Keeping the Cuban monarchy “sustainable”?

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Journalist Tom Fawthrop reports that change is coming to Cuba. The Cuban people are “growing increasingly impatient with hard times, suffocating bureaucracy and the badly run state economy”. This is hardly surprising news, considering how many Cubans try to escape the country to get to the US. Therefore, President Raul Castro (elected in a free and fair election – NOT!!) wants to reform the economy without “abandoning some of the socialist ideals and principles that inspired the revolution”. He wants a new “sustainable socialism”. 

This sounds to me like a simple case of Castro Jr wanting to have his cake and eat it. A failing economic system obviously embarrasses the regime, but the government clearly does not want to liberalise the country’s politics. Whilst the Castros are in charge Cuba will remain a one-party state where human rights abuses are routine, where censorship and control of the populace are seen as vital to the success of the revolution, and where the ultimate power of the country’s leadership remains unchallenged.

Fawthrop quotes Mariela Castro, the president’s daughter who works for the government, as saying: “Cuban people are asking for a much more sustainable socialism, not a return to capitalism. They want a permanent system of consultation, better mechanisms of participation to work for a democratic socialism.”

That sounds lovely. However, without a firm committment to multi-party elections, an end to press censorship, the freeing of political prisoners, etc, it’s hard to take anything a Castro says about ‘democratic socialism’ too seriously. Mariela is apparently “well-known as an independent voice within Havana’s ruling elite”. Presumably it is much easier to be an independent voice in Cuba when your daddy is el presidente and you probably don’t have to worry too much about being locked up for criticising the government. 

Yes, we all know that the Cuban Revolution gave the country a decent health system and that the crippling US embargo is unfair and should be abandoned. But these arguments do not disguise the massive, glaring truth that Cuba is a Communist Party dictatorship where one family rules supreme. The Cuban model is a stain upon the word ‘socialism’. A move towards democracy would of course be welcome, but I won’t hold my breath.

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2 Responses to “Keeping the Cuban monarchy “sustainable”?”

  1. Jimmy Glesga Says:

    The problem the US would have is if the Cuban people voted for Castro in a fair democratic election. The US would then do what it normally does and find any excuse to invalidate the election. If the Cuban people voted for Castro in a UN administered monitored ACCEPTABLE election the US WOULD NOT ACCEPT THE DECISION. The US are only interested in their own economic interest. The US will only be satisfied when Cuba is restored to the Mafia and a former playboy brothel.

  2. captainjako Says:

    Well, I guess that’s the argument the Castro’s use to justify keeping themselves in power, locking up political prisoners, censoring the press, etc.

    Obviously US policy towards Cuba in the 1950s and 60s shaped the character of the revolutionary regime. But for how long can the spectre of Yankee imperialism be used as an excuse for the continuing lack of meaningful democratic reforms?

    I don’t think there’s any firm evidence that the US government today would not accept the results of a UN monitored election in Cuba that resulted in a Castro victory. I don’t think anyone can seriously imagine a Bay of Pigs-style invasion taking place.

    There is, however, a lot of evidence that the Castros’ definition of ‘sustaining the revolution’ equates to sustaining themselves as leaders of Cuba and refusing to accept that that the Cuban people deserve the opportunity to shape their own futures.

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