The Regime’s Unalterable Faith In Its Own Continuity / 14ymedio, Jose Azel
14ymedio, Jose Azel, Miami, 3 January 2017 — Raul Castro, in his
one-minute announcement on Cuban television reporting the death of his
brother, referred to Fidel Castro as “the founder of the Cuban
Revolution.” The label of “founder” shows the unalterable faith of the
regime in its continuity.
Fidel Castro, although a background presence, had been effectively out
of power for a decade. Raúl has orchestrated an uninterrupted succession
with himself as first secretary of the Communist Party, and people
selected by him in the new generation of communist leadership.
This is the bittersweet reality for we Cubans who love liberty, and whom
often believed in the slogan No Castro, no problem. Fidel Castro may be
gone, but the regime remains structurally intact. The death of Fidel
Castro does not bring freedom for the Cuban people. His legacy is that
of thousands executed by firing squads, brutal repression, concentration
camps, and every possible violation of human rights. He turn what was,
in 1958, one of the most prosperous countries in Latin America into an
impoverished dysfunctional state from which 20% of the population has
Fidel Castro may be gone, but the regime remains structurally intact
In addition, according to the report Freedom in the World by the
organization Freedom House, Cuba remains the only country in the
Americas considered “not free,” with ratings in the worst categories in
terms of political rights and civil liberties. Even so, the Castro
brothers are not dishonored as architects of this tragedy, but
distinguished by the obsequiousness of many world leaders.
Cuba today is a nation with a discredited ideology, a declining senile
leadership and a bankrupt economy. So what will be next for this tragic
island? Let’s begin by examining what I call a culture of acquiescence.
Meme is a neologism coined by British scientist Richard Dawkins to
explain how ideas and social behaviors are transmitted through
non-genetic means, in contrast to genetic transmission. For example, a
boy who is constantly exposed to domestic violence may come to accept
violence as natural. In political science, I explain memes as
sociocultural genes that help to understand how, in totalitarian
societies, the presumption of power dethrones the presumption of freedom.
Usually, the use of power is not enough to preserve an oppressive
regime. At some level there must be a tacit acceptance that the ruling
class has some legitimacy to exercise power. In China, Vietnam, North
Korea and Cuba, revolutionary mysticism linked to Mao Zedong, Ho Chi
Minh, Kim Il-Sung and Fidel Castro served to confer such
legitimacy. Over time, the presumption of freedom is replaced with the
acceptance of the legitimacy of tyrannical powers.
In China, Vietnam, North Korea, and Cuba coercive power has engendered
memes of acquiescence by accepting the widespread presumption that the
leaders were born with the right to govern and people are born with an
obligation to obey. This is also part of Fidel Castro’s legacy.
Thinking about post-Fidel Cuba it is essential to keep in mind that the
history of the island in the last sixty years is the history of the
Castro brothers and their ideas. The Raul Castro’s inner circle is not
made up of cowering Democrats not waiting for the right moment to put
into practice long-suppressed Jeffersonian ideals. His way of governing
is inseparable from his ideology.
If we assume that change in Cuba will not come as a result of some
intervention from the US or internationally (from the outside in), nor
as a result of any upstream events like the Arab Spring, we are left
only with change that comes down from above. That is, a change that
originates in a leadership alien to democratic culture and imbued with a
negative incentive towards democratic reforms.
Of course, the imponderable, the possibility of an improbable black
swan, is always present. The black swan could be an unknown Václav Havel
or a Boris Yeltsin in the Revolutionary Armed Forces who is able to
emerge and consolidate power as a true reformer. However, at the current
juncture, one does not see the possibility of moving towards liberal
democracy, or even towards change.
Editor ‘s Note: José Azel is a senior researcher at the Institute for
Cuban and Cuban American Studies at the University of Miami and author
of Mañana in Cuba.
Source: The Regime’s Unalterable Faith In Its Own Continuity / 14ymedio,
Jose Azel – Translating Cuba –