London—A Cuban newspaper has harshly criticized the son of retired maximum leader Fidel Castro for having an extravagant lifestyle that included a recent luxury cruise and beach vacation in Greece. It is less surprising that a member of the Castro dynasty, now headed by Fidel’s brother Raul, should be living the high life than the fact that someone had the cojones (look it up) to publish something about it.
The Communist Party provincial newspaper Heraldo de la Habana published a veiled critique, without mentioning any names. Social media fingered exactly who it was: Antonio Castro, Fidel’s youngest son. “Thanks to his father, Gulliver, Jr. travels quite frequently. He appears as a giant enjoying himself on the Mediterranean coast,” the Heraldo wrote. “Sailing on his father’s fleet is a hereditary privilege.” The article went on to criticize Gulliver Jr.’s travels with poor sailors in his homeland left on shore to gaze at seagulls.
The original story was broken by Turkish news agency Dogan who reported that Antonio sailed into the Greek island of Mykonos on a 160-foot yacht and reserved five suites in a hotel for himself, buddies and bodyguards. Dogan posted a video that showed one of Antonio’s bodyguards attacking a reporter who tried to photograph Castro at a restaurant. Antonio is a physician but also has the cushy job of Global Ambassador of the World Baseball Softball Confederation. Your Excellency!
This is not surprising. Cuba’s elite nomenclatura lives well. They reside in confiscated mansions in the leafy Havana districts of Miramar and Siboney. They attend ballet performances at the National Theater and vacation abroad. For years, they have been able to engage in bribery and looting of state run-factories for deals with foreigners and Cubans; soon, with the economic opening to the United States, they will be able to enter into shady business with the yanquis, and even Cuban exiles in Miami they once reviled.
A few years ago, a Cuban critic warned of the coming deluge of corruption. “It has become evident that there are people in government and state positions who are preparing a financial assault for when the revolution falls,” he wrote on the website of the state National Artists and Writers Union of Cuba. “Others likely have everything ready to produce the transfer of state property into private hands, like what happened in the former Soviet Union.” The critic was kicked out of the Communist Party.
Does the veiled public attack on Antonio mean the end of Cuba’s grotesque nepotism?
Doubt it. Antonio Castro is but one of the Castro princes in privileged and even powerful positions. Raul’s son, Alejandro Castro Espín, is already been touted his dad’s successor. He is a colonel in Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces and heads intelligence and counter-intelligence services. More powerful than that, you can’t get.
Raul’s son-in-law, Luis Alberto Rodriguez, oversees 57 armed forces-run companies in Cuba. If you want to do business in Cuba, he’s the man to see. In an interview with Russia Today, Fidel’s youngest kid, Fidelito as he is called, defended Cuba’s dynastic tendency as a “fact of life” and added that, in any case, each country is free to “find its own way.”
Free to find you own way, so long as your name is Castro.
Independent Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez reports on the criticism.
Here’s the scathing Tribuna de la Habana editorial (en espanol).
The next Castro in line.
Last year, I wrote about how the US-Cuban thaw will benefit apparatchiks.