Raul Castro’s Visit to Mexico Suggestive of Cuba’s New Course

He ignored the fate of the 43 disappeared students.

Isbel Diaz Torres

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Raul Castro. Photo: cubadebate.cu
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Raul Castro. Photo: cubadebate.cu

HAVANA TIMES — At the beginning of the month, Raul Castro visited Mexico as part of Cuba’s search for broader international markets, a process he and those who follow him in Cuba’s entrepreneurial and military spheres are currently involved in.

The Cuban president didn’t really say anything substantial. It proved far more interesting to find out – from the mouth of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto – the details about the five cooperation agreements between Mexican corporations and their counterparts on the island.

During a dinner offered by Peña Nieto, Raul Castro had the opportunity to reveal his wish to make regular private visits to Mexico after he steps down in 2018.

I don’t want to dwell on how offensive this comes across when voiced by a Cuban politician who allegedly promotes social equality, in a country where retired persons live in precarious conditions owing to inadequate State help and can’t even dream of visiting the Isle of Pines, let alone Mexico.

What strikes me as truly symptomatic and helps us better grasp the political and ideological course Cuba has set is the fact that not once during his trip did the Cuban leader offer any words of solidarity, or at least sympathy, for the relatives of the students who disappeared in Ayotzinapa, or for the thousands of activists in Mexico demanding answers in this connection.

Some will likely invoke issues of diplomatic protocol, but the truth of the matter is that, at other points in our history, protocol was never above certain principles.

On the other hand, let us not forget that we are dealing with a government (the Cuban government) that constantly seeks to discredit its opponents by pointing out their links (real or made up) with organizations or States that seek to destabilize the island politically.

How, then, can a Cuban president legitimate his official ties with a government that practices State narco-terrorism, or the affectionate words addressed to this government?

Will the international Left again condone such double standards on the basis of Cuba’s “exceptionality”? Was there anything actually exceptional in this quasi-business visit by Raul Castro?

In Cuba, we’ve already seen him receive unsavory types such as Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and the three last Popes, world icons of serious violations of LGBT rights, without this having spelled any kind of political cost for the government elite, adding to our own history (and present) of human rights violations.

It’s clear that the “pragmatism” of Cuba’s president points down the old road of distancing governments from their respective peoples (could it work any other way?) and of inserting Cuba into the global economy at all costs.

The process of updating Cuba’s model, at least in the manner in which it is being implemented, is nothing other than ditching the much-touted project of social equality and hastening the restoration of capitalism on the island – devoid of the elements (questionable in their application, but attractive and necessary) of democracy and human rights.


Isbel Diaz

Isbel Diaz Torres: Pinar del Rio and Havana are my cities. I was born in one on March 1, 1976, and I’ve always lived in the other. I am a biologist and poet, though at times I’ve also been a musician, translator, teacher, computer geek, designer, photographer and editor. I’m very non-conformist and a defender of differences – perhaps due to always having been an ever-repressed “model child.” Nothing enthralls me more than the unknown, nature and art; these serve as my sources of mystery and development. A surprising activism has been born in me over the recent period. Though I’m not very sure how to channel it, I feel that it’s a worthy and legitimate energy. Let’s hope I have the discernment to manage it.

2 thoughts on “Raul Castro’s Visit to Mexico Suggestive of Cuba’s New Course

  • You get better and better Isbel!

  • Isbel, I like your profile and have an offer for you. May I please have your email address? thanks

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