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Posted April 15, 2008 by publisher in Castro's Cuba

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Will Washington’s Blindness Continue to Prevent it from Registering the Fundamental Changes Now Taking Place in Havana?

Changes being introduced by Raúl Castro are fundamental and probably irreversible. One of the most anticipated leadership transitions of this epoch—that of Fidel Castro in Cuba—has been underway for the better part of a year in the absence of political instability or the upheaval predicted, or hoped for, by American policymakers and exiles in Miami. While George Bush and Condelezza Rice continue to deny this reality, and the administration produces fanciful studies by self-serving ideologues rather than bona fide specialists, which one expert has aptly described as “American occupation plans” for the island, the Cuban people have indicated their strong support for the inevitable end of the “era of Fidel” and the beginnings of a decisive new phase in the Cuban revolution’s history.

As the Cuban Parliament convened on February 24 to chose a new Council of State—the nation’s supreme governing body responsible for selecting the President—the most influential Latin American political leader of the twentieth century, recovering from a life-threatening illness, has retired gracefully to a position of éminence grise and keeper of the flame. Castro’s brother Raúl already has made it clear that he does not want to be “President for Life” and is committed to transferring power to a younger generation.

In any event, day-to-day operations of the island already are in the hands of Cubans other than Fidel, as is long-term planning evidenced by Raul Castro’s unacknowledged offense to “dialogue” with Washington following the Democrats’ victory in the 2006 mid-term congressional elections.

No matter how dramatic a change the transition from Fidel’s leadership to that of his brother’s will represent for Cuba, Latin America and the world, the significance of this new leadership will depend less on how the Cubans behave than on decisions and conditions originating in the White House and the Department of State.

Since the end of the Cold War, Fidel Castro and the Cuban leadership have maintained their historic socialist commitments, but with a pragmatic adaptation to new global realities forced upon them by the collapse of the island’s economic lifeline—the Soviet Union. In other words, while still invoking the language and props of Marxism-Leninism, Castro was turning Cuba to a reintegration into the world capitalism system—albeit within a socialist framework—and without sacrificing the revolution’s heralded social welfare achievements.

Even during the 1980s, Castro’s disagreement with Soviet reformer Mikhail Gorbachev was not over the need for perestroika (economic restructuring) and glasnost (political openness) but over the wisdom of pursuing both at the same time. Economic reform, Fidel argued, would unleash widespread initial hardship on islands and if the populace could simultaneously vent their anger at the ballot box, that would only invite the electorate to bite the hand that was trying to feed them. As subsequent events proved, Castro’s realism trumped Gorbachev’s innovativeness.

Since then, however, Cuba under Castro selectively…


  1. Follow up post #1 added on April 15, 2008 by J. Perez

    Very insightful analysis of where Cuba is and where it is headed for.

    What a difference to the ignorant and hopeless policy followed by Bush & Co.

  2. Follow up post #2 added on April 19, 2008 by Mario

    While this is a very informative article, and I thank the publisher for posting it, the article avoids the reasoning behind the United States federal government’s position on Cuba. In today’s world most people are aware of a myriad of political positions of ex pat Cubanos. In contrast, from the onset of the Castro regime, only a single voice was heard in America, those of the vocal anti-Castro view. It has been this Cuban voice in America which has historically been represented and heard both in Washington and Miami. As generations have aged and time has passed, opposing voices differing from those initial few in strident opposition to Castro, have emerged. However it is the failure of these new rational voices to impart their message to the American people, not the government, which has allowed the embargo to continue. Only when the rational Cubano voices are heard in this country’s heartland, will change begin in Washington’s stance on Cuba. These forums are beneficial for those of us who love Cuba, but the change which we must begin, is to share this information with a broader spectrum of American citizens.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on April 23, 2008 by Roberto Coven with 12 total posts

    I continue to believe that the quickest step forward for Cuba is dependent on a bold and courageous US president being elected who can see way past the propoganda.  This would have to be a Democrat since Republicans are indebted to Cuban Americans for life for bringing Bush to offfice.  Hillary Clinton is old school and really more hawkish than people think.  I think if BaraK Obama is elected this will be the best chance in 2 generations for progress for the Cuban people and US-Cuban relations.  Cubans by nature will really like him and I sense he would be received very well on the island.  If he is not elected it will be a long wait.

  4. Follow up post #4 added on April 23, 2008 by Roberto Coven with 12 total posts

    I would like to add an additional point of view to my previous comment.  What Americans need to do is put pressure on the US government to change Cuban policy is to find out what life is really like for Cubans on the island.  I would guess that 99% of Americans or more have never been to Cuba and even more have no idea of how Cubans live.  They only get the big, bad and dirty impression of Cuba that words like ‘Dictator’, ‘Communism’ ,’ Tyrannical’ and the like bring.  If Americans cant tell you where Nebraska is on a map they probably cant identify Cuba nor realize she is in the neighborhood.  Basically american ignorance about Cuba and the life of Cubanos might shift if the real story got out.  How? 

    What if a group of americans, a large group, ‘illegally’ traveled to Cuba and promoted their trip as a humane mission with the intention of bringing supplies, clothes, books, medicine to Cuba and purposely drawing themselves into a legal issue with the US govt.  The govt. would probably take the bait and bring action against the humanitarians. One high profile court case or a series of high profile court cases in the American legal system so to challenge government policy and get it the story to mainstream media might open ‘Pandora’s Box’ and bring the news of Cuba to a large segment of the American population.  I would love to participate in such a type of civil disobedience and bet it would have a big effect if enough people joined the movement.  We have hurt Cuba for long enough how about if we stood up and helped her!

  5. Follow up post #5 added on October 20, 2008 by jorge gonzalez

    I am very sorry to hear that Cuba’s people remain subjected to the loss of
    political freedom as it is known in the western world.  How Cuba’s economy
    despite all the lores of the Castro brothers have kept the nation’s citizens
    blinded by malnutrition and low per capita income (third from the bottom) in
    Latin America.  I cannot see any new creative ideas from Fidel or Raul other
    than acess to consumer goods that citizens of many nations already have.
    How much longer will the Cuban people continue to suffer under two half
    brothers and their personality disorders? How much longer will they hold
    on to power while practicing the guise that they will soon relinquish their
    reign under the so called “revolution’s” triumph of future generations?
    What a travesty for those that believe and wait for true democracy!

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