Magazine article Newsweek International

False Friends; Fidel's Newfound Supporters Are Doing Ordinary Cubans No Favors

Magazine article Newsweek International

False Friends; Fidel's Newfound Supporters Are Doing Ordinary Cubans No Favors

Article excerpt

Byline: Raul Rivero (Rivero is a prize-winning journalist and poet who was jailed for political reasons with dozens of other Cuban dissidents in March 2003. He was released from prison on medical grounds in the fall of 2004 and now lives in Madrid.)

Political leaders in Latin America, intoxicated by a bad case of populism, are preparing a safe landing for Fidel Castro and his grim dictatorship. In a region that Castro bloodied with his mad policy of fomenting guerrilla wars, where a number of countries lost worthy citizens in misguided attempts to replicate his armed rebellion in the late 1950s, presidential palaces have been seized by the left through the same democratic means that those insurgents of yesteryear tried to destroy with bombs and bullets.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez provided the first and most important pillar of support to Castro. Now come gestures of solidarity from Evo Morales. The onetime leader of Bolivia's coca farmers views the Cuban president-for-life as a good man and a democrat, and never tires of telling interviewers so. In the backdrop of this dismal tableau, waving flags and full of smiles, are Brazil's Luiz InAcio Lula da Silva, Uruguay's TabarA[c] VAzquez and Argentina's erratic Nestor Kirchner. Bringing up the rear are the Peruvian presidential candidate Ollanta Humala and the front runner in Mexico's presidential campaign, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

This claque of politicians is guilty of the serious crime of flagrant opportunism. To appease their impatient left-wing constituents and maintain a semblance of calm at home, they shake the hands of Cuban officials who have installed a system they themselves reject as a matter of principle. They travel to the Cuban beach resort of Varadero, they express their support for Havana and receive in return Cuban doctors and cigars. …

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