Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Cuba Libre

For all we know, Castro may already be dead. The last Stalinist lion of the Cold War will be gone. Could it be that the whole Cuban Communist system implodes? Think velvet revolutions in Eastern Europe like Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Baltics, etc.

This may be wishful thinking, but it is worth thinking about. Capitalism and democracy could come to Cuba a lot faster than we think. Or, Raoul Castro comes to power and starts doing business with the U.S. Mary O'Grady of the WSJ thinks Raoul and the military will want to expand trade and tourism, perhaps in return for freeing political prisoners and human rights dissidents who were jailed mercilessly in the 2004-2005 crackdown.

The Bush administration might lift the trade embargo in exchange for certain concessions. In that sense, the Cuba transition might be more like China. Ms. O'Grady believes that Raoul thinks that beans are more important than guns for the Cuban people. So maybe we can do business with them.

Art Laffer wants an Eastern Bloc-style privatization in Cuba with a low flat tax-rate and dollarization. Again, think Slovakia or the Baltics. There are breathtaking possibilities in all this. We'll just have to wait and see.

Of course, the new real monster is Hugo Chavez, who wants to be another Castro. So far, the U.S. doesn't have a clear policy toward Chavez and his oil-backed mischief. Russia is arming Chavez to the teeth. Venezuela is our biggest import oil source. Where's the CIA now that we need them?