Does Raul Castro Have a Viable Plan for Cuba?

By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez

Raul Castro. File Photo/cubadebate.cu

HAVANA TIMES — It has been very rare for any leader in any country in the world to be in power for such a long period of time, like Raul Castro has had, to try and convert their projects into reality. It’s been over a decade if we add the two years of his interim government (2006-2008); and we still haven’t even seen the tip of the “progress iceberg” in the never-ending ocean of Cuban poverty.

I have no doubt that he wanted to change the Cuban system so as to get a better socio-economic result. In that vein, he began an encouraging public debate, although it was far too controlled. Then came the Communist Party “Guidelines” stating that we should do what we’ve always been doing, but in different words so it would seem like something new. Later came the Conceptualization of the Cuban socialist model and the Development Plan through 2030.

Pages and pages, a lot of bla-bla-bla, and nothing substantial that shows that there will be any real change: not in mentality, or in the country’s institutions, or in the economy or in people’s rights.

Let’s use a part of Marxist jargon to analyze his management. In political matters, he hasn’t shown even the slightest interest in changing or rectifying the situation. And that’s where his great failure stems from, because he’s been denying Marxist dialectics and his own principles. The economy is the foundation of everything, but it’s also the cultural expression of social progress in the time we’re living.

Not even today’s historic moment is the same as that in 1959 and Cubans aren’t who they used to be either. By having an out-of-date approach to what our times dictate and by following the same ideas and methods of times long past, our leaders have shown that they are dogmatic and not dialectic; in other words, they don’t understand anything about our objective reality.

Peanut sellers. Photo: Juan Suarez

He pressed party cadres, at all levels, to change their mentality; and asked whoever didn’t feel like they could that they resign so as not to block the path towards change. He publicly said this on various occasions at different meetings. However, by not making changes in the system’s bureaucratic institutions or democratizing them or giving space to Cuba’s true agents of change (the pacific and democratic opposition, even within the socialist ideal itself) he effectively nipped his plan for change in the bud.

Fidel said it in his Concept of the Revolution, unfortunately as a side note: “sense of historic moment”; “change what needs to be changed.” These are the basic ingredients which Raul’s project and leadership as the head of the Cuban government for the last decade has been missing and the main cause for his failure. Incredibly enough it’s his own slogans, his own political propaganda: they are in his handbook but in practice the results are just not there.

The famous Guidelines, which are no longer even referred to, made it clear in its own name (“political, economic and social”) that they had been defaced, because they didn’t even include “politics”. And in this respect there is an unbreakable and irrefutable trinity between the economic-political-social which is connected and can’t be separated without committing Raul’s own mistake in wanting to transform dirt into gold.

If there are problems in the “economic-social” spheres then it’s impossible that “politics” are working well; it’s the complete opposite, it’s the manifestation that something essential is going extremely badly. And there isn’t a single point in the Guidelines or in the Conceptualization or in the Development Plan that recognizes the fact that the Cuban political system has some major flaws and doesn’t respond to the people’s needs and rights and is responsible for the country’s economic and social failure. Therefore, it is nothing more than “the same dog, even wearing the same collar,” just polished so that it gives the mistaken idea that it is something new and that it will work differently.

Tourism is up considerably in Cuba. Photo: Juan Suarez

The Plan for 2030 will not bear any fruits even in 2300 because nothing vital has been changed. It’s fine that they are investing in tourism, in a Free Zone like Mariel and in water works so as to push agricultural production. Of course these are great engines for economic progress! However, none of this will do a lot of good if the fierce and inviolable domestic blockade which represents the Cuban system remains in place: State-run, centralized, paralyzed and therefore unable to mobilize productive forces. As I’ve stressed in the very title of my article published here on Havana Times “The old Chevrolet needs to be urgently fixed”.

Raul’s development plan for Cuba is unviable and he doesn’t seem to realize it or at least lacks the modesty to recognize it. If Raul and his government were smart they would ask the peaceful opposition for help to encourage real change towards a more democratic system, without social turmoil: which keeps the revolution’s achievements and opens up the way to a new economic, political and social model, which Cuba desperately needs.

However his plan, while wanting to chase after progress and ensure the Cuban people’s wellbeing (why should we doubt that?), doesn’t put these at the very top of the agenda, like it should. Class interests come beforehand: of the privileged political elite, used to tyranny, authoritarianism, and that’s why they’re afraid of democracy.

It’s time now for the opposition to show and struggle for a “truly” alternative plan, which captivates and meets our suffering and fearful people’s expectations: the country is shouting out for this and I sincerely believe that this is the right time.


19 thoughts on “Does Raul Castro Have a Viable Plan for Cuba?

  • January 22, 2017 at 6:54 am
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    Your comment is charged with emotions but historically fact-free. Human beings want freedom. The US has been a beacon of freedom for the world. The US does not “rule” any other country. This is a blog about Cuba. You should not opine about personal needs. You are poorly qualified for that.

  • January 22, 2017 at 6:47 am
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    Cubans who escape Cuba for economic reasons do so because they lack the political resources to change their economic situation. Elsewhere, economic emigration is largely driven by the lack of economic or educational resources. That’s why wealthy doctors in Cuba leave and wealthy doctors in Nicaragua don’t.

  • January 21, 2017 at 5:48 pm
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    That, I’m afraid is exactly where you keep coming up WRONG.
    People go to where the opportunities are.
    People from the entirety of Latin America try to get to the USA.
    If you wish to pretend that this phenomena is for political reasons ( regarding Cuban migrants) rather than for economic reasons, then sorry, buddy……
    You are ideologically blindfolded.

  • January 21, 2017 at 5:37 pm
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    No. You can’t accept it can you?
    You simply cannot appreciate the fact that some places on this earth wish to get away from US rule.
    You should have a real good think about it.
    Instead of this lame and banal good vs bad guy worldview that you have managed to aquire……
    It might do you good, on a personal level, to have a real good old think about it….?

  • January 21, 2017 at 10:23 am
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    The Castros could solve the emigration problem quickly. Give Cubans more reasons to stay in Cuba than exist reasons to leave Cuba. But we both know that to do so would undermine Castro power. So, emigration will continue.

  • January 21, 2017 at 4:48 am
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    And by the way.
    Independence and emigration are 2 different things.
    You wouldn’t be deflecting would you?
    Do you have a problem accepting that other countries wish to have independence from your country?

    Of course there was massive migration into the USA in the era you mention.
    Big country. Land of opportunity.
    People from all over impoverished and war ravaged parts of Europe looking for a fresh start.
    People from poorer parts of the world try to get to richer parts of the world.
    Been happening since the stone age.
    No mysteries there. Nothing specific to Cuba there.
    The only thing exceptional regarding Cuban migration is the US policy:
    Cuban? Yes welcome to the USA!
    Haitian? No room for you here.
    No political points to be scored from letting you in.
    Get back in the water fella!!
    Same sh*t, different regulations.
    Until President Obama changed it round last week.
    Decent man. Hugely respected in Cuba.

  • January 21, 2017 at 4:48 am
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    Change for the good is welcome. Trump’s racist, misogynistic, isolationist rhetoric points toward change in the other direction.

  • January 21, 2017 at 4:45 am
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    Exactly. Cubans, like Americans before them, just wanted more freedom and better opportunities. In the early years of the US, it was “Go west young man, go west”. In 2017 Cuba, it’s “Go north….”

  • January 20, 2017 at 7:37 pm
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    That good ol’ promised land huh?
    Maybe Cuba just needs one of them goldrushes you folks had over there back in the day!!

  • January 20, 2017 at 6:45 am
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    Only time will tell what kind of Presidency Trump will have. The people of the USA have spoken. Now you can sabotage the change in Washington’s political atmosphere, or do your part to make the new government succeed.

  • January 19, 2017 at 7:29 pm
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    Here’s the difference: During the 1830’s in the US, roughly 60 years after our revolution, there was no record level of outmigration of Americans rushing to leave the US by any means necessary. Very different sh*t.

  • January 19, 2017 at 3:50 pm
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    I am afraid your comment makes no sense.
    It is 58 years old.
    And for all its faults, it has achieved independence from the USA.
    I think that’s perhaps the bit you don’t get??
    In 1776 the people of the (soon to be) USA needed to get their independence from the British.
    In 1959 Cuba needed to get it’s independence from the USA.
    Same sh*t, different century.

  • January 18, 2017 at 9:51 pm
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    The Cuban revolution died a long time ago.

  • January 18, 2017 at 2:04 pm
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    I would suggest that on this earth, rights are perhaps neither given nor denied by God!
    The U.S. Revolution is 241 years old this year is it not?
    The Cuban Revolution is a mere 58 years old.
    Both of these revolutions started off with very worthy intentions but have thus far achieved mixed and imperfect outcomes.
    I truly hope that once it reaches the grand old age of 241, The Cuban Revolution will never experience the trip to the gutter that the USA is heading for in two days time.
    I would also hope that the decent people of The USA, which I firmly believe to be a majority, assert their rights to speak and and express themselves (as you put it) and bring down this foul and joke Putin puppet.
    I would hope that one way another, this levelling occurs before you get to the the 255th anniversary the USA’s (mostly) worthy Revolution.
    And I’m certainly not talking about assassination.
    As a dear friend of mine said the other day, they only assassinate the good ones.

  • January 17, 2017 at 1:44 pm
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    In answer to the question in the title of this article:

    No.

  • January 17, 2017 at 9:24 am
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    The author is right: Raul’s plan won’t bring a better life for Cubans. At the same time wanting to hold on to total control and get investment without legal, financial, ….. guarantees is impossible.
    Exclusion of the Cuban people and distributing benefits to the elite only is also a recipe for disaster especially as the “pressure valve” of the “wet foot dry foot” policy has ended. The regime needs to change “in depth”. that means political and economic changes. The elite’s plan for a controlled moved from state capitalism to oligarchic capitalism is doomed to fail without a massive increase in repression. That may wake up the “dormant volcano” the Cuban people is. I fear more “maleconazos” and deaths.

  • January 17, 2017 at 5:02 am
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    The tragedy of Donald Trump being elected to the White House will never justify the tragedy of 58 years of Castro tyranny. There are very few “absolutes” in life. However, one of them is the freedom to speak and express yourself. Another is the freedom to associate with people of like mind. While these absolutes may be threatened in the US by Trump, they do not exist in Cuba. It has always been up to the “generation of Cubans coming into their maturity” to lead the charge in Cuba. For 58 years the Castros have denied that generation their God-given right to do so. So far nothing has changed. Why do you think things are different now?

  • January 16, 2017 at 8:59 pm
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    Some progress has been made, too much fear of change has prolonged the failed system.

  • January 16, 2017 at 4:37 pm
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    One might as well ask: “Does Donald Trump have a viable plan for America?” In Cuba’s case, Raul doesn’t. Still, “Plan 2030” sounds a lot more viable than Trumps plan to “Make America Great Again!” (which sounds like a return to the 1950’s, when the Evil Empire was at its height…a height to which it never again shall return!) It will be up to the generation of Cubans now coming into their maturity to come up with a plan which will work in Cuba, and I believe they will. (What is it? Stay tuned!) .

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