Cholera in Cuba
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No Time for Sadness in an Exhausted Cuba

No Time for Sadness in an Exhausted Cuba
October 7, 2014
Carlos Cabrera Perez (Café Fuerte)

HAVANA TIMES — Cuba is socially and economically exhausted, and neither
Raul Castro nor the opposition have any time to implement the structural
reforms needed to keep the country from falling off the edge of the
cliff. All the while, the island’s former head of State continues to
suffer from a Jesuitical short-sightedness and in his futile attempts to
re-write history.

Such structural reforms demand the reaching of a consensus among all
political sensitivities on the island and abroad. However, with the
exception of the Catholic Church and the non-conflictive émigré
community (which yields uncritically to all of Havana’s demands), the
regime has been unable to build any bridges to that rainbow of political
tendencies that opposes through peaceful means, insisting on its
shopworn formula that they are enemy agents.

The opposition and Cuban émigré community – constantly vilified and
persecuted by the regime – have a limited impact on the population
because of the fear that a dictatorship inspires, the lack of economic
resources and their own political mistakes, the result of untimely
ambitions prompted, in part, by the Socialist, Christian Democratic and
Liberal Internationals, which tend to reward those who are most faithful
to their slogans.

Economic Changes, Political Changes

The widespread and mistaken belief that economic changes necessarily
lead to political changes continues to crash and burn in places like
Russia, Vietnam and China, where the Leninist leadership continues to
control the game and keep people happy with breadcrumbs, after having
consolidated their politico-military castes.

In Cuba’s case, it is clear that the struggle against corruption does
not include the military (the emerging privileged class), while
civilians like the former Vice-Minister for Sugar are convicted to as
many as 20 years in prison. In the long term, this tactical and forceful
impunity will work against the military establishment, recently exposed
to hard currency and seeking to control the entire tourism industry
though the Gaviota corporation.

An orderly and peaceful transition towards democracy demands a previous
political consensus among all sectors, a consensus that, among other
things, ought to adopt measures to buffer the effects of the transition
on the most vulnerable (the elderly, the chronically ill, blacks and
people of mixed race, women and single mothers).

Democracy should not arrive in Havana holding hands with the IMF, the
World Bank and those who blindly worship the market and consider it the
sole, legitimate regulator of society. It must, rather, be the result of
a broad national pact that promotes social justice, a price system and
the placing of the human capital created by the Castro regime at the
service of Cuba and Cubans.

Grub, the Ebola Virus, Dengue and a Way Out

Was it necessary to smack nearly all Fidelistas away and to replace
these with Raul Castro’s cronies and subordinate military officers? In
order to undertake deep reforms, perhaps it was. Eight years later,
however, guaranteeing that people have at least one glass of milk for
breakfast continues to be a dilemma. Cuba continues to endure a
two-currency system, 25% of its population is poor (according to
official statistics), oil has yet to issue from the ground, and the
country is faced with new challenges including food shortages, the Ebola
virus [for its medical personnel aborad], Chukunguya, cholera, dengue
and constant emigration through sea and air.

If Hugo Chavez’ election and the bilateral cooperation agreements signed
with Venezuela buried the next-to-last attempt to achieve economic
independence made by Cuban entrepreneurs with Communist Party membership
cards, Fidel Castro’s survival, following several health crises that
placed him at the brink of death, neutralized all of Raul Castro’s
efforts to truly undertake the reform process.

The Arab Spring, the assassination of Gadhafi and the abandonment of the
US ally Hosni Mubarak by Washington (which dealt the Middle East arena a
blow at the most complicated moment in its history) must also have had
an impact on the outlook of the Cuban leader.

This time around, Havana can’t even complain about the attitude assumed
by Washington, which has opted for a low-profile policy that favors
cordiality over the obsolete language of aggression, in exchange for
having Raul Castro’s leadership guarantee that Venezuela does not go up
in flames, that it keep the US informed about Colombia’s peace talks and
that it help in the struggle against drug trafficking and illegal

The Insatiable TV Evangelist

It is terrible, however, that this chess match should be played on an
island that, for months, has been on the brink of a crisis more severe
than the one it experienced in the 90s, when (according to official
figures) Cuba lost 45 % of its GDP. At the time, however, it still had
the “war reserves” made in the USSR intact, and this served to alleviate
the hunger of Cubans in those days.

A glance at Fidel Castro’s latest and nonsensical reflection reveals the
political schizophrenia of the Castro regime, split between a sensible
administrator devoid of charisma, who will retire a frustrated man, and
a charismatic TV evangelist, who will die trying to turn his defeats
into victory.

The legacy of the Castros will be difficult to manage in an exhausted
and pessimistic country that is wary of change and mistaken in its
belief that everything foreign is better, a country that does not even
have the time for sadness.

For the time being, the island’s curia appears to have the lead, for,
during Jaime Ortega’s recent visit to Raul Castro, the Catholic cardinal
expressed surprise at the many empty and closed offices in the house of
government, to which the revolutionary leader replied: “I’ll rent them
out to ya, Jaime.”

Source: No Time for Sadness in an Exhausted Cuba – Havana –

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