Martes, 16 de Octubre de 2018
Última actualización: 14:32 CEST
Opinion

Obstinate Cuba: Business As Usual

Ramiro Valdés, José Ramón Machado Ventura and Raúl Castro. (WTOP)

During the recently held Special Meeting of the National Assembly in Cuba, the commission charged with revising the Cuban Constitution was constituted. One of the statements by President Miguel Díaz-Canel, in his speech to present this group of officials and representatives of pro-government organizations, chaired by the octogenarian Raúl Castro, was that the revision of the 1976 Constitution will not imply any change in the political system, sustaining the "irrevocable" nature of socialism in Cuba, and that the Communist Party (PCC) will continue to exercise control over the rest of the State's bodies.

A disheartening statement, but hardly a surprising one, because we know how Díaz-Canel was chosen for this position, and because we know that the old leadership of Raúl, Machado and Ramiro Valdés is not willing to abandon power, key to any analysis that seeks to delve a bit deeper into the Cuban regime.

Thus, no substantial changes should be expected to the country's charter, but rather only cosmetic alterations to accommodate a political platform adopted at the last congress of the PCC. Despite its obvious deficiency, the Castro leadership and its followers continue to clutch to it, like survivors on a sinking ship, while they read and turn the pages of the Guidelines at each session of the Council of Ministers.

If the situation were not so distressing, I would laugh.

Only that clinging to power, for fear of losing it for themselves and their families, explains the obstinate attitude of Cuba's gerontocracy, which insists on the irrevocability of socialism, even though the entire socialist camp collapsed years ago, and Fidel Castro, in an interview with The Atlantic in November of 2016, recognized the inefficiency of the system. "The Cuban model does noteven work for us anymore", said the ageing dictator publicly in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, in a moment of lucidity, rather than his usual senility. This is something that Cuban society and its thousands of emigrants already know all too well, and one that the Venezuelan regime, its most disciplined disciple, confirms daily.

However, still astonishing is the lamentable, opaque role played by the now lackey Diaz-Canel, who, during his emergence as a leader in Santa Clara, in the midst of the changes surrounding the Fourth Congress of the PCC, intended to present to the Castros and the leadership of the PCC, with Machado Ventura heading it up, certain differences in the political style of that he and other young leaders at the time, such as Roberto Robaina, exhibited, and that had given people hope that some political practices could be changed.

Now the same Díaz-Canel knows that the country is bankrupt, and Cuban society is suffering the consequences, but he is unable to stray one iota from the script that Raúl Castro gave him. As the manager of a store that does not belong to him, he entertains himself by rearranging the cans from the top shelf to the bottom, and vice versa, while the establishment is leaking – literally, after Alberto.

Even more amazing is the population's total acquiescence to his rule. The Square fills on 1 May, and there is not a single protest against the regime. There is not one public expression of dissatisfaction in response to the apparent corruption behind the Cubana de Aviación contract with Global Air; nor to the more than 100 landslides after the passage of a cyclone that flooded the Island; or to the rumors that a fire in Old Havana consumed two complete buildings without any response by firemen, because there was no water. There is nobody who spontaneously heads out with a sign calling for an end to the regime, or even its transformation.

The opposition, organized into multiple movements or parties, all illegal, without any access to the media in Cuba, under the constant threat of effective infiltrations by State Security agents, subjected to brutal repression, and dismissed by government propaganda as mere pawns of the "imperialist enemy," resorts to peaceful demonstrations that, because they are routine, are no longer effective, such as the marches by the Ladies in White, or to extreme measures, such as hunger strikes. They place demands on the regime like no other social sector does, but they fail to call the world's attention to the violations of human rights on the island, its inhuman prison system and, above all, the regime's refusal to dialogue with anyone that opposes it. Much less are they able to muster a substantial number of organized followers.

At international forums there are calls for Maduro to step down, but nobody mentions Cuba. "If nobody protests, it is because the population is content," is the logic behind Canadian sanctions against Venezuela, and its excellent relationships with Cuba, despite the acoustic attacks on its diplomats. This is the logic that explains the actions of the OAS against the Venezuelan regime and it not being invited to the last Summit of the Americas, while a diplomatic contingent from Cuba attended, along with a group of kowtowing rabble-rousers representing the country's "civil society", lacking respect for the organization and violating the most basic norms of decent behavior, as Cuba is not even a member of the regional organization.

It is not enough to curse the regime again and again at home, in the kitchen, or chatting with close friends. It is not enough to just leave the country. As long as changing the nation's situation is not a top priority for Cubans, there will be no international solidarity with them. And, much more importantly, there will be no improvements in life on the Island. There will be another congress, and another, and another patch placed on the Constitution, another Díaz-Canel, and another, and they will just keep on saying "carry on... business as usual."