|Castro won't live forever but I'm sure Cuba has its own "Baathists" who will not want to give up their positions to anyone else. The Cuban population doesn't impress me as particularly willing to stand up for itself. So what are the likely possibilities for its future?
1. The US could go in and clean Cuba up sometime after Castro goes, with the participation of other countries of course but knowing that the US will be held responsible for the outcome. Maybe this is the scenario everyone assumes will play out. Until then, Castro's successors just try to hang in there hoping the population continues to submit and no unforeseen events upset their security.
2. My favorite possibility is for Cuba to become, with full US blessing, a museum of Marxism-Leninism/left-winger tourism and convention destination/Communist style "Fantasy Island". It already is a sun-and-sand destination for the well healed socialist. Cuba could become a "West World" type theme park for leftists where they can act out their revolutionary fantasies and partake of Marxism nostalgia. Cuba needs foreign exchange and jobs and the world's leftists need somewhere they can go and pretend there is no Bush engendered spread of democracy in the world.
3. If it isolates itself Cuba could become another Haiti.
4. Cuba needs money. It could apply for membership to the EU. The thing that most divides Cuba and Old Europe is geography. The Republic of France (EU) already has overseas departments, full citizenship, in the Caribbean region (Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana) which means EU territory is there now. The Europeans could always use forward military bases when they are ready.
5. Cuba needs money. The Chinese were in Cuba in the past when Castro was mad at the Russians. While I'm sure the Chinese want to avoid antagonizing the US, there has been widespread talk around the world about the danger of US "unilateralism" and so it might enjoy the support of the EU, etc. If China or Russia or the EU had a military presence in Cuba this could be at least a propaganda asset for them. Russia seems to be keeping its antagonism for the US low key and the EU is still militarily pacific so China is the most likely candidate. China probably can afford to subsidize Cuban Communism too.
6. Cuba could apply for US statehood but I don't think it would meet necessary minimum requirements, particularly concerning free markets, but if it did meet them there would be no reason for it to apply for US statehood.
I don't know what our national leaders know but I would not neglect looking ahead to Cuba's future.