Four generations, no changes
According to the Cuban regime’s Granma newspaper Cuba closed out 2015 with a population of 11,239,004 citizens, of which 19.4% were born in or before 1955, or 2,180,366 Cubans, many of whom were children or adolescents in January, 1959. If to these we add those born between 1956 and 1959, we realize that there remain just a few hundred thousand infirm, frustrated and sulky Cuban retirees who in January 1959 supported Fidel's revolution.
If we subtract, of course, the children (now with grey hair) who witnessed the triumphal entry of the rebel army in Havana, whether amidst excitement or fear, the number of Cubans who supported the Revolution in 1959, and later socialism, in 1961, does not even reach 20%. And concluding that all these seniors continue to support the "Revolution" defies common sense.
So what explains Castroism's ability to endure, generation after generation? It duped some and bought off others, but to an extent, it was the undeniable charisma of Fidel Castro. His spirited diatribes, full of bluster, promises and apocalyptic musings, helped to imbue him with the aura of a legendary hero who, despite his many failures and unfulfilled prophecies, remained part of Cubans' life, like a chronic condition that only now, as his ailing image personifies the deterioration of the Revolution itself, seems to be winding to an end.
And it wasn't attacks, or allied regimes fallen from grace, or invasions. The strongman sullied his image all by himself, by retiring too late, by living too long, and by repeatedly failing to deliver as promised. His posturing has ceased to impress, such that everyone has begun to see him for what he is: a tired, sick old man responsible for the suffering of his people, with an ego that impedes him from recognizing it. Now he indulges himself by receiving curious visitors and repeating the same anti-capitalist rhetoric that nobody wants to hear.
The Revolution, which has grown old along with its leader, has lost its capacity to renew itself, as apathy and dissimulation replace the revolutionary fervor able to turn setbacks into victories, or at least to believe. Those born after the Revolution, 80% of the island's population, do not identify with the bearded heroes of the Sierra Maestra, and the Bay of Pigs and Missile Crisis are distant allusions to them. The intervention by Cuban troops in Angola's war, and the export of guerrilla fighters to Latin America, make no sense to a young population that has trouble singing the national anthem, prefers soccer to baseball, and has no interest in being like Che.
An ageing population, but at the same time a new one, deserves an opportunity to choose the kind of country it prefers, and not to slavishly accept what was imposed almost 60 years ago, when most of them had not even been born. Neither should they be obliged to follow a political party that has failed to serve its purpose, yet stands as a self-appointed supreme and eternal authority determining Cubans’ destinies.
The Cubans of 2016 don't even remember the nuclear Soviet Union, with its profligate and Utopian leaders. Rather, they live in a world in which Russia, China and Vietnam are capitalist countries. The once- impoverished Latin America sends us aid, and buys our medical services; the Holy Father of the Roman Catholic Church is an Argentine; the president of the most powerful nation on earth is black and, moreover, declares himself a friend of Cuba, reaching out to shake the hand of the dictator who turned defeating the US into his raison d’etre, even resorting to atomic threats.
In short, the Cuban government and its political and economic system are totally out of touch with current realities and the 21st-century Cuban people. Once again, Cuba is lagging behind; it was the last country in the Americas to shake off Spanish colonialism, and now it struggles, along with North Korea, to be very the last bastion of Communism.
A constitution upholding the UN Covenant on Civil, Political and Economic Rights and the enactment of additional, complementary laws would be the first thing Cuba's rulers ought to do to open the country up to the world and the vast majority of Cubans, who do not believe in the virtues of Communism, whose benefits nobody ever enjoyed.