A long read but worth the time to get a fresh look at the trend for Raul’s Cuba:
This was the first time I was in post-Fidel Cuba. It was funny to think that not long ago, there were smart people who doubted that such a thing could exist, i.e., who believed that with the fall of Fidel would come the fall of Communism on the island. But Fidel didn’t fall. He did fall, physically — on the tape that gets shown over and over in Miami, of him coming down the ramp after giving that speech in 2004 and tumbling and breaking his knee — but his leadership didn’t. He executed one of the most brilliantly engineered successions in history, a succession that was at the same time a self-entrenchment. First, he faked his own death in a way: serious intestinal operation, he might not make it. Raúl is brought in as “acting president.” A year and a half later, Castro mostly recovered. But Raúl is officially named president, with Castro’s approval. It was almost as if, “Is Fidel still . . . ?” Amazing. So now they rule together, with Raúl out front, but everyone understanding that Fidel retains massive authority. Not to say that Raúl doesn’t wield power — he has always had plenty — but it’s a partnership of some kind. What comes after is as much of a mystery as ever.