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]