Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fidel steps down

Fidel Castro, leader of Cuba for more than 40 years, is formally stepping down as President. This marks a real transition for Cuba. It is a complicated country - Castro's attempt to build a functioning socialist state has had mixed results. On the one hand, Cuba has an outstanding system of health care and universal education. On the other hand, Cuba's human rights record is dismal at best. On a third hand, it's a country that got stuck in the "vanguard party" phase of Leninism, and never evolved to give the working class real control. Of course, a lot of the problems Cuba faces are not helped by the American embargo. If Cuba can reconcile its ideological development with a new democratic outlook and a new emphasis on human rights, it could really serve as a global model of socialist development. Of course, in reality, I don't expect Raul Castro to make any real changes, but there's always hope.