By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — It’s already a done deal: Miguel Mario Diaz Canel Bermudez is the new President of Cuba. Raul Castro kept his promise of leaving his position at the head of state and government this year. People speculated about many possible last-minute “surprises” which would remove the expected presidential candidate from the picture and even about Raul eventually recanting what he had said. But, that wasn’t the case.
At the closing ceremony of the National Assembly’s session on April 19th, Raul even announced that Diaz Canel will be the next Secretary-General of the Cuban Communist Party in 2021, when he leaves the position from Congress. The highest (living) leader of the Revolution’s historic generation ordered that succession be in the same way he and Diaz Canel have done so from now on, thereby concentrating all of the country’s power in one person alone.
With an added quirk, which Raul considered “strategic” and “stabilizing”: the new Head of State and Government will remain under his supervision for the first three years, until Diaz Canel also assumes leadership of the Party. That’s why Raul ordered to keep the timelines as they are, with a new Party president being selected at its next Congress.
This last point with regard to the Party, was what people were speculating about the most over recent months. And this has been a big surprise because lots of experts on Cuban affairs were assuring us that their strategy was to keep power in the Castro family’s hands. It was assumed, a given almost, that Raul was interested in leaving this position (which is the true center of power in Cuba’s authoritarian model) in the hands of his son Alejandro Castro Espin.
As a result, any shred of dynastic succession, in true North Korean style, has been completely ruled out. They are placing all of their trust in preparing and indoctrinating the new government, in their methods of political, economic, social and military control, in the general model designed to keep all of the strings in few hands. This is what they call “revolution” and they call their authoritarian, controlled and anti-democratic nature “unity”, which Raul considers both to be “our most beautiful work” and “our greatest strength”, respectively.
I have to admit that the authoritarian socialist system here in Cuba is well-designed, not to solve national problems, of course, but to survive itself, to keep itself afloat. Even when 90% of the governments worldwide disapprove of the Cuban system, which they consider to be an anti-democratic and a totalitarian dictatorship, they find themselves forced to recognize it for this reason or that, to have a good or acceptable relationship and to even support them in some instances.
And with regard to national politics, Fidel was a genius designing this political system where everything has been calculated so well. Like they themselves say, “unique in the world”. With such talent, if he had set out to create a democratic system, it would have been the best in the world, there’s no doubt about it.
However, maybe his ego, his distrust of the US or a combination of both of these factors, swayed his social creativity towards developing an authoritarian, state centralized, exclusive and manipulative regime, not focusing on popular sovereignty but on the privileges of the self-selected political elite and placing themselves even above every institution in the Constitution. This is what they call socialism, what a disgrace!