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December 2013
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The Continuity of Raul Castro

The Continuity of Raul Castro / Miriam Celaya
Posted on December 23, 2013

HAVANA, Cuba , December, – After more than seven years
since Castro I’s famous “Proclamation”, which marked his departure from
the management of the government, Castro II’s performance has failed to
find a path capable of leading to a happy port to end the cruise of a
shipwrecked revolution.

A look at the socio-economic and political Cuban landscape lets us
discern a confusing scenario in which no significant economic progress
is taking place that allows for overcoming the permanent crisis, while
the social sphere continues its decline, reducing the performance and
quality of services, particularly in the areas of health and education,
while, politically, the totalitarianism of the military elite continues.
New regulations are being established that will attempt a “more
flexible” system in order to wash the regime’s face and offer a gentler
image outward, at the same time as repressive methods are increasing and
extending inward, against dissident sectors and the general population.

The failure of the system has been sufficiently demonstrated after 55
years of dictatorship. However, the situation does not seem to point to
its finale — in the face of the erratic government policies, the absence
of independent institutions capable of influencing the most relevant
changes and the lack of freedom of the press and information, among
other factors — the reality provides an inaccurate picture in which the
urgent need for radical change and the uncertainty about the future
coexist simultaneously.

It is known that social transformations take place independent of the
will of governments. However, these can slow or accelerate said
processes. In Cuba, the tower of power has convincingly demonstrated its
willingness to defer, as much as possible, a transition that would end
up snatching its political power, so it is betting on a different type
of strategy that will allow for its continuity beyond the changes that
the system may undergo. A difficult challenge, but perhaps not so
unlikely if -given the weakness of domestic civil society to prevent it-
the international scenario feels complacent towards the regime or deems
it propitious.

Post Totalitarianism

Many analysts agree in pointing out the unequivocal symptoms of the
breakdown of the Cuban socioeconomic system as it existed under
Fidelismo. Others, more optimistic, even claim that we are in a stage of
post-totalitarianism. Right or not, the fact is that the Cuban reality
is not the same as it was five years ago, and there is the impression
that we are witnessing the end of a long period that will give way to a
new era. For better or worse, Cuba is changing, but the relationship
between the regime and society remain despotic and power at the top
remains intact. What’s more, the historical gerontocracy seems to have
found a way to perpetuate itself as a class by having mutated on itself,
while avoiding a social mutation. Thus, two simultaneous and parallel
systems are currently presiding in Cuba, wherein the rules of market
economies, which benefits only the elite, coexists with a “socialist”
distribution, which endangers the rest of Cubans. Such is the
“transition” conceived by the government.

Now then, in its linguistic meaning, transition is the change from one
mode or state to another one which is qualitatively different. In
politics, it is the equivalent to the process of transformation from one
system into another, and it has been widely used in the definition of a
transition towards democracy after dictatorial governments or systems,
independent of its duration and its varying repressive signs. Therefore,
in the case of Cuba, it would mean a transition towards democracy, whose
fruit would be the rule of law, with an inclusive constitution, not
governed by political parties of ideologies of any kind, with separate
powers and respect for social and individual rights, inasmuch as public
power would be subordinate to a set of laws.

Autocracy in Perpetuity

Assuming this definition, it is obvious that the changes implemented
based on the roadmap (“The Guidelines) born of the VI Congress of the
PCC, don’t point towards a transition, but seek to legitimize the
perpetuity of the autocracy. This is really an official strategy for sui
generis continuity, where changes regulated by the government do not
seek to preserve the system (so-called “socialist”) itself, but the
political power and privileges of an elite class.

The success of this strategy would depend on the behavior of several
factors, among which stand out, on the one hand, the growth and
strengthening of the opposition and of independent civil society groups
to the point of representing an alternative to power, and, on the other
hand, the policies of democratic nations in their relation with the
dictatorship or with the opposition. At present, the wear and tear of
the regime and its lack of credibility are undermining its profile, both
inside and outside Cuba, while the slow consolidation of the opposition
and its related sectors does not indicate that foreign or domestic
support will become more effective. This is equivalent to a relative
stagnation in the overall situation, reflecting a precarious internal
balance consisting in increases in social discontent, the growth of the
opposition and its activities, and an increase of repression in varying
degrees, from coercion to beatings, arrests and imprisonments.

In a general sense, and with Raul-style power nearing the end of its
fifth year, the advances promised by the government have not taken
place. Instead, Cubans feel that the grip of the general crisis of the
system has worsened, while the government continues to score new
failures in its main objectives: stopping and eradicating corruption,
creating a strong inflow of hard currency and pushing forward the
domestic economy, which not only makes an negotiated transition
impossible to attain, but it also seriously undermines the aspirations
for the continuity of the dictatorship.

Translated by Norma Whiting

From Cubanet, 17 December 2013

Source: “The Continuity of Raul Castro / Miriam Celaya | Translating
Cuba” –

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