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Phil Peters on Fidel Castro's legacy


11-26-2016 15:29 BJT

Phil Peters is one of America's leading, independent Cuba analysts. He is vice president of the Lexington Institute, a Virginia-based conservative think tank specializing in national security and public policy. His blog, the Cuba Triangle, monitors the developments in the Latin American country.

In a recent interview with CCTV correspondent Michael Voss, Phil Peters shared how he saw Fidel Castro's legacy.

"Fidel Castro's legacy is one of greatness, some will see it as evil, some will see it as good, some will see it in between, but he was certainly a very large figure who put Cuba on a map, in a way it's never been put on a map before and stayed in power much, much longer that anyone envisioned. It drove his enemies crazy in Washington and Miami and projected Cuban power in many ways, far beyond Cuba's borders. Ideologically, in terms of sending doctors all over the world, sending troops to other continents, so he was a very large figure," he said.

"How would you describe the revolution? Who were the winners, the losers?" asked Michael Voss.

Phil Peters: Well the Cuban Revolution absolutely transformed Cuban society. At the beginning by having one party rule by a few years after the revolution, by wiping out the small business class and effectively expelling large numbers of Cubans and it transformed Cuban society. I think it was a huge cost to civil liberties and their continues to be a huge cost in terms of civil liberties.

And there are certainly the one thing the Cuban Revolution has tone is also to provide social services equally to the population especially in terms of healthcare, education, these services are free and universal. They're also fraid. I think they're trying to fix that. But the cost of the Cuban Revolution has been in terms of civil liberties and also economic freedom. Looking ahead of the question is how they're going to address these problems.

Michael Voss: Can the Cuban Revolution survive without Fidel Castro?

Phil Peters: For many years, many people in Washington certainly, maybe those with wishful thinking, thought of Cuba as a one-man show and as a system that depended on Fidel Castro. And when he fell ill in 2006, we thought immediately. In fact, the Bush administration and the officials went in front of the cameras and expected a transition to occur momentarily. Well that didn't happen. One thing we learned when Fidel Castro fell ill and really vanished for months was that it's not a one man show. It's a political system that carried on a normal constitution from the succession of his brother, Raul. Now that the transition is probably trickier. But I don't think the system depends on Fidel Castro. I think we've seen that.

Michael Voss: Are Cubans ready to move on without Fidel Castro? Do you think?

Phil Peters: Yes, I think they are. Right now, it's interesting that with Fidel Castro very much in the background his brother, Raul, has succeeded him and is heading in a very different way. He has very forthrightly said, this economy doesn't work and this model doesn't work. They're trying to fix their economy, fix aspects of the Cuban model that Fidel Castro never would've torched and very importantly giving Cubans a lot of economic freedom and reducing the size of the state. We'll see how that all works the middle of it. But I think the next generation is ready to carry that on.

Michael Voss: What about the US? Can they move on?

Phil Peters: The US is stuck. The US policy is stuck. It's one that correctly stands up for human rights. But also is a big mistake which is to cut off contact between the two societies. There's more travel now. But still, there are restrictions on travel. There's a trade embargo. Then there are all these punitive economic sanctions that attack Cuban financial transactions around the world. I think what the US has achieved more than anything else is an embargo on American influence on Cuba. That's a terrible mistake.

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