Did Castro hold back Cuba?

Cuban sign reading: 'To fight against the impossible and win.'

Alongside his depiction as a “brutal dictator”, negative reflections on Fidel Castro since his death on November 25 have focused on his “mismanagement” of the Cuban economy and the consequent “extremes of poverty” suffered by ordinary Cubans. This caricature is problematic – not only because it ignores the devastating economic impact of the United States embargo over 55 years, but also because it is premised on neoclassical economic assumptions. This means that by stressing economic policy over economic restraints, critics can shift responsibility for Cuba’s alleged poverty on to Castro without implicating successive US administrations that have imposed the suffocating … Continue reading

How Fidel Castro helped end Apartheid

Fidel Castro addressing a crowd in Havana, circa 1978.

Many people see the death of Fidel Castro as the end of an era. Yet the Castroite legacy is alive in one form. Cuba has played a key role lending support to national liberation movements around the world. One major site of struggle during this period was Southern Africa. There the Cuban leader backed the ANC to the hilt when Nelson Mandela was widely regarded as a ‘terrorist’. Castro opposed European colonialism and fostered ties with independence leaders. This was not simply tactical, it was a part of an emancipatory process. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the Cuban revolution was really … Continue reading

The Populist Zeitgeist

duterte-the-punisher

Across the Atlantic, Donald Trump is about to stomp into the White House and slap his surname onto the front of the place. Trump has been elected on a platform to end free trade, seal the border with Mexico and get tough on Muslims at home. Far from fascism, Trump stands for the same all-American nativism going back to the Know Nothing movement. Trump is the Platonic form of the sinister buffoon. He is Silvio Berlusconi, Nigel Farage and Louis Bonaparte, fused into one and timesed by several billion dollars. The Donald is the idol of all populist charlatans. A … Continue reading