What will happen in Cuba, in an imminent future, after Raul Castro passes away?
HAVANA TIMES – A little over five years since Fidel Castro’s death, after the initial sobbing and rejoicing – temporary but much-needed reactions -, Cubans had to take something in. Right now, the years that have passed have done very little to define the scope of this death. Instead, another digression has been seen on the island and in the exile community, as if the wake was prolonged after the burial and starting a new life was an extension for the corpse.
Castro shaped the fate of far too many people’s lives for decades, which means that something so definitive like his death wasn’t going to be overlooked. But in reality, it has translated into a feeling of emptiness and impotence.
Up until about two decades ago, in Miami the idea that Castro would die lying on his bed was a very difficult idea to take in. But it slowly imposed itself.
In the final stage of his life, beyond the ravages of sickness, the onslaught of getting old and photos that showed clear physical decline, the fact that Castro was still making the rules of the game was always present, even in his obstinacy to death.
For people living on the island, getting used to his daily absence was a natural and timely phenomenon, in accordance with the generation one belonged to, and the following generations had to accept it.
Castro had been around for many Cubans’ lives. They lived and died without knowing any other ruler. This emotional burden hasn’t been easy to assimilate. Cries and sobbing, displays of sadness and joy, homages and acts of rejection were just about able to channel the great importance of this event.
In the exile community, two seemingly contradictory, but ultimately complimentary feelings have settled in, after the initial reaction. The first has to do with closing a chapter. The second with the end of a dream.
“No Castro, no problem,” was the favorite sticker in emigres’ cars, at one time. However, Castro lived long enough to prove that his physical demise wouldn’t be the end of his oppression: his departure from the world hasn’t been synonomous with a leap back in time, returning to 1950s Cuba.
Today, after his little brother’s departure from the presidency of the island and the highest command in the Cuban Communist Party’s Central Committee, there is very little hope of any real change. Cuba’s problems endure after the Castros.
People thought that excuses not to do things differently would run out with Fidel Castro’s death. Over decades in Cuba, people have learned to master the art of patience: a better future, a gradual change in living conditions, a providential trip abroad. For decades, there has also been an attitude of not taking risks, of believing in chance, of resigning oneself to indifference. None of this has changed after Fidel Castro’s physical disappearance.
It’s likely nothing will change in this regard after Raul Castro’s physical demise either. If leaving the country has meant for many Cubans reaching somewhere without his presence, there is a whole ‘nother bundle of emotions – defined by geography and history – that encapsulate feelings that go beyond their physical departure. Some have tried to turn the page and keep going, but it hasn’t been so easy for others. While they’d managed to banish the figure of “Comandante en Jefe” from their lives, the day he died, they had to contemplate, consciously or subconsciously, the alternative of forgetting this as quickly as possible or not. If they didn’t, this would end up being another frustration. Trying to represented greater hope, at least. For the more unfortunate, Fidel Castro will be dead for far too long.
What will happen after Raul passes away?
Another question, which is also based on emotion, but especially political and with everyday consequences is what will happen in Cuba, in an imminent future, after Fidel’s younger brother passes away?
This kind of palace death has set the expiry date on his life in the spotlight, and has fired hopes in Miami for a brief moment of street rejoicement. However, Fidel Castro’s death hasn’t meant the end of the feudal concept of time that has prevailed on the island for decadees. The eternity of the consecrated January 1st 1959 has still not come to an end. It’s rather just another game of trinkets: parades to an elephant cemetery, which is never about the bones.
There’s only room for so much hope in Fidelista Miami. In this regard, the two most important events for Miami in November 2016 – Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States and Castro’s death – managed to revive the dream, for a few months, of this city going back in time. However, reality has shown its face, both regarding Cuba and the US, and proven that a complete regression to the past is impossible.
Paraphrasing Sartre: with Castro dead, some emigres have found themselves forced to create him all over again: they need him to be everlasting, eternal, permanent in their lives. If they needed him alive before, to believe he was dead, then they clung to the idea that his physical demise would open up a chance to rip pages over an already non-existent calender – a paradox that has been repeated a thousand times over. On the island, beyond his constant presence in the alleged news media, the constant call for an eternal Castro or being in command has been nothing but a corner trick, local celebration or schoolyard party.
In Cuba, different realms of power are still being combined, which are often confused and were kept united in the figures of Fidel and Raul Castro: the military, politics, ideology and public administration. After both brothers left the day-to-day management of state affairs – one because he was sick and dead, and the other because he officially gave up his duties but not informally – has divided this structure of command, but this hasn’t meant it has fractured or been torn apart, it has rather spread out.
Key immediate changes after the biological passing of both Castro brothers will be the continuation of this process already underway. Understanding this course of action will save confusion about their passing over power. In Cuba, there is no inheritance of power, like in North Korea, nor is there is a generational transfer of power that forgets its origins. The key here is understanding that a new model has been established for years already, that subordinates ideology, politics and public administration to business power, but only in Cuban terms.
Thus, once Raul Castro passes away, the miliary will continue to be at the heart of the equation, which has already become the main economic power.