ONE OF the singular moments in a dictatorship is its end point. And for Fidel Castro and Francisco Franco those points converge revealingly-indicating a possible future for Cuba after its leader's demise. True, there are some notable differences, but ultimately their fates, or more specifically that of Francoism and Castroism, will more than likely prove that the issue is less when each leader dies physically, so much as when their ideologies perish politically.
IN HIS day, Franco was heralded as the dictator who had held power for the longest time period: nearly forty years. Castro is coming hard upon fifty years of rule. Both dictators assumed power after a preliminary period of armed struggle with a domestic enemy: Franco from 1936 to 1939, fighting against Juan Negrín López and the Popular Front; and Castro from 1956 to 1959, combating Fulgencio Batista and his Military Front.
Castro followed the trail blazed by Franco in the consolidation of power-the elimination of political opposition, the institutionalization of single-party rule, a repressive police system that created a groundswell of exile life when possible and prison life when unavoidable, and a cult of personality for maximum leadership. Castro fused government and political functions to a much greater extent than did Franco; yet, five years after coming to power, Franco combined the positions of head of state, prime minister and leader of the Falangist movement-and enjoyed sovereign legislative authority to boot.