Cuba's politburo threatened by senility
By PEDRO ROIG
It is not difficult to understand that the discourse of the Cuban
revolution has been manipulating dreams for 50 years in a delirious
frenzy of unfulfilled promises.
Fidel Castro, the elderly Marxist dictator, appeared briefly at the
Sixth Congress of the Communist Party, looking very fragile, not
speaking, raising the arm of his brother Raúl, now confirmed as First
Party Secretary, and surrounded by the 15 members of the Politburo, half
of whom are generals between the ages of 72 and 83.
Fidel himself, 84, appeared weak and walked with difficulty, but it was
clear that, despite his precarious health, he is dying stunningly
slowly, which, some analysts say, hinders Raúl Castro's work.
Half a century into the failure of the revolution, the Sixth Congress
concluded with an incoherent report that contained contradictory signals
about five-year plans to establish bank credit, decentralize the state's
economy, set up commercial contracts to solve conflicts and give Cubans
the right to own their homes and buy and sell cars. But at the end, the
hard line of the decrepit Marxist socialist imposed itself.
Arteriosclerosis clung to power. The visceral intolerance of an
"irreversible" socialism, along with the crushing presence of the
military high command and the absence of a generational relay, formed
the framework of the Sixth Congress of the PCC that ended with the
delegates singing the Internationale, whose lyrics mention "the poor of
the world and the slaves without bread."
These concepts are applicable to socialist Cuba, which in the past 50
years has become one of the world's poorest nations, without civil
liberties. Perhaps this was the Congress' most lucid moment.
Pervaded by a high dose of senility, the Politburo admitted only three
new members and confirmed José Ramón Machado Ventura, 80, the hardest of
the dogmatic leaders, as Second Secretary, with the support of the
hardline generals, including Ramiro Valdés, another veteran of the
Machado Ventura refuses to abandon the Marxist-Leninist model and, like
Fidel Castro, only admits economic concessions of a superficial and
There's no room for doubt. The Old Revolutionary Guard remained in
charge of the Cuban government — something like socialist control of
In his report to the Sixth Congress, Raúl Castro referred to his
Marxist-Leninist commitment, describing the guidelines as the way "to
actualize the economic and social model for the purpose of guaranteeing
the irreversibility of socialism."
Reaffirming the dogma's hard line, Raúl Castro invoked the memory of
Lenin, saying: "There are some very well-defined concepts that, in
essence, are just as valid as when Lenin formulated them almost 100
years ago. These must be taken up again."
How can anyone generate prosperity and emerge from the misery in which
the Cuban nation is mired by insisting on the continuity and
irreversibility of socialism? That's simply impossible.
About the generational relay, Raúl Castro stated that the revolution
does not have "a reserve of trained substitutes." That pessimism reminds
us of the case of Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa, which led to the process called
"the rectification of errors."
After the execution of Ochoa, Fidel Castro expressed his concern about
the evident failure of the schools that trained the new socialist
leaders. Everything is the same. Fifty years of revolution, and the
state still doesn't have "a reserve of trained substitutes."
Two years ago, Carlos Lage, Fernando Remírez de Estenoz and Felipe Pérez
Roque, three young promises of the revolution, were eliminated from the
line of succession by being removed from their positions.
However, Raúl Castro has found safety in his sons-in-law, Lázaro
Expósito Canto, party secretary in Santiago de Cuba, and Luis Alberto
Rodríguez López Calleja, head of the Armed Forces' business group.
That's how things are going in Cuba under "irreversible" socialism. The
good news out of the Sixth Congress is that they promised not to stay in
power one minute beyond 10 years.
Pedro Roig is senior adviser at the Institute for Cuban and
Cuban-American Studies of the University of Miami.
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