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Posted January 08, 2006 by I-taoist in Castro's Cuba

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First, Fidel Castro used a loaded word seldom heard in Cuban government speeches: ‘‘self-destruct.’’ Then Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque made a rare reference to a future without Castro: a “void nobody can fill.’‘

And now experts are asking: Is the Cuban government for the first time undergoing an unprecedented introspection—one that perhaps acknowledges a fragile socialist grip on the island?

In recent weeks, the Cuban government has made a series of rare public comments urging Cubans to embrace the revolution—or risk its future. Having just celebrated the revolution’s 47th anniversary, Cuban government officials are openly worrying that the generation of disaffected youth that grew up with scarcity and hard times since the early 1990s will be the very catalyst that destroys Castro’s legacy.

And they’re scrambling to stop it.

‘‘This country can self-destruct,’’ Castro warned during a five-hour speech Nov. 17. “This revolution can destroy itself, but they can never destroy us; we can destroy ourselves, and it would be our fault.’‘

Castro’s comments came as he announced a new push against corruption. He blasted thieves who live off stolen government goods, like gasoline, and said that since the crackdown, gas stations have begun to collect twice the normal revenue. His tirade against fraud came with the message that the looting of state coffers deepens class distinctions and jeopardizes the revolution.

In the following weeks, he announced economic changes, including salary hikes and electricity rate increases aimed at the ‘‘new rich’’ who damage socialism’s credibility.

Castro, experts say, seems to be acknowledging his own system’s failures.

Castro’s comments were followed by a Dec. 23 speech at a National Assembly session by Perez Roque, a former Castro aide who represents the younger generation of Cuban officials. Referring several times to Castro’s Nov. 17 speech, he said that 1.5 million Cuban adults were about 10 years old in 1990, when Cuba began to feel in earnest the impact of the collapse of the Soviet Union and its massive subsidies.

Those children are now grown-ups who take cheap housing and free medical care and education for granted, Perez Roque said, and never witnessed Cuba’s prerevolution poverty.

‘‘The fact that we have resisted all these years as we have resisted and battled, doesn’t in itself guarantee we will be victorious in the future,’’ Perez Roque said, according to a transcript on the Foreign Ministry website. “I think we should pay all our attention to the call made by Fidel, that phrase never said publicly in the history of the revolution: This revolution can be reversible, and not by our enemies who have tried everything possible, but by our own mistakes.’‘

Experts agree that Perez Roque’s comments are important.

‘‘I am surprised this kind of stuff is spoken of this openly,’’ said Mark Falcoff, author of Cuba, The Day After. “It suggests two things: Castro’s health may be as bad as the CIA says it is, and the [communist] party leadership recognizes they are going to have a rough time when he’s not there.’‘

Two days before Castro’s November speech, The Miami Herald reported that the CIA was convinced that the Cuban leader has Parkinson’s disease and that the agency had briefed lawmakers on its findings.

Falcoff said the recent comments are particularly important because they contradict the standard rhetoric in Cuban government circles that the revolution has been ‘‘institutionalized.’’ The government, he said, is admitting it failed to capture its young.

‘‘Nothing that happens in Cuba is an accident, above all anything these people say and say publicly,’’ said Mara Dolores Espino, an expert on Cuba at St. Thomas University. “They are positioning themselves for the aftermath. Castro wants the survival of the revolution to be his legacy, and they are preparing for that.’’

  1. Follow up post #1 added on January 09, 2006 by Chuck Bailey

    Following last months news item in Granma - About the NEW RICH stealing gas and supplies from the Cuban government.
    I brought it to Fidels attention that - “Government employees (Party members) were the real culprits.” Gas sales doubled and Fidel ( for the first time) acknowledged that Cuba could collapse from internal corruption. I’m sorry, if I had informed him 40 years ago,of this reality, we wouldn’t be in this mess now. grin)
    Chuck “Mans inherent need to screw over his fellow man.”

  2. Follow up post #2 added on January 09, 2006 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    My God man. What are you talking about?

    You are driving people crazy on this site because you are difficult to understand.

    Cuba consulting services

  3. Follow up post #3 added on January 09, 2006 by Chuck Bailey

    I thought or was under the impression that Fidel actually was logging into your website and getting alternate views of Cuba’ problems. No sense of humor here. :-((  Chuck

  4. Follow up post #4 added on January 10, 2006 by ROLO

    I can say that corruption in the top ranking,middle ranking
    and below,just,in all layer of the cuban society is a very
    longstanding phenomenon and that is not the first time,the
    government try reducing it,let remember Plan Maceta,Plan Sacude
    la Mata,Plan contra la malversacion y tendencias negativas,all
    of them has been a fiasco and corruption is rampant and that is
    so bad in a faltering economy as the cuban economy is.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on January 11, 2006 by ElaineMiami

    I think it’ easy to understand Fidel’ words when he says “this country can self-destruct.”  Yes, the thievery is harmful to the economy, but there is a greater harm to the revolution and that stems from the hearts and minds of the Cuban people.  If they lose sight of the vision that brought about the revolution, this internal insight and drive and the complete and utter belief that they can achieve their ideals, then everything will crumble from within.  Abraham Lincoln once said that “A house divided within itself cannot stand”, and the same principle applies here.  If the Cuban people unite in spirit and embrace the principles and ideals of the revolution, while also appreciating the strides they’ve made in education and healthcare, then all outer obstacles such as sanctions and negative propaganda would have no power over them.  It’ not a failing economy that can destroy them, it’ the failure to believe that all their hopes and dreams are attainable. 

  6. Follow up post #6 added on January 11, 2006 by ROLO

    Of course,Ideas and Principles are most important than Money and
    others,but so as to keep on keeping on attainable dreams,the
    leadership has to keep the pace,I mean,has to give the example
    of transparency,oneness,give room for the opponents,eschewing
    perils for the real dreams and the genuine sense of what someday the cuban revolution was for the cubans and for many
    have’ not people all around the World,it is not to be stuck
    on Power,it is no to rule against the opinion of the majority,
    Natuurlijk there were achievements in the past,but each time
    has its winds, and now it seems to me,that the cuban government
    Has To evolve,changing tactics with the same strategy,everything to spare the big dreams of the People should
    be done Now and Later,in Short I strongly believed that the
    survival of the genuine revolution is in shifting gears for the
    betterment of the revolution,that is not surrender the good
    purpose,the magic ideals,that is not give up doing for the best,that is just do what is needed,But is Now,not tomorrow.

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