31 January 2007

The Shadow

Seen in a video, a shadow of his former self, Fidel also hangs like a nefarious shadow over Raul and his new regime.

Raul and his cronies know that they need to make some changes since they have gone out on a limb and publicly raised the expectations that economic reforms are in the making.

The Miami Herald today reads the tea leaves under the shadow and points to Lage, the once sidelined reformer, who is expected to take on a more prominent role.

..... experts agree that Lage's heightened profile is a sign of a Cuba to come: one under Raúl, where an economic overhaul could be welcomed.
Once on the edges of the Cuban limelight, Lage has represented Cuba at most international gatherings, from presidential summits to inaugurations, and recently headed a top-level delegation to Caracas to sign a string of agreements with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Cuba's top ally and financial backer.

''Lage is key in all this,'' said Wayne Smith, a former chief of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana and critic of U.S. Cuba policy. ``Lage had been sort of put in the back seat, because he wanted to move ahead with economic reforms and Fidel didn't. Raúl comes in and makes Lage his right-hand man. He's been brought out of the closet, so to speak.''

...hahaha Raul "out of the closet, so to speak.'' in the same sentence. Wayne made a funny.

Cuba watchers have been pointing to Lage's new found prominence for some time.

The articles touches on the Ramiro Valdes/Raul Castro "partnership" saying that although they are rivals, they were forced to come together in these uncertain times.

``The fact that . . . these two hated guys could come together and hold hands tells you something: in a moment of uncertainty, they will come together.''

I agree with other analysts who believe that it is more of a partnership due to a power struggle where Raul gave Valdes a share of the power to keep him close. Mobsters keep their friends close and their enemies closer.

Although experts wonder whether Raúl Castro named Valdés so he could keep his enemies close, they note that it nevertheless is a sign of closing ranks.

Interestingly, the "Tropical Taliban" appears to be losing influence.

The lower profile is important, because Pérez Roque is a key member of Fidel's inner circle. He's among the hard-liners dubbed Talibans for their strict allegiance to communism.

''He was like a son to Fidel,'' said Susan Kaufman Purcell, director of the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami. ``He has apparently been pushed aside. Raúl doesn't want totally devoted protégés of Fidel.''

Also playing lesser roles in the past few months have been Ricardo Alarcón, president of the National Assembly, and Young Communists leaders Hassan Pérez and Otto Rivero, Cuba watchers said.

One thing is certain, though, nothing is going to happen until the shadow is gone and that might take a while.

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