Cuba-watchers look for signals today
HAVANA — It would be easy for Raul Castro to make headlines in a major Revolution Day speech today. All he has to do is bring up the 52 political prisoners he has agreed to release.
Of course, nothing Cuba’s 79-year-old president says will mean as much as whether elder brother Fidel is standing by his side. A recent spate of appearances by the revolutionary leader after four years of near-total seclusion has everybody talking. Could this be Fidel’s return to the spotlight? “If Fidel is there it will cause a huge stir. It will be very important,’’ said Wayne Smith, a former top American diplomat in Havana and senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for International Policy.
He said Fidel’s presence would make clear to many in Washington that the 83-year-old revolutionary still has a strong hand in affairs of state.
“The thought has been that they are moving toward reforms under Raul, but that they might be moving more energetically if not for the fact that Fidel Castro is still sitting on the porch and Raul is afraid he might not be enthusiastic,’’ Smith said.