November 24, 2020

The ailments of the sixty-year-old Cuban Revolution

The ailments of the sixty-year-old Cuban Revolution



Refloating an economy that has been flooding for decades, reversing the disenchantment of those who no longer feel represented by the political system and guaranteeing human rights, a thorny issue that leads the criticisms of Cuba, are the challenges of a Revolution that turns 60 .

The island will celebrate this milestone on January 1, governed, for the first time in six decades, by a president who is not Castro: Miguel Díaz-Canel, 58, took office last April as the first glimpse of an inexorable relief generational that for critics is mere makeup, but for others has left promising gestures in his first months in power.

This month, for example, in an unprecedented decision, the government reversed or paralyzed measures on the private and cultural sectors that had provoked a strong public unrest.

At the same time, the Parliament approved this December the draft of the new Constitution, which will be submitted to a referendum in February, and which according to Diaz-Canel will guarantee "greater inclusion, justice and social equality."

The new president inherited two fundamental challenges: make sustainable the economy of the last communist country of America, burdened by an inefficient centralized system, and achieve popular support for a government with presence and only testimonial of the "historical generation" that fought in the Sierra Maestra .

Everything, in front of an increasingly aging population and whose young people see migration as the most viable way to seek prosperity, disenchanted with politics and low state salaries -30 dollars a month on average-, unrelated to the dialectical ignitions of the Cold War and more familiar with social networks than with revolutionary slogans.

"The most urgent challenge that the Government has today is to make its economic model sustainable The biggest challenge is political: to face the consequences for the one-party Leninist system of implementing a comprehensive transition to an integrated mixed economy," the Cuban-American analyst told Efe Arturo López-Levy, professor at the University of Minnesota.

The VI congress of the Communist Party of Cuba approved in 2011 a series of reforms, the so-called "guidelines", called to be the opening philosopher stone that achieved a "prosperous socialism", but seven years later the slowness of its implementation takes its toll to the island.

"Postponing these urgent changes, the historical generation has gained time until its physical disappearance, but the country has lost it," says López-Levy.

A situation, in his opinion, that "has been opening spaces to a dangerous combination of despair, corruption and increased inequality and poverty."

And in the midst of that scenario there has also been the collapse of Venezuela, the main economic and political ally of Cuba, which has seen subsidized oil shipments reduced by half and has been seeking alternative suppliers for two years. must pay at market prices.

Despite the slow pace of changes, the basis of this controlled economic opening that Raúl Castro promoted during his two terms (2008-2018) must be included in the new Constitution that will go to a referendum in February, and that for the first time admits the need for a foreign investment that still arrives slowly.

For the analyst, "without economic reform, the PCC is focused on finding new sources of legitimacy to replace the loss of the charisma of the historical generation and the lack of confidence of a considerable number of Cubans in the capacity of the official ideology to propose viable alternatives. of solution to their daily problems of housing, transportation, food and work ".

Sixty years after the agrarian reform that ended with latifundismo, the island imports between 60 and 70% of the food that it consumes, it has a deficit of almost one million homes and, with a limping mobile park that dates back to the years 50, has not been able to guarantee an efficient public transport system either.

These issues are the ones that most concern citizens today, which on the other hand are guaranteed free education and health, two great social flags of the Revolution but which have also deteriorated due to the economic crisis.

Cuba, in addition, will celebrate six decades of Revolution amid renewed tensions with the United States: four years after the celebrated "thaw", the Administration of Donald Trump has paralyzed the process and toughened the financial embargo, at the same time demanding greater democratic opening and advances in human rights.

Dissenting organizations number about 120 political prisoners currently in Cuban prisons without counting the temporary arrests of opponents, while the Government maintains that these are common criminals and accuses these groups of being financed by other countries with the intention of undermining the system.

The most immediate consequence of the cooling off with Washington has been the return to the trench rhetoric of a country that continues to defend its sovereignty with determination and the return, against all odds, of communist aspirations to the draft of the new Constitution.

Even so, López-Levy believes that this is "a minor issue" in the face of other developments included in the future Magna Carta, such as the recognition of private property or the limitation of presidential mandates, but at the same time, "it is a lost opportunity. for the PCC to move to a more plural, broad and flexible ideological definition. "

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