Raul Castro is feeling the heat.
He flew into an insane rage a few days ago, claiming Cuba is the target of unfair condemnation around the world prompted by the death of political dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo from a hunger strike. Recalling the 1962 Cuban missile crisis that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war, he vowed that Cuba would sooner "disappear" than submit to pressure from abroad and "blackmail" from other hunger strikers who have taken up Zapata Tamayo's cause.
These are not the words of a cool and assured leader but rather someone who sees the walls closing in. The crisis, as he admitted in the more-rational part of his speech to the Young Communist Union, is not only political but also economic. He said roughly one out of four workers in Cuba's state-run economy is superfluous and that Cuba must "update the economic model" or face disaster.
The problem is that this tired and aging tiger cannot change its stripes. Finding a real job for one million idle workers in state-run enterprises is impossible for a country that can't attract investment, doesn't believe in free markets and doesn't have the money to compensate for money-losing enterprises. "To spend more than we take in puts the survival of the revolution at risk," Castro warned.
It is likewise impossible for the regime to act sensibly to resolve the political crisis sparked by hunger strikes.
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