Succession in Cuba

Erasmo Calzadilla
Erasmo Calzadilla

A few days ago, Cuba shuddered following the removal of numerous political and administrative figures from their posts in the high spheres of power.

Among the names that particularly stood out were Carlos Lage Davila, the Secretary of the Council of Ministers; and Felipe Perez Roque, the foreign minister. It was a surprise was because these men, both relatively young, had led outstanding political and executive careers for more than a decade, and their faces and names were never absent from the media.

Since these figures represented the hope of fresh air for the revolution, I want to make the most of the occasion to think aloud on the matter of the transition of power in Cuba, a topic so exceedingly threadbare.

With the departure the old men, it will be necessary to recall what has been forgotten, and to learn what we never knew.  Photo: Claire Vuillaume
With the departure the old men, it will be necessary to recall what has been forgotten, and to learn what we never knew. Photo: Claire Vuillaume

Even accepting as true that the transition of power in our country can be democratic and just, it is undeniable that these domestic hurricanes have left standing in their wake only the oldest of stock: an old troop of soldiers of irreproachable honesty and fidelity. However, their strength has begun to decline and will become even more inalterable with the passing of time.

The matter now is who will take their places if all of the youth -even those who spoke their same language, those who were trained for such a long time, those who even enjoyed Fidel’s esteem- demonstrated themselves in the end to be unreliable. What will be left for the sprouts that bud from now on?

These 50 years of revolution have left a deep imprint on Cuban culture regarding the issue of power and its authenticity.

I fear that people no longer hold a great deal of respect for our institutions and organizations, because these have shown their unquestioning alignment with the will of the leaders. Nor have these bodies shown respect for beliefs and ideologies, since they are not contortionists that can flexibly adapt to their environment, at least not without major problems.

People no longer believe in their own power for self-government; nor do not have such a habit after a half century of top-down administration.

In short, despite the beneficial accomplishments over the years in the areas of healthcare, education and other vital services, this period has been disastrous, from my point of view, in terms of civic culture.

This holds true especially in relation to governance. With the departure the old men, it will be necessary to recall what has been forgotten, and to learn what we never knew.

In an environment such as this, in which the people’s relationship to the leaders has become a matter of loyalty, the only way anybody could govern with legitimacy is with their gradually winning the people’s respect through their daily efforts.

However, that changing of the guard has not yet begun, and succession could suddenly become a very convulsive moment.

There is an opportunity for change here, and just as those who seek to commit piracy against Cuba lie in wait, so too do those who aspire for a socialism without Big Brother. Who will prevail?

5 thoughts on “<em>Succession in Cuba</em>

  • lo que hemos vivido, no es transición, sino sucesión, continuación, peor, simulación de transicion, espero que el socialismo libertario y alternativo ¨suceda¨ al dogmatico, burocrático y normativo, sólo desde lo escencial podremos aspirar a lo tracendental, y eso, ha sido demostrado durante los 10 000 años de historia y memoria colectiva de la nación cubana (aquí incluyo la presencia y la resistencia indígena) por supuesto, ha eso me refiero, no podemos aspirar a una ¨transición ¨ sin antes, exorcisarnos de tanto lastre, Un abrazo, hermano.

  • I am thinking, Erasmo, that despite the fifty years of top-down leadership, still, as exemplified by yourself and the other younger posters–in fact most of all those who post their diaries, opinions, and feature stories here, regardless of age–are examples of how Cubans do have the ability, the intelligence, the articulation to take control of the Revolution’s democratic institutions; this will happen sooner, rather than later. In this sense, the Revolution has been successful, for it has facilitated the growth and development of a confident and competent generation, and this generation will inevitably take power. As I’ve stated elsewhere, it may be “two steps forward and one backward,” the latter exemplified by the recent dismissal/demotion of Companeros Lage and Roque; nevertheless, in the end a NG (new generation) will confidently step forward to assume the mantles of power. It is time the older generation to make way for the new generation. Also, it is time for the older generation to have some faith that these new generations, children of the Revolution that they are, have the ability to preserve and carry forward the Revolution. !Adelante, Cubanos!

  • Erasmo,

    I am thinking I had better not comment on this.

    SA Robert

  • Point of clarification: Bruno is only 7 years older than Felipe and is 7 years younger than Lage.

  • This is serious business here indeed. If power does not swiftly devolve to the masses, regardless — that is, if the bureaucracy refuses to let go of the power it has relentlessly accumulated over 50 years — then the imperialists will certainly have their opportunity to break the Revolution, rather than it continue to bend to necessary circumstances; and even considering the present crisis state of world-wide imperialism.

    At some point you simply have to trust in the people, right?

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