Obama’s Illusions About Post-Castro Cuba
A faux democratization will conceal the military’s grip on power through
a dominant political party.
By JOSÉ AZEL
April 21, 2016 7:00 p.m. ET
Fidel Castro, visibly weak and infirm at the close of the Cuban
Communist Party Congress on Tuesday, spoke of his own mortality: “Soon I
will turn 90 years old,” he said. “Never would such a thing have
occurred to me and it’s not the outcome of any effort; it was fate’s
whim. Soon I will be like everyone else. To all of us comes our turn.”
For the millions of Cubans who suffered for nearly five decades under
Fidel’s brutal dictatorship, and those forced to flee their home and
their families, his “turn” is long overdue. And sadly, when Fidel dies,
his brother Raúl, anointed president in 2008 and “elected” again this
week at the Communist Party Congress, will carry on as dictator while
promoting the illusion of political change.
Opinion Journal Video
Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Mike Gonzalez on the danger of doing
business with the Castros. Photo credit: Carnival.
Under what I call a hegemonic party system, the emerging regime in Cuba
will not rely on its revolutionary past or one man’s charisma, but on
the institutionalization of a dominant political party, controlled by
the military, designed to hold power in perpetuity. It will differ from
Cuba’s current Leninist model in that some “opposition” parties will be
tolerated. This opposition has no possibility of gaining power but
suggests the false image of a totalitarian state in transition to democracy.
This image will serve the regime well in projecting political stability
and giving potential investors greater confidence in the long-term
survival of the regime. It provides investors with the convenient
rationalization that their activities are helping advance a
democratization process. It also channels the opposition’s energy into
participating in a rigged political process. Instead of factions
operating against the whole, they become uncompetitive proto parties
that are made part of the whole, much as we saw in Mexico under seven
decades of PRI rule.
The Cuban political transfiguration began in 2013 when Miguel Diaz-Canel
was appointed first vice president of Cuba’s Council of State with the
goal of grooming him as Raúl Castro’s successor. Mr. Diaz-Canel, a
56-year-old engineer with a military background, is portrayed as the
young civilian face of the government. The mirage was reinforced by
Raúl’s announcement that he will not seek the presidency of the National
Assembly when his term expires in 2018.
In an address last year to the United Nations, President Obama placed
his expectations for change in Cuba on diplomacy and commerce: “We
continue to have differences with the Cuban government. We will continue
to stand up for human rights. But we address these issues through
diplomatic relations, and increased commerce, and people-to-people ties.”
The administration has failed to grasp that, with its help, the Cuban
regime’s political trajectory will not follow a democratic path. It will
crawl into a hegemonic party system that, as if following the length of
a Möbius strip, always returns to its repressive origins.
Mr. Azel is a senior scholar at the Institute for Cuban and
Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami, and the author of “Mañana
in Cuba” (AuthorHouse, 2010).
Source: Obama’s Illusions About Post-Castro Cuba – WSJ –