Juan Juan Almeida, 8 February 2016 — Some say that Raúl Guillermo Rodríguez Castro — also known as “the Crab,” “the Grandson-in-Chief,” “Raulito” and even “Arnol-mal” (or Evil Arnold, an ironic nickname referring to the former body builder, actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, and also a slight twist of pronunciation on the Spanish word anormal, or abnormal) — is considered to be among the contenders for the Cuban crown.
I can see that, but a crown without scepter is simply a Pamela.
Inept and dangerous — a bad combination for those who confuse folly with merit — Raul-the-Grandson can exert influence to get foreign businessmen expelled from the country. (According to one headline, “Raul Castro’s Grandson Expels a Spanish Investor from Cuba.”) He can do as he likes without suffering any repercussions.
But there is a huge difference between those who have power and those, like him, who only have access to those who have power. And for the record, this is not just a play on words.
Some time ago I wrote a short profile entitled “Raul Castro’s Racist Grandson.” The grandson’s Paris sideshow led some people to ask me, as someone who knows all too well the cloth from which this family is cut, “What will happen in Havana after this fiasco?” Actually, nothing.
Raul Castro’s visit to France, during which some ten agreements were signed and where the Cuban president awarded his French counterpart Cuba’s highest honors, was a response to what François Hollande had effected on the island in May 2015.*
It is worth noting that Cuba’s leaders have an interest in Hollande because they need his help in securing a favorable treaty with France to restructure Cuba’s debts. Beyond exploring the prospect of new business deals, they are trying to signal to those European countries demanding greater individual freedoms and human rights in Cuba that they will have fewer opportunities than France in the new “business-oriented island.”
I will bet that, if the satirical commentary by the Gallic press and its echo on social networks got Raul and Vilma’s grandson riled up and affected relations between the Castro family and France, the French chancellery will have sent a note verbale (a diplomatic communiqué that is actually written rather than verbal) to the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Relations in an effort to downplay the issue.
There are those well-versed in Cuban affairs who insist on placing Raul Guillermo at the forefront of possible successors to the throne of the Castro clan, a herd made up of uneducated, arrogant individuals, who are short on gray matter and ignorant of the most basic principles governing diplomatic norms, protocols and proper behavior.
*Translator’s note: In May 2015 Cuba announced an oil exploration deal with France in the Gulf of Mexico after the French president, François Hollande, made a historic visit to Cuba in which he called on the United States to end its trade embargo on the Communist-run country.