Posted on Friday, 08.09.13
Castro keeps the lid on Cuban ‘capitalism’
BY JAIME SUCHLICKI
The limited economic changes introduced by Gen. Raúl Castro in Cuba are
encouraging some observers to proclaim the end of communism and the
dismantling of the totalitarian system in the island.
Notwithstanding Raúl Castro’s own statements that he was not elected to
restore capitalism, these observers insist on their belief that economic
reforms will be deepened and Cuba will march merrily into capitalism or
at least a Chinese-style capitalism.
If the objectives of the Castro government were truly to move toward a
market economy, it would not limit economic enterprises to some 181
individual activities — i.e., barbershops, shoe shinning, pizza parlors;
to lease vacant lands to individual farmers to produce mostly
subsistence agriculture; or to liberalize the real estate and auto
market. In addition, the onerous taxes, regulations, and license fees
imposed on these activities are not conducive toward the development of
With Fidel alive, or even when he is dead, it would be difficult for
Gen. Castro to reject his brother’s legacy of political and economic
centralization. Raúl’s legitimacy is based on being Fidel’s heir. Any
major move to reject Fidel’s “teachings” would create uncertainty among
Cuba’s ruling elites — party and military. It could also increase
instability as some would advocate rapid change, while others cling to
more orthodox policies. Cubans could see this as an opportunity for
mobilization, demanding faster reforms.
For Raúl, the uncertainties of uncorking the genie’s bottle in Cuba are
greater than keeping the lid on and moving cautiously. For the past 53
years, political considerations have always dictated the economic
decisions of the communist leadership in the island.
Raúl is no Deng Xiaoping, Mikhail Gorbachev or a pragmatist in military
He was the longest serving minister of defense (47 years). He presided
over the worst periods of political repression and economic
centralization in Cuba and is responsible for numerous executions after
he and his brother assumed power, and some while in Mexico and the
Sierra Maestra before reaching power.
Raúl has been a loyal follower and cheerleader of Fidel’s anti-American
and pro-Soviet policies and military interventions in Africa and elsewhere.
In 1962, Raúl and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev conspired to
surreptitiously introduce nuclear missiles into Cuba. Raúl supervised
the Americas Department in Cuba, approving support for terrorist,
guerrilla and revolutionary groups throughout Latin America, and the
In 1996 he personally ordered the shooting down of two Brothers to the
Rescue unarmed civilian planes in international waters, killing three
U.S. citizens and one Cuban-American resident from Florida.
At 82 years of age, General Castro wants to muddle through these
difficult times introducing limited changes. His aim is to calm down a
growing unhappy population and to prevent a social explosion, not to
transform Cuba into a capitalist society. By his actions and statements,
Castro is signaling that Cuba will remain a failed totalitarian
experiment for the foreseeable future.
Jaime Suchlicki is Emilio Bacardi Moreau distinguished professor and
director of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies,
University of Miami.
Source: “Castro keeps the lid on Cuban ‘capitalism’ – Other Views –