Fidel Still Spiting the US Castro's Last Victory

Washington has thrown hundreds of millions into its efforts to topple Fidel Castro through propaganda. But a recent hospital video and developments in Cuba suggest that the "máximo líder" is still very much in charge.

Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez: "There are absolutely no signs of unrest within the government or society."

Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez: "There are absolutely no signs of unrest within the government or society."

Close to six months after Cuban President Fidel Castro was hospitalized with a grave illness, the United States' Cuba and Latin America policies are threatening to become a fiasco with a multi-million-dollar price tag.

Cuba watchers are accusing Washington of falsely assessing their prospects of fast-tracking democracy in the Caribbean country. Indeed, Washington appears to have wasted hundreds of millions dollars on a democratic political "transition," argues Phil Peters of the US think tank Lexington Institute.

According to Peters, "there are absolutely no signs of unrest within the government or society, no economic disruption and the government is functioning normally." Cuba expert Julia Sweig goes a step further, assessing Fidel's transitioning of power to his brother Raúl as "Castro's last victory."

Washington's obituaries for the Cuban leader appear to have been premature. In a recently released video, the "máximo líder" appears to be in relatively stabile health. It also appears that he has been able to take care of important state business from his hospital room. The video, taken on Jan. 30, shows Castro meeting with Venezuelen President Hugo Chavez.

And what about those rumors of a power struggle? No sign of it: In addition to Chavez, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque and Vice President Carlos Lage -- all members of Castro's senior leadership circle -- also appear in the video.

Washington is also looking a bit impotent in its efforts to politically counter Chavez, who is widely seen to be the ideological heir to the Cuban revolutionary. The election victories by left-wing populists in Ecuador and Nicaragua have merely served to increase Venezuela's influence in the region and fuel Chavez's anti-American policies.

Last week, Chavez made his latest move by announcing the nationalization of oil exploration in the Orinoco basin. One of the main companies hit by the decision is the American firm Exxon.



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