Latell doesn’t seem to underestimate Raúl as a drunken closet queen as many of us exiles do. He seems to respect Fidel’s younger half brother’s realistic, collegial, behind the scenes management style, not the man.
Raúl's style guarantees that Cuba will be governed differently. He'll rule more collegially than his brother, consulting trusted subordinates and delegating more.
Yet like his brother, Raúl has no intention of opening Cuba to free political speech or participation. While the number of Cubans willing to voice their discontent publicly is on the increase, so too is the brutality of government reprisals against would-be leaders of the dissident movement.
That said, Latell makes a couple of prognostications about the Cuban transition that pretty much parallel my hunches. So woe to him because I’m usually wrong.
I agree with him, that it would be more pragmatic for Raúl to stay in control of the party and the army and leave the presidency to someone else so as to leave the door open for negotiations with the Empire to the north in case Hugo self destructs or decides to pull his subsidies once his mentor dies and he realizes he's not next in line for the Cuban presidency:
Someone who is not named Castro will likely become Cuba's next president.
Politburo member and Vice President Carlos Lage is the leading candidate. A medical doctor 20 years younger than Raúl, Mr. Lage is widely considered an advocate of economic reform.
Then, there’s the issue of the 800 pound gorilla in Venezuela who wants took take over as president of some sort of Cuba-Venezuela federation:
And there is Hugo Chávez. Unlike Fidel, Raúl has no personal rapport with the mercurial Venezuelan president, and surely no desire to be subordinated to another narcissistic potentate just as he is finally close to escaping his brother's grip. But Cuba has become highly dependent economically on Venezuela. The value of the Chávez dole, mostly oil, reached between $3 billion and $4 billion last year, approaching the amounts once provided by the Soviet Union. Raúl would be loath to provoke the Venezuelan. Without his support, the Cuban economy would soon plunge into deep recession.
I agree that Raúl has no love for Chavez especially for a Chavez telling him how to run “his” country. That is why I believe that Havana has been sabotaging Chavez’s get powerful quick schemes -to keep him hanging-but still allowing Chavez to bestow his riches on the Cuban regime in exchange for dictatorial expertise.
The WSJ article has been reprinted here for all you anti-capitalist freeloaders who wont pay for a WSJ subscription