Why Castro Survives

In a rehearsal studio, a young Cuban ballet dancer turns through the air, pivoting as though some invisible power has unfurled him in an arc. Then, without pause, he leaps once, twice, and I gasp at the height of his grandes jetés and then gasp again because his pointed toe is heading right for a barre .

Welcome to Cuba, a country that dazzles and disappoints, where one finds miracles and monsters, but no easy answers.

Cubans recognize the contradictions as readily as any outsider. Yet even as inflation rises and the 77-year-old dictator tightens Internet access and closes the economic openings that encouraged self-employment in the mid-1990's, it is unlikely that Cubans will turn Castro out before he dies.

The rabidly anti-Castro Cuban exiles clustered in Miami argue that it is fear that holds Cubans back, but that's not true. A visitor in Cuba finds many ready to complain, but the palpable fear and visceral hatred rampant in El Salvador and Chile in the 1980's is absent in today's Cuba. Instead there is a kind of paralysis - born of a mix of loyalty, fear, and indoctrination - as they grudgingly wait for Castro to expire.