Friday, August 18, 2006

Cuba pits 'Plan Raul' against 'Plan Bush'

Yahoo! News

by Isabel Sanchez Thu Aug 17, 5:56 AM ET

HAVANA (AFP) - Cuba's Communist Party reaffirms daily that
Fidel Castro's handover of power to his brother Raul is a plan to stave off any offensive by US President George W. Bush toward a political transition.

Raul Castro has ruled Cuba for two weeks, an unprecedented break in nearly 48 years of Fidel Castro's rule under a steady stream of US threats, real or imagined.

"Cuba's plan opposes the Bush Plan today more actively than ever," said an article published Wednesday in the official daily Juventud Rebelde.

Washington recently unveiled a second report from its Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, created in May 2004 and co-chaired by US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice with the purpose of accelerating political change in Cuba after Fidel.

The plan, approved by Bush, has a section kept secret for reasons of national security. That has sparked Cuban suspicions of likely aggression or even an attack on the regime.

However, on July 31, an ailing Fidel Castro, 80, "temporarily" delegated his powers to Raul, 75. And in a June speech, Raul said only Cuba's Communist Party was Fidel's "worthy heir," and suggested a governing body to assure the regime's stability.

"Hang in there, Commander!" said Rolando Alfonso Borges, head of the Department of Revolutionary Orientation of the Communist Party of Cuba, using a common way to address Castro.

"The revolution is here to stay," he said. "We will defend it tooth and nail if we must, under the leadership of the party that you founded, under the steady direction of Raul."

So Cuba stands up to the US Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, with a program of revolutionary succession with Raul in the lead, should Fidel die or take ill.

"Let's get that into those delirious little heads in Washington and Miami that are planning or building up to a mission against the land of (independence leader Jose) Marti and Fidel," said Juventud Rebelde.

Leaders and followers of the revolution smell danger in the current situation, because Bush has said he would take note of those who get in the way of democracy in Cuba.

"We will support you in your effort to build a transitional government in Cuba committed to democracy, and we will take note of those, in the current Cuban regime, who obstruct your desire for a free Cuba," Bush said on August 3, in his first reaction to news that Castro had undergone intestinal surgery and relinquished power to Raul.

"Whom does Bush, the big, bad wolf, think he is frightening with those words? The Cuban people? Fidel in his sick bed? Or those who have assumed his powers provisionally?" the newspaper said.

"We do not believe that any silliness from the White House tenant would go so far as to think or to try any such thing, knowing that Cubans and their revolutionary leaders have been inured to fear for 47 years now," it said, referring to the 1959 takeover by Castro and the resulting US trade embargoes and attempts to invade the island.

However, the backing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has given Cuba in the form of cut-rate oil has complicated US plans by propping up the regime, perhaps even post-Fidel, analysts told AFP.

"He certainly will try to maintain Cuban socialism to the extent possible. He will do so through oil subsidies," said Michael Shifter, vice president of the Inter American Dialogue, a Washington think tank.

Ana Faya, of the Canadian Foundation for the Americas, said, "Castro's successor, whether it is Raul or another person named by the party, will have to count on Chavez to remain in power."

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