Cuba's Raúl Castro has rocketed up the rankings of Foreign Policy's list of the world's worst dictators. He now sits at fourth in the world, up from just 21st last year. Sure, Castro has done a lousy, despotic job at leadership in the past year, but we can't give him all the credit. His surge in the rankings has just as much to do with recent revolutions as Castro's own incompetence and evil.
The initial list was compiled last year by George B. Ayittey, but since then, the world's dictator scene has undergone a shakeup. Tunisia's Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, and Libya's Moammar Gadhafi have all been deposed. Plus, Ayittey has streamlined the list from 23 entries last year to just six this year. (It's meant as something of an update rather than another in-depth list.) Castro takes fourth place, behind Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. Castro is the only Latin American dictator featured this year.
Ayittey recounts recent violent crackdowns on dissidents as well as Cuba's failing economy.
"The Castro regime, which has for decades relied on its relatively generous welfare state to retain autocratic rule, will now have to rely entirely on state repression," he writes. "It's a very fragile arrangement."
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Which basically means, as Cuba's economy continues to struggle, don't be surprised to see the worst of the Castro regime's dictatorial evil come out to retain control.
Of course, time will only tell if Castro will meet the same fate as Ben Ali, Mubarak, and Gadhafi.
One name missing from this years mini-list: Venezuela's Hugo Chávez. He was 17th in last year's edition.