some ten years ago. It termedrepparttar 135935 Cubans as suffering from 'societal depression' which disallows people to think a better future is at all possible. Imaginerepparttar 135936 situation now.

The Cuban leader routinely blamesrepparttar 135937 U.S. embargo for Cuba's perils and reiteratedrepparttar 135938 accusations only last week. Terming itrepparttar 135939 "criminal blockade" he believes thatrepparttar 135940 US isrepparttar 135941 sole factor spoiling Cuba's chances of ever becoming a healthy economy. The outside world agrees with him. And what's more, most observers believe thatrepparttar 135942 vicious treatment byrepparttar 135943 US is to blame for this leader's longstanding rule, which has seen some ofrepparttar 135944 worst human rights abuses ever.

Fidel Castro has held on to his power by fiercely battlingrepparttar 135945 US and playing it off againstrepparttar 135946 Soviets since his 1959 communist coup in which he displaced another dictator, Fulgencio Batista, yet it might now begin to dawn even on this leader that perhaps his days are going to be numbered if he doesn't make really convincing changes to better things. The US' May 2004 decision to tighten its embargo, designed to deliver another 'final' blow to this repulsive leader, might very slowly begin to pay off.

Because Fidel Castro's attempts to bring about change might berepparttar 135947 swan song of a man who is running out of ideas. He is trying to improve productivity at home by tellingrepparttar 135948 population to save on all forms of electricity and by making empty promises that a turnaround will happen if measures like these are stuck to. Economists that describerepparttar 135949 situation say that Cuba needs to dramatically improve on social security beforerepparttar 135950 domestic economy can reasonably be expected to pick up again only slightly.

There is hardly any chance of structural changes that will benefitrepparttar 135951 Cuban economy inrepparttar 135952 near term, but a few positive outside factors exist. They include high prices of nickel, which Cuba exports, and a steady rise in tourism revenues. The outlook forrepparttar 135953 much battered sugar industry is not very hopeful because of low world market sugar prices, and shrinking volumes due to a shortage of spare parts for machinery, lack of adequate fertilization, breakdowns inrepparttar 135954 transportation system, and lack of fuel for field operations and mill boilers.

There is growing support insiderepparttar 135955 US to lift its embargo against Cuba sincerepparttar 135956 country is not posing a military threat and sincerepparttar 135957 embargo is not proving effective in removingrepparttar 135958 leader but only starvingrepparttar 135959 Cubans. It is argued that liftingrepparttar 135960 embargo and a few clever moves might effect justrepparttar 135961 sort of speedy transition to a market economy that if it took off would possibly strengthenrepparttar 135962 people and give them just that much hope to actually stand up torepparttar 135963 dictatorship in place. For a while in 1996, this looked a possibility, but recent governments have in matter of fact only worked out opposite measures. The US has recently tightened its 1992 Cuban Democracy Act which was initially adopted to bring down Castro "within weeks," according torepparttar 135964 bill's primary advocate Robert Torricelli. Last year in May,repparttar 135965 US government reducedrepparttar 135966 number of visitsrepparttar 135967 1 million or so Americans with ties in Cuba could pay their relatives in Cuba. Andrepparttar 135968 White House furthermore also restricted their remittances to Cuba.

The reason for tightening up on remittances and visits to Cuba has beenrepparttar 135969 perception inrepparttar 135970 US that Cuban leaders whenever they were underrepparttar 135971 impression thatrepparttar 135972 embargo was imminently lifted would tend to feel encouraged to resist any real change.

The 1996 Helms-Burton act is particularly intended to dampen such illusions because it spells out exactlyrepparttar 135973 kind of changerepparttar 135974 US wants to see onrepparttar 135975 ground. The conditions and terms for U.S. assistance to a post-Castro Cuba are outlined, as well as what markers will be employed to determine that a genuine transition to market economic principles is occurring. First of course isrepparttar 135976 departure from power of Fidel Castro and his brother Raú, currently commander in chief ofrepparttar 135977 Revolutionary Armed Forces.

The response by Castro has been characteristic ofrepparttar 135978 cat and mouse game that has been played betweenrepparttar 135979 two nations since 1960. He renewed his ban on US dollars. Yetrepparttar 135980 move is bound to have been inspired more than by a wish to retaliate politically. Cuba's shortage of hard currency, already serious beforerepparttar 135981 present crisis, has long been termed critical, yet even by Cuban standards a crisis was at hand last October, when Castro bannedrepparttar 135982 use of dollars throughoutrepparttar 135983 country. People were givenrepparttar 135984 chance to change their dollars for equivalent amounts of pesos which were said to be convertible from then on against a commission of a grand 10%.

The Repercussions Of Bringing Former Terrorists To Mainstream Politics

Written by Angelique van Engelen

Today, in many countries’ political realities, tribalist and nationalist or globalist forces clash fiercely, undermining chances of peace and democracy. This is particularly topical inrepparttar Middle East, where efforts by established leaderships to discourage armed conflict have reached a new phase, in which both Hezbollah and Hamas, organizations labeled ‘terrorist’ byrepparttar 135901 US, are nudged to start thinking about participation in mainstream politics.

The number of countries inrepparttar 135902 world atrepparttar 135903 moment that are in some form of transition is higher than some ten years ago, and in some ways more efforts are made to resolve situations that threaten stability. Andrepparttar 135904 moves of all involved parties are not without major-league risks.

By finally addressing security issues by making a clean sweepthrough,repparttar 135905 Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is slowly shifting into gear, startingrepparttar 135906 clampdown on Palestinian insurgency that has long been called for. he has even told Hamas fighters publicly to give up their arms, This was a first forrepparttar 135907 president who until now has been anything but clear on security issues. The Hamas leaders according to a report inrepparttar 135908 London Asharq Al Awsat paper are reportedly planning to return to Gaza afterrepparttar 135909 Israelis have withdrawn.

The newspaper report detailed thatrepparttar 135910 leaders are likely to move their group’s political bureau to Gaza as soon as Israel transfers control overrepparttar 135911 border crossings torepparttar 135912 Palestinian Authority. "When a militia turns into a political party, I believerepparttar 135913 issue of a need for arms becomes irrelevant," Abbas was quoted as saying. "There will be only one authority, one law and one legal [armed force]," according torepparttar 135914 recently elected Palestinian leader, who played downrepparttar 135915 risks involved inrepparttar 135916 operation, saying that this has happened many times before in history.

Hamas leaders however deemed it necessary to reiterate that they have no intention of disarming at all. "Our fingers will remain onrepparttar 135917 rifle triggers untilrepparttar 135918 removal ofrepparttar 135919 occupation," Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri said, according torepparttar 135920 Israeli Al Haaretz paper. Even though Hamas has participated inrepparttar 135921 elections recently, Masri doubted that this meansrepparttar 135922 members are actually going to function as such. It is remarks like these that worryrepparttar 135923 international community very much. US President George W. Bush has been said to be waiting with invitingrepparttar 135924 Palestianian leader Abbas until he has got something of substance to report. Perhaps an invitation will finally be extended soon now. The Palestinian leader has installed a hardliner as new intelligence chief. Tareq Abu Rajab, who used to be deputy intelligence chief, is known to have played an important role in a crackdown onrepparttar 135925 militant group Hamas. Hamas, which has participated in municipal elections already, might see next July’s municipal elections turn out in its favor. “Extrapolating fromrepparttar 135926 present point in time, Hamas I believe would gain between 30 and 50 percent inrepparttar 135927 elections torepparttar 135928 Palestinian Legislative Council in July. Fateh is in total disarray and is searching for its lost identity”, said Matti Steinberg, an Israeli former security advisor to two heads ofrepparttar 135929 Israel General Security Service. “Hamas could register considerable gains in elections and possibly demand to play a role inrepparttar 135930 next Palestinian Authority government”, according to Yossi Alpher, a former senior advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The gains thatrepparttar 135931 ‘party to be’ is likely to win are largely due to unhappiness ofrepparttar 135932 Palestine population withrepparttar 135933 Fateh party, which has lost its identity more or less due to dysfunctioning ofrepparttar 135934 PA. This is echoed by Ghassan Khattib,repparttar 135935 Palestinian Authority minister of planning. “It is possible that Hamas, which so far maintains a fundamentalist ideological and extreme political position, will become a pragmatic movement if it hasrepparttar 135936 chance to be part of official politics, locally, regionally and internationally. The rhetoric of Hamas now reminds many of Fateh's rhetoric when it was treated byrepparttar 135937 "legitimate powers" as an "illegal terrorist group". Fateh successfully worked out a trade-off. It was recognized and included inrepparttar 135938 system in return for playing politics withinrepparttar 135939 parameters of international legality”, he says.

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