August 12, 2002

Interesting Info From the H...

Interesting Info From the Highest-Ranking Cuban Defector in a While: 56-year-old Alcibiades Hidalgo, who served as chief of staff in Raul Castro's Defense Ministry, and was ambassador to the United Nations in 1992-93, made it to South Florida on a boat July 29, and gave a public debriefing of sorts on Sunday. Among the interesting items:

Hidalgo said Castro, who turns 76 today, has differences with his brother Raul, 71, who is defense minister and the second ranking official in the Council of State and the Council of Ministers.

Although Raul is the heir apparent, Hidalgo said he drinks too much, has health problems and doesn't sleep much. Fidel, in contrast, takes care of himself, he said.

Raul would be less inclined toward one-man rule than Fidel, would be more disposed toward economic reform and would show greater flexibility in relations with the United States, Hidalgo said.

Hidalgo got to know Raul Castro well during the 1980s, when he served as his chief of staff. The Cuban military, under Raul's direction, has become an economic powerhouse through its involvement in tourism and other dollar-generating activities, he said.

From what I've read and heard about Raul, he is a dumb and vicious thug, and Cubans don't take him seriously whatsoever as an heir apparent. It's interesting to hear that he would be "less inclined toward one-man rule" (though that could be a purely pragmatic choice, since he does not cast the spell over Cubans that Fidel does), and that he would be "more disposed toward economic reform." My uninformed impression is that the Defense Ministry has just been muscling in, mafia-like, on any activity that produced dollars, rather than developing some kind of love for free markets.

Posted by at August 12, 2002 11:53 PM
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