Recent reforms in Cuba rattle Fidel
Fidel Castro showed his displeasure over brother Raúl’s recent economic
and societal concessions.
Posted on Thu, Apr. 17, 2008
BY RENATO PEREZ
Not even two months into his brother Raúl Castro’s reign in Cuba, Fidel
Castro has openly expressed displeasure with supporters of economic and
His latest missive appears to be a direct attack on a column published
in one of Cuba’s state-run media, which suggested that the latest series
of reforms launched by Raúl Castro are a step toward progress.
Although Castro has written slight barbs at his brother’s policies
before, it was the first apparent reference to a string of reforms
recently enacted that reversed years of Castro regulations.
In a column published Wednesday in Granma, the Communist Party daily,
the former Cuban leader, who formally gave up power on Feb. 24, chided
those who seek changes to avoid a repetition of the ”special period”
of retrenchment in Cuba that followed the demise of the socialist bloc.
In the article, titled ”Do not make concessions to enemy ideology,”
Castro wrote that “People must be very careful with everything they
say, so as not to play the game of enemy ideology. They cannot blame the
Special Period for the system that imperialism has imposed upon the
world. . . . The Special Period was the inevitable consequence of the
disappearance of the USSR, which lost the ideological battle and led us
to a stage of heroic resistance from which we still have not wholly
Cuba’s ”special period” was the term given to the period of widespread
shortages that came after the fall of the Soviet Union. Reforms like
allowing the U.S. dollar and some private business also followed to help
address the economic crisis.
Since Raúl Castro took over, he has launched a series of minor but
symbolically important measures such as allowing Cubans to stay in
hotels, buy cellphones and computers. Last week, the government
announced it would allow longtime tenants of government housing to
obtain property titles and pass them on to heirs.
When he was sworn in, Raúl vowed to run any major decision by his
brother. It’s not clear if Fidel had signed off on the recent changes,
but, in what may have been a veiled advice to reformers, he wrote:
“Meditate hard on what you say, what you affirm, so you don’t make
Castro said he wrote the article ”after listening to a public comment
disseminated by one of the Revolution’s mass media, which I shall not
mention specifically.” He appears to be taking a direct jab at an
article published Friday in the Havana daily Juventud Rebelde, Rebel
Youth, written by senior columnist Luis Sexto.
Titled ”Going in reverse is not going forward,” it refers to the
concessions — the adjustments — Cuba had to make after it lost the
economic backing of the Soviet Union. Concessions are not necessarily
bad, Sexto implied. The word should be redefined.
”For example, if the experience accumulated in our deteriorating
circumstances indicates that big agricultural companies are not
recommended and that [. . .] family or individual labor be cooperatized
or encouraged, why should we insist on that which does not prosper or
that which needs an excess of resources for completion?” Sexto wrote.
‘Is a `concession’ a step backward?” he wrote. “. . . Of course, the
man who is accustomed to issue dictates from his office or from his Jeep
— what to sow, how to harvest — may be distressed to see producers
gaining autonomy, gaining the ability to make their own decisions.”
A ”step backward,” he said, often ”promotes movement” and can be
”I do think that there could be a little difference between Raúl and
Fidel in terms of how much needs to be done and how quickly it needs to
be done,” said Andy Gomez, a senior fellow at the University of Miami’s
Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies. ‘I would not say, `if
Fidel doesn’t like it, too bad,’ but it may be too late.”
Miami Herald correspondent Frances Robles contributed to this report.