International News

Fidel Castro "Back in Charge" of Cuba, Says Newsweek

Even though Raul Castro remains President of Cuba in name, Newsweek reports that for all intents and purposes Fidel is "back in charge" of the communist island, putting an end to many of his brother's flirtations with reform and modernization.

Despite his convalescence far from public view, Fidel is once again the arbiter on all critical matters facing the state, says Brian Latell, a former CIA analyst and now a senior research associate at the University of Miami. "I think Fidel decided that Raúl was going too far, that Raúl was playing with fire," he says. As evidence, Latell points to recent shuffling of the leadership ranks that he considers an affront to Raúl and to Fidel's backsliding commentary in more than 100 "Reflections" he has published in the Cuban press during the past year. Any hope of warmer relations with the U.S. has been dashed, says Latell. "I don't see any progress possible in the foreseeable future."

Fidel stepped down as the official head of the country in 2008 after intestinal problems, but it appears that his health situation has improved and he's picking away at the more open policies of the younger brother that replaced him.

After Raul claimed that "everything" was on the table in negotiations with the US, Fidel wrote a column claiming that his brother had been "misinterpreted." A recent shake up in leadership in the party also suggests that Fidel is reasserting his power.

While Raul, admiring China's model, was prepared to break with Fidel's economic policies in order to lift the country out of depression, Fidel, it's claimed, has blocked efforts at reform. El Jefe may also be behind the recent pressure on dissident bloggers and journalists.

Though his health is still grave and he's unlikely to take back an official position within the government, it seems that until Fidel is dead there will be no major reforms in Cuba.

[Newsweek: Fidel Castro Is Back in Charge]

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Kyle Munzenrieder