Posted on Friday, 02.17.12
Raúl Castro's train of 'change' to nowhere
BY PEDRO ROIG
Delusion is riding high in the utopian train of change in Cuba. The
problem is that the railroad station is empty with a sign that states:
"The Communist Party is the soul of the Nation." Tenaciously holding to
power, Raúl Castro stated at the recently held party conference in
Havana, that the socialist system is untouchable and the supreme guiding
force of the Marxist State.
Standing on the ruins of a failed revolution, he did not mention
significant changes, downplaying any expectation that some mild economic
reforms could entail an opening of individual rights. It is obvious that
Raúl Castro is not interested in a Cuban political spring of freedom. He
is perfectly reconciled to the darkest night of a dogmatic fossil.
The Old Guard is in full control, completely oblivious to the universal
discredit of the Marxist ideology. A corrupted inner power ring, the
Cuban Communist Party is presided by the 80-year-old Raúl Castro, his 81
year-old deputy, José Machado Ventura, the 79-year-old Ramiro Valdés, a
most feared executioner and the 85-year-old sick and delirious Fidel,
who in his few moments of lucidity interferes in his brother's
decision-making process. A difficult task for Raúl who worships the
"Maximum Leader" as a father figure.
It is evident that the Cuban gerontocracy is concerned with the growing
unrest and discontent that is sweeping the island. They have been forced
to make inconsistent economic concessions. They are performing a
cosmetic show for the gallery while launching a savage and systematic
campaign of repression against the courageous resistance leadership,
where Cubans of African descent and women are singled out for brutal
punishment. Evidence of this cruelty is vividly documented on several
The Old Guard is holding their grip on power. They have gotten used to
being the privileged class. They like the good life, comfortably settled
with their families and comrades in the sheltered bunkers of their
enduring Jurassic park. They seem to be unconcerned to the fact that
Cuba remains without a back bench of young communist leaders. The former
vice president, Carlos Lage, and the ex-secretary of state, Felipe Pérez
Roque, both young heirs apparent, were thrown out from Raúl's train,
without hesitation, accused of being disloyal to the revolution.
Is this the train of change to be taken by Cuban exiles for an illusory
trip to nowhere?
The island nation is a moral and economic catastrophe, where over 75
percent of the people's food has to be brought from foreign suppliers
and the people's hopes for a better life is to escape in a raft or get
married to a foreigner. The situation is worse now than it ever was. The
malformed communist state is rotten to the core by corruption,
inefficiency and greed. The youth behave with the sadness of
hopelessness. The system is rapidly degenerating. It is a moral sickness
that's destroying the remaining healthy tissues. A convulse, almost
grotesque spectacle of a dream that ended as a crime.
Raúl Castro is fully committed to survive clinging to power. But he is
not good at the stage. Ill-trained by Fidel, the supreme showman, Raúl
is putting up a poor performance. He has precluded the possibility of a
national discussion on individual rights. The fundamental freedom to
publicly dissent and criticize the government without fear of reprisal
is not traveling in the utopian train. His octogenarian legion stand
ready to fight against any threat to their total control of power, but
they cannot fight off the inexorable revenge of time and growing rebellion.
Where did the idea that Raúl Castro is looking to negotiate a formula to
change the system originate? In over 50 years, there is not a single
piece of evidence to validate this premise. Raúl's train of change is a
fake assumption. A restless delusion feeding an ill-advised script, a
make-believe train that runs in a fertile imagination.
But the tragic show must go on. It is obvious that we Cubans have
difficulties for profound meditation and logical analysis. As a
collective entity, we tend to turn politics into a farce of inordinate
protagonism and elaborated fantasies. The facts are there to be seen.
The revolution is an unburied corpse. The catastrophe provoked by Fidel
and Raúl Castro leaves the Cuban nation a legacy of an immense moral
emptiness, infinitely worse than its economic ruin.
Pedro Roig, former director of Radio and TV Martí and teaches at the
Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami