Thursday, August 2, 2007

Thoughts About Tomorrow

Having read the 2006 Cuba Study Group report (and other articles) Cuba's future seems real grim. The CSG report states: "Cuba is running out of time... The stakes are high... Failed economic policies litter the landscape of transitioning economies, and many countries end up facing worse economic conditions than existed during the predecessor regimes."

Andy Gomez from the University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS) paints a similar, dark picture. "I dare to say, that Raul [Castro] has six months to a year," said Gomez in a recent interview. He continued, saying that Raul Castro should pursue "minimal economic reform" in Cuba. "If he doesn't, then I dare to say, that you can have a large migration out of Cuba." In the worst case scenario "as many as half a million Cubans trying to leave the island." Gomez later reveals in the interview that it was he that gave the US Coast Guard some of the ideas of a possible mass exodus to prepare for, such as 100,000 Cubans rushing into the US base at Guantanamo Bay. Because of such scenarios, it was reported that the US Department of Defense has set aside $18 million to prepare the US base in Cuba for such a mass migration.

Local blogger El Gusano from La Contra Revolucion Blog believes these actions of preparing for an exodus reveal something he calls Cubanophobia. He recently summed it up to me as a belief that "a bunch of politically active spics in South Florida who are mucking things up by participating in the political process" are now acceptable targets of racism, and thus are being prevented from entering the US in the face of an invasion. Never mind the fact that Andy Gomez is Cuban himself.

Aside from those who definitely see dark clouds looming above Cuba, there's also the view of being cautious (perhaps hopeful) that economic changes will come to Cuba. Phil Peters from the Lexington Institute, and the Cuban Triangle Blog, has maintained a view that anything could happen with Raul Castro. But, one important question lingers about "whether [Raul Castro] will open up the boundaries so new ideas are heard." Peters feels that perhaps Raul Castro would do more, since he has been vocal of many internal problems already, but "[h]is moves so far seem to be those of a man with limited room for maneuver."

Marifeli Perez-Stable seems to share this position as well and wonders: "Will [Fidel Castro's] veto on markets stand?" That is, will Raul break away from Fidel's historic recalcitrance? Perez-Stable pondered other important questions in a column published last month by the Miami Herald, and, like Peters, sees Raul Castro "trapped in the worst possible scenario: [Fidel] Castro is alive and somewhat recuperated." This means that Perez-Stable sees Raul as a reformer, but held back by some factors, like being "too cautious."

But, it seems to be a wait-and-see situation now. Perez-Stable was recently on a local Spanish program, Polos Opuestos, hosted by Maria Elvira Salazar. She appeared with another "Cuba expert," the famed Cuban intellectual Carlos Alberto Montaner. Perez-Stable made it clear that there's uncertainty ahead in Cuba, while Montaner provided a dire picture, even suggesting that Raul had the capacity to control future internal instability with brute military force. Perez-Stable countered that idea and suggested that the Raul Castro government would prevent such a scenario from taking place. She believes such chaos would signal the end of Raul Castro and the roots of the revolution altogether.

So, just like many decades before, we continue to wait. Stuck in between chaos and uncertainty. It seems that our vision goes no further.

[Photo by Mike Hollingshead]


leftside said...

Cuba held together during a very real period of crisis (the nineties). Compared to then, today is a panacea - strong, sustained economic growth and the potential for reforms on the horizon. Things have probably never looked so good in 25 years. Wages have been increased, the social safety net has not been changed one iota. They see the region and the world moving their way and have new friends to take the place of Moscow.

Let us remember that all the sources you've cited (with the possible exception of Peters) predicted chaos without Fidel in the picture. The Revolution's institutions are strong. Support for counter revolution is minimal. Legitimate complaints have many places to get heard and addressed - within the system. The only threat to the Revolution's authority is if the new rich (usually with their Miami or Madrid connections) become too many or too rich, as a result of the measured openings.

Mambi_Watch said...

Thanks for your views. I do accept that there is still some strength in the Cuban economy. Not too long ago, several reports were showing this, but now its all been forgotten.

I don't really know what shall happen in the future, but I feel more optimistic than most here in Miami. As you know, there's a strong bias here that paints Cuba blacker than what it really is.

I believe the US should've long ago normalized relations with Cuba and even embraced the economic system that exists there. In my opinion, it still can if it believes in eradicating poverty, or making agreements toward a more peaceful region. But, there must be a larger social movement towards that, especially a REAL human rights movement that applies universally to both nations.

But, this idea is not very popular at the moment. Sometimes it baffles me.