Monday, February 23, 2015

The Castro Brothers Pull the Emergency Brake

The Castro Brothers Pull the Emergency Brake / Ivan Garcia
Posted on February 22, 2015

Ivan Garcia, 18 February 2015 — Fidel Castro appeared. The bearded old
man spoke in an elliptical address that sowed fear of future relations
between the two Cold War enemies.

The message was meant to cool the enthusiasm of the young. The old
guerrilla, bellicose as ever, gummed up the works and dampened the
festive atmosphere of a large segment of the island's population who
want to see an end to the longstanding dispute between Cuba and the
United States.

You need not be a code breaker to decipher the meaning. It was a storm
warning: The Yankees are still at the gate, only now with different weapons.

The hackneyed theory of ripe fruit. The gringos want to clog us with
McDonald's, broadband internet and smartphones. This time the Trojan
horse is not a missile; it's a computer.

Then it's back to the trenches. The "barbarians from the North" want to
take your money, apply their technology and do business, but only with
the state. Castro I is sounding the alarm.

We do not yet know — perhaps we will in the future — if this was a
concerted media offensive or if the old comandante is acting on his own.
What we do know is that his brother Raul put on his boxing gloves at a
summit in Costa Rica and made an offer.

The demands could have filled a basket. Some were unrealistic and
over-the-top. Castro II was probably bluffing but it was an audacious
move. The trick was knowing how far to test the limits of President
Obama's patience.

White House eagerness to arrive in April at Summit of the Americas in
Panama with negotiations well underway, embassies reopened and an
ongoing dialogue taking the burden of Cuba off its relationship with the
rest of the continent is the Castro brothers' secret weapon.

The playing field is uncertain. Venezuela is taking on water and Cuba's
finances are in the red. But in its favor the military regime has
managed to maintain social and political control over an anesthetized

However, they are stretched to the limit. In spite of being
octogenarian, the Castros have more time to spare than Obama. Almost two
months after the surprising diplomatic turn of events on December 17,
Cuban authorities have decided to dampen the enthusiasm of Afro-Cubans.

The party propaganda machine is working at full speed. Editorials in
government-run newspapers tell us the enemy is still out there.
Negotiating with the Castros is an exercise in pure abstraction. They
are always playing with marked cards. Or with nothing. But this time
they have slipped up. Times have changed.

People are tired of all the mess, of the embargo, of a system that does
not work, of the fear-mongering speeches. The narrative is no longer
having its effect. When you ask eighteen- to thirty-year-old Cubans to
where they would most like to emigrate, most say the United States.

The Castros' policies have boomeranged. Never before in Cuba have so
many people idolized the United States' culture, consumerism and
lifestyle as today.

It is a trivialized version of American society. Due to a lack of
information — or simply because they suspect that the regime is lying —
adolescents, young people and even many adults believe that in the
United States dollars fall from the sky in parachutes.

Private sector workers think applying for a micro-credit loan from a New
York bank is as easy as ordering a lemonade in Pinar del Rio or
Cienfuegos. Since December 17 many Cubans have come to believe in
political science fiction.

The Castro brothers have not outlined a strategy in which a street
vendor or a private farmer can get a small loan from the United States.

Obama has also been blowing smoke. After eighteen months of secret
negotiations and with information provided by the CIA, the White House
should have foreseen that — as has always been the case — the Cuban
regime would defend itself by going on the attack.

The philosophy of survival is a favorite for the brothers from Biran.
From the perspective of the average Cuban, however, Obama is the
winner. On the streets of Havana it is Fidel and Raul who are blamed for
slowing down negotiations.

But the Castros are only interested in holding onto power and
controlling every future diplomatic move. President Obama's roadmap was
merely a shovel for digging his own grave. They are no fools. They have
pulled the emergency brake.

18 February 2015

Source: The Castro Brothers Pull the Emergency Brake / Ivan Garcia |
Translating Cuba -

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