This story is interesting — and inevitable, as Castro is very old and bound to die soon no matter what — but nerve-wracking at the same time. Castro is evil, but that doesn’t mean his death will be a net gain for Cuba.
Castro rules by charisma (after an initiative based on the notion of upping sugar cultivation to 10 million tons to create jobs destroyed the economy decades ago, he gave a tearful apology and volunteered to resign, and onlookers said no), and there is no doubt that after 50 years communism will be hard to maintain under a different ruler. But that doesn’t mean democracy will come.
Future leaders may clamp down into further totalitarianism to maintain control, or they could war amongst themselves, resulting in a failed or at least divided state. Neither of these is preferable to communism, and before Castro Cuba wasn’t exactly the most revolution-resistant place around.
It’s impossible to predict the future, and we should all hope that representative government can make some progress. Lifting the embargo might be one way to Westernize the country and keep the economy going, though a strong economy could also entrench whatever leader Castro installs, probably his brother.
Robert VerBruggen blogs at http://robertsrationale.blogspot.com.