Castro II’s Island is Adrift / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya
Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 5 January 2017 – It is well known that
for almost six decades we Cubans have not had a real government program,
unless the old “five-year plans” are defined as such. These were
programs Castro I copied from the USSR in order to plan and control
Cuba’s socialist economic development, and applied without the least
success in Cuba.
It is worth remembering that, even in the USSR, these plans were not
successful. In fact, almost one hundred years after the first Marxist
social experiment, it has been sufficiently established that communism
and success are irreconcilable, antagonistic categories.
In the end, Castro I departed this world leaving behind a crowded
inventory of useless speeches and a history of failures as a ruler. In
his decades at the helm of a country which he assumed as his personal
property which, as such, he ruined with impunity, the would-be demiurge
only managed to play victoriously one intangible card: his personal
symbolic commitment as a “world-class revolutionary leader,” which
allowed him to gather solidarity and subsidies which, undeniably,
contributed to the support of his long dictatorship and helped to mask
the national economic disaster provoked by his regime.
The year 2016 ended with two facts relevant to Cubans: the definitive
death of the founding patriarch of this whole ill-fated circus and
December’s anticipated announcement by the National Assembly that worse
times will soon be upon us, not as a consequence of the failure and
unfeasibility of the Cuban socio-economic “model” and the long
demonstrated incapacity of the political guide of the country, but due
to the “unfavorable” international scene, in the words of Castro II, the
substitute head of the rink.
In his words, this scenario is derived from the capitalism crisis, and
mainly from the “negative effects generated by the economic, commercial
and financial blockade (…) which remains in force,” which means that
“Cuba is still unable to carry out international transactions in US
dollars” and this “prevents important business from materializing.”
In fairness, it is necessary to recognize that the panorama is really
unfavorable for the Castro regime. The regional left has fallen into
disfavor, several allied presidencies have collapsed, presidencies whose
corruptions favored the entrance of foreign currency to the Palace of
Revolution for a time, and, to put the icing on the cake of the
misfortune of the olive green power, Venezuela is threatening to turn
into a chaos that will drag in its wake that other second-rate dictator,
Nicolas Maduro, which would slam the last source of subsidies for the
Fifty-eight years later, the collapse cannot be hidden anymore, and Cuba
seems to have entered a stampede phase. While the economy slows and the
recession knocks on the door, the only Cuban production that continues
to grow unabated is emigration, thus aggravating the outlook for the
future of the nation.
Such a gloomy scenario, however, fails to move the government and the
country’s economic policy and decision makers towards the search for
real and effective solutions.
The Government, Ministers and Parliament gathered at the meeting of the
first Assembly after the death of the Autocrat in Chief simply repeated
the eternal formula (also eternally unfulfilled): more work, more
controls and more savings, instead of proposing a viable program based
on elementary and possible issues, such as liberating the economy,
allowing greater participation of the private sector, removing
investment barriers, reunifying the currency or stimulating the
development of small and medium-sized enterprises.
There was talk of greater constraints when it was necessary to speak of
more freedoms; of a slower pace when there should be more haste.
If we have had a bad leader and bad economic strategies to date, now we
have neither leader nor strategies. This, however, is not necessarily
worse. In the absence of a way out, sooner or later the second heir will
have no choice but to move one of his tokens, against his better
judgment. And history has shown that every move made within a closed and
immovable regime will produce changes.
Meanwhile, 2017 has begun for Cubans with a general feeling not unlike
disorientation, an aimless unguided journey, and skepticism. The same
disorientation seems to seize the General-President, now orphaned by the
mighty tree that gave him shade and protection throughout his life.
At least that was the image he projected during his brief address at the
inaugural session of the National Assembly. Haggard and tired, the old
deputy cast a speech full of cryptic phrases, complaints, reprimands,
and even warnings at undisclosed recipients.
There were no promises, no itineraries, and no symbolic cut-throat shots
fired. If anyone expected to hear a captain in command of the ship in
the midst of the storm, he only found a hesitant and inexperienced helmsman.
But in a country where secrecy prevails, every gesture or word can be a
signal to search for hidden meanings. That is why it was remarkable that
instead of the triumphal “Motherland or Death” of the Fidel era, or
“Always towards Victory” of the Guevara bravado, the General-President
opted for a much more realist and meager closing: “That’s all,” he
muttered almost in a sob.
And then he descended from the podium amidst the applause of his docile
amanuenses, not the political leader of the rampant Revolution from
which we could expect salvation in moments of crisis, but this tired and
contrite old man. It is obvious that the government of the hacienda in
ruins doesn’t fit. It is way too big for him.
Translated by Norma Whiting
Source: Castro II’s Island is Adrift / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya –
Translating Cuba –