Sunday, July 31, 2011

Five Years Ago Raul Castro "Inherited" a Nation and Its People; What Has He Done With It?

Yoani Sanchez - Award-Winning Cuban Blogger

Five Years Ago Raul Castro "Inherited" a Nation and Its People; What Has
He Done With It?
Posted: 7/31/11 01:30 PM ET

"The chocolate is over!" screamed my two friends, as I opened the door
that night of July 31, 2006. They were alluding, with their improvised
slogan, to the latest plan pushed by Fidel Castro to distribute a
chocolate quota to every Cuban through the ration market. When the
doorbell rang there were only two hours left before the first of August
and Carlos Valenciaga, Fidel's personal secretary, had already read a
proclamation on TV announcing the unexpected illness of the Maximum
Leader. The lights at the Council of State remained lit -- oddly -- and
an anomalous silence settled over the city. During that long night, no
one could sleep a wink in our house.

As they reached for their second glass of rum, my friends began to count
how many times they had planned for that day, predicted that news. He, a
singer-songwriter; she, a television producer. Both had been born and
grown up under the power of the same president, who had determined even
the smallest details of their lives. I listened to them talk and was
surprised by their relief, the flood of desires for the future now
unleashed. Perhaps they felt more free after that announcement. Time
would bring them to understand that while we were chatting about the
future, others were ensuring that the package of succession was neatly
tied up.

Five years later, the country has been transferred, entirely via blood.
Raul Castro has received the inheritance of a nation, its resources, its
problems and even its inhabitants. Everything he has done in the last
five years stems from the imperative not to lose this family possession,
passed on to him by his brother. The slow pace of his reforms, their
timidity and superficiality, is marked in part by feeling himself the
beneficiary of the patrimony entrusted to him. And what, you wonder, of
my friends? When they realized that under the younger brother the
repression would continue, that the penalization of opinion would remain
intact, they distanced themselves, frightened. Never again did they
knock on my door, never again did they enter this place where, in 2006,
they had come screaming, believing that the future had begun.

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