Covering Raul Castro's July 26 hour-long Revolution Day speech, the Washington Post characterized the fill-in dictator's latest speech as one that "hits capitalist notes while placating hard-line party loyalists." But in truth Castro's speech was the typical Communist agitprop fare: empty promises for more pay, a call for harder work from the people, and above all else, blaming the United States for the collectivist economy's failure.
"Wearing his trademark tinted eyeglasses and military uniform, Castro, 76, struck distinctly capitalist notes before tens of thousands of flag-waving Communist Party loyalists," reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia noted in his July 27 story, filed the day before from Camaguey, a city 350 miles east of Havana.
Yet from Roig-Franzia's article itself, it becomes clear Castro is not a Latin incarnation of Milton Friedman. A little more foreign investment is the only capitalist bone to be thrown Cuba's way.
Allowing foreigners to make a profit off of Cuba and allowing Cubans to make a profit off of private business in Cuba are two entirely different things. Sounding a "capitalist note" would line up with the latter while the former is sufficient to prop up an overall socialist regime, such as Castro's, with enough foreign capital to keep the government afloat.
And what about the "placating" hard-liners? It amounted to the usual authoritarian scolding to the masses to work harder:
[H]e also leveled withering criticism at his countrymen for "absurd inefficiencies" in food production that force Cuba to import food and promised unspecified "structural changes."
Caracas, Venezuela-based Bloomberg News reporter Matthew Walters also covered Castro's speech, and his reporting makes it pretty clear that far from accepting responsibility for the regime's failing state-managed economy, the interim dictator blames the United States for its woes:
In today's speech Raul Castro accused the U.S. of encouraging illegal immigration and putting Cubans at risk by failing to issue enough visas. He also blamed U.S. policies encouraging ethanol production for higher prices on food imports.
Sheesh, try to save the planet for Al Gore's sake and you tick off Raul Castro. You can't ever win.