Jeffrey Goldberg is in Cuba, and has filed a series of fascinating reports. Most recently, Fidel Castro told him that the Cuban economic model doesn’t work, even in Cuba.
Ponder that for a moment: Castro has ruled Cuba for more than 51 years. He imposed on that country a cruel tyranny, jailed or murdered those who dared disagree with him, and installed a Communist economic system that has reduced Cuba to abject poverty. The last 50 years have been great for Fidel, however. Along with bedding many of the island’s most beautiful women, he has been a thief of epic proportions, having possibly made off with a higher percentage of his country’s wealth than any tyrant in history, and having thereby landed on Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people (unearned income category). But all of that was justified by American and European liberals, not to mention Fidel and his Cuban courtiers, on the ground that he was bringing a wonderful socialist system to Cuba. Free medical care!
Even more striking was something he said at lunch on the day of our first meeting. We were seated around a smallish table; Castro, his wife, Dalia, his son; Antonio; Randy Alonso, a major figure in the government-run media; and Julia Sweig, the friend I brought with me to make sure, among other things, that I didn’t say anything too stupid (Julia is a leading Latin American scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations). … [D]uring the generally lighthearted conversation (we had just spent three hours talking about Iran and the Middle East), I asked him if he believed the Cuban model was still something worth exporting.
“The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore,” he said.
So, on the verge of death, Fidel is now willing to say, never mind–it was all a mistake. But not for him, of course.