Iván García, Translator: Adrian Rodriguez
The administration of General Raul Castro has known how to improvise
with the car in motion. Castro II, who this past June 3rd turned 80
years old, has had a trajectory as a warrior, soldier, and politician,
always crouching under the shadow of his media star brother who governed
the island for 47 years with a self-centered power and long
General Castro knows his limitations. He doesn't have the gift of gab to
capture his world political counterparts or fill plazas with fiery
harangues. He is used to working as a team. And he listens without
interrupting the statements of others.
He also never had the complex of a world statesmen. He never was the top
of the class. But he has taken on guiding the fate of a nation
impoverished by 52 years of crazy economics, ferocious bureaucracy,
military campaigns, and subversion in the Third World. He knows that his
mission is trying to save the historic legacy of the revolution and
attempting to create ideological continuity after his death and that of
Before starting to renovate the building on a weak foundation, he did an
evaluation of the dangers. The diagnosis was correct. There were more
than enough bureaucrats; the communist party is an intruder in the
subject of business administration; there was a need to stimulate
self-employment and also send more than a million workers to the
He emphasized belt-tightening to not go over the budget, something
sacred. No more taking money from public funds just to fulfill whimsical
ideas like the construction of a biotechnology center outside of the
annual planning. That was his brother's way, who jumped over the rules
as easily as drinking a glass of water.
Still Castro II believes in Marxist theories. But he is realistic. And
when he opens on his desk the world map, he observes that no communist
nation moved forward using quinquennial plans and a centralized economy.
But he is cautious.
Still he has the jealous and vigilant eye of his brother taking note. He
is trying to buy time. The erosion of power when he lets people act on
their own disgusts Fidel Castro. He always preferred to keep the herd
tied up. Let the state give the good and bad news. The awards or the
But the General and his military partners think differently. It doesn't
matter how you call the ideology, what it is essential is to have the
power. And that people drink milk, eat well, and get enough money to
consume and have fun.
Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz has always been a plotter. His reforms will be
at a Danzón pace. Slow, sure, and anticipating disasters. But decidedly,
at the end of the tunnel, the model Cuba tries to follow is a mixture of
Vietnam and China, beautified with components from Latin-American
folklore, like the nonsense of the new socialism of Chavez or the
pragmatism of a modern left like the Brazilian one.
He plays three ways. From China he needs money and experience on
handling a market economy and an inflexible control over the dissidents.
Vietnam is a good example on how a nation can come back from a bloody war.
There are similarities between Cuba and Vietnam. Excepting the million
deaths that the conflict between USA-Vietnam left behind, the almost 50
years of Castro I's government left the nation financially and
economically as if it was coming from a catastrophe.
The General is reluctantly supporting Chavez: he is an ally of his
brother. An obnoxious political inheritance. The one from Barinas has no
brakes. Not even a clutch. Ignores discretion. He has the brain directly
connected with the tongue. A capital sin for a statesman.
But the Venezuelan commander has oil. Which is expensive, and Cuba needs
it to restart its economy. Raul Castro doesn't go all the way out, he
prefers to follow him from a prudential distance. He uses logic. If
Chavez has won the power through elections once, the same electoral
system will take him back home.
That's why he goes all the way out for Brazil. It is not a bad option.
The green giant is the number ten economy of the world. The left, that
governed and currently governs, has demonstrated a capacity beyond its
third world political discourse against poverty and in favor of the
social justice, being guests at the White House galas and in world
Moreover, Brasil has the necessary technology to extract the possible
crude oil deposited in the sea bed of Cuban waters, and its exploitation
will end the Cuban dependency on the Venezuelan oil.
In fact, right now, Brazil is an important economic partner for the
government. 800 million dollars on the Mariel project speaks for itself.
The already started construction west of Havana promises. And promises a
lot. According to the figures of local analysts, it will be the biggest
harbor in the Caribbean, with capacity to store more than a million
containers, and with factories and duty-free zones in the near future
When the embargo is finally lifted and Castro's heirs are welcomed in
Washington, Miami's cove as a door to the Americas may pass to a second
place. It is the opening of Castro II's play. He knows that no USA
politician in office will dialogue with him or his brother.
And in advance he prepares a dolphin. Therefore, the current reforms of
the General have several steps. And at the end the balance will be
leaning towards a market economy. He hasn't been dogmatic either.
When he notices that something does not work, either excessive taxation
or absurd rules, as in the case of increasing the number of chairs in a
'paladar' (a private home restaurant), lowering the taxes on gypsy cabs
or increasing the amount of acres and the lease time for small farmers,
he changed all of these without hesitation.
To maintain the Biran dynasty, the General will cede anything he has to.
Including, to design an opposition to meet his needs. Remember, Raul is
a full-time conspirator. Of course, the real reforms will begin after
the death of Fidel.
Translated by Adrian Rodriguez
June 17 2011