Can the armed forces act as a catalyst for a future of economic progress
and political openness in Cuba?
JOSÉ HUGO FERNÁNDEZ | Miami | 24 de Junio de 2016 - 1:34 am.
To believe in the possibility that the armed forces might act as a
catalyst facilitating a future of economic progress and political
openness in Cuba is, at best, gullible. It is even more naive to expect
the upcoming promotions of the military hierarchy to rectify the course
set by the current leaders, whether by force or through generational
renewal, dismantling the "funnel capitalism" (only for them) in place
today and replacing it with real capitalism – which actually wouldn't be
very different, in our case, as an underdeveloped country in ruins and,
as such, doomed to be economically dependent, but which at least would
represent an escape route to a brighter future.
However, there are many today who have pinned their hopes on one or
another of these scenarios; perhaps thinking that, if you are going to
dream, you might as well dream big, even if it's impossible.
Of course, with Cuba's great political-economic-military leviathan, the
elites who currently hold Cuba's fate in their hands will have to play a
pivotal role. But this, far from benefiting the future, will probably
spoil it, condemning us to suffer the worst legacy that fidelismo could
ever give us, for a long time to come.
The military class and democracy are like oil and water, and there is no
magic potion that will allow them to mix. Even though there are examples
of cases in which the former has served as a guarantor of the latter,
this was always the result of circumstances representing the opposite of
the Cuban situation; that is, militaries trained under and forming part
of democratic systems that they ultimately opted to defend.
The Cuban military cadre is, by its very nature, a body antagonistic to
democratic culture. Having never even experienced it, it certainly feels
no obligation to respect it. Hence, it is easy to anticipate their
outright, absolute rejection of the two pillars of modernity: political
freedom and a free, prosperous economy. Our military brass's conviction
that the State should monopolise the country's economic life, in order
to ensure "social justice," as they understand it, represents an
obstacle for young and old alike.
As for the heirs themselves, one should not expect them to act
differently if we take into account the circumstances they have always
known, in which they have grown up and been trained, marrying amongst
each other, establishing kindred and other affective ties, existing in a
kind of zootechnic bubble, totally out of touch with the country and its
Rather than allowing themselves to be attracted by the benefits of
democracy and the values of civility, what ought to be expected, and
feared, is that tomorrow, like today, this military caste will continue
to pollute, corrupt and usurp them.
A clique holed up in its own cave, shielded from the struggles and
aspirations of ordinary people, Cuba's military leadership, far from
facilitating democratic transition, seems destined to prevent it. Those
who see them as potential enablers of transition on the Island, based on
the great economic power they boast, and the allegedly efficient and
pragmatic way they administrate it, should not overlook (at least) two
First, that economic power is not the result of independent financial
investments, or the fruit of their talent, efforts or sacrifices.
Rather, it is a gift bestowed on them by fidelismo, which, in turn,
obtained it through expropriations and subsidies. Thus, this caste is
but a parasite of the ineffectual system that it, purportedly, will be
willing to overturn. Second, without reliable statistics, the efficiency
with which these generals have been administrating the country's major
revenue-receiving business organisations in recent decades should be
viewed with skepticism. Not to mention their laughable reputation as
austere and pragmatic.
What is frequently referred to as the Cuban military's "pragmatism" is
actually nothing but mediocre and robotic performance, entirely
dependent on the authorities above it, having little or nothing to do
with genuine pragmatism.
Not without a certain turning of the stomach, let us remember that some
of the fiendish military tyrannies that plagued Latin America years ago
at least managed to spawn some economic progress. Hopefully this will
not be the model advanced by those in favor of relying on Cuba's
generals and colonels to pave the way towards progress. Well, though
these replicants of Pinochet are certainly devious enough, they are
lacking the economic culture and business efficiency to mimic that model.
Source: Can the armed forces act as a catalyst for a future of economic
progress and political openness in Cuba? | Diario de Cuba -