What to expect from Cuba: a concise and very perceptive analysis

Professor Jaime Suchlicki, Director of the Cuban Studies Institute, has written a wonderful summary aimed at U.S. policy makers, outlining the current situation in Cuba and forecasting what might happen when King Raul dies.

It was precisely this kind of incisive, clear-eyed analysis that led Castrophiles and liberals of all stripes to demand that the University of Miami fire Professor Suchlicki and close down his Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies.

Fortunately, despite the University of Miami’s heavy-handed effort to silence him, Jaime Suchlicki has not given up on enlightening policy makers and the general public though his new Cuban Studies Institute.

Cuba: What To Expect

The Domestic Scene
The limited economic changes introduced by Gen. Raúl Castro in Cuba encouraged some observers to proclaim the end of communism and the dismantling of the totalitarian system in the island.

Notwithstanding Raúl Castro’s own statements that he was not elected to restore capitalism, these observers insisted on their belief that economic reforms will be deepened and Cuba will march merrily into capitalism or at least a Chinese-style capitalism.

If the objectives of the Castro government were truly to move toward a market economy, it would not limit economic enterprises to some 200 individual activities, i.e. barbershops, shoe shinning, pizza parlors; to lease vacant lands to individual farmers to produce mostly subsistence agriculture; or to liberalize the real estate and auto markets. In addition, the onerous taxes, regulations, and license fees imposed on these activities are not conducive toward the development of prosperous and free enterprises.

It is very difficult for Gen. Raúl Castro to reject his brother’s legacy of political and economic centralization. Raúl’s legitimacy is based on being Fidel’s heir. Any major move to reject Fidel’s “teachings” would create uncertainty among Cuba’s ruling elites – party and military. It could also increase instability as some would advocate rapid change, while others cling to more orthodox policies. Cubans could see this as an opportunity for mobilization, demanding faster reforms.

For Raúl, the uncertainties of uncorking the “genie’s reform bottle” in Cuba are greater than keeping the lid on and moving cautiously. For the past five decades, political considerations have always dictated the economic decisions of the communist leadership in the island.

At 86 years of age, General Castro wants to muddle through these difficult times introducing limited changes and maintaining tight political control and continuous repression. His aim is to calm down a growing unhappy population and to prevent a social explosion, not to transform Cuba into a capitalist society. By his actions and statements, Raúl Castro is signaling that Cuba will remain a failed totalitarian experiment for the foreseeable future.

His relinquishing the Presidency to a minor communist Party bureaucrat in early 2018, while remaining as Secretary General of the Party and de facto leader of the military, is a clear indication of a limited succession and not a transition process. The new President, Miguel Diaz-Canel, has no military or popular support and will be beholding to the wishes of Raul and his close military allies in the Party’s Politburo. The recent creation of a military “troika” to rule over the three regions of Cuba is a further example of a militarized succession in the island.

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