One Hundred Days with Diaz-Canel as Our President

Miguel Diaz Canel on one of his tours around Havana. Photo:


We have to give this humdrum president credit though, he is keeping the only promise he made when he took on this position: that his government would be one of continuity.


By Repatriado

HAVANA TIMES — In the brief time Diaz-Canel has been president of Cuba, there have already been some important signs which tell us about how he is thinking of governing the country.

His absolute lack of personal charisma makes it impossible for him to be populist in a wordy way like Fidel or Chavez and thank God he has enough personal dignity not to try and become an embarrassing loud-mouth like Maduro or a new Christian/Communist in true Ortega-style.

However, he has tried to make up for this shortcoming with an energetic agenda of meetings which people might understand to be executive power and leadership, but unfortunately this kind of government (just as populist as his predecessor) ends up being an empty arrogant gesture that he gives his underlings in a paternalistic way.

One of the flaws of political and economic centralization is that the Head of State needs to know and be the best at everything, something which the late Fidel (the country’s leading engineer, doctor, bioengineer, athlete, farmer and astrologist) was well-known for.

We have seen Diaz-Canel giving such sublime guidance on the news like telling cattle breeders that they have to milk cows more to get more milk, telling drivers that they need to drive carefully and scientists that they need to be more intelligent, finishing each and every one of these theatrical meetings with words about the importance of producing more, modernizing the economy and controlling, controlling, controlling.

His closing speech at the recent Cuban Association of Journalists UPEC congress was a first-class rant of the most out-of-date Castrismo, stronghold of the most absolute tropical conservatism where the only change will be his upcoming Twitter account which has been announced for December (?).

There are still the same threatening calls for unity within the Revolution, any slight freedom of speech is blighted, tying journalist’s hands even tighter of whom he very insultingly said: they combine their state job with some dabbling in small unofficial digital media platforms “in order to earn a few dollars”, the new Ethics Code bans this activity, Cuban journalists are the Homeland’s soldiers, and “La patrie, c’est moi”.

With regard to the economy, granting licenses again in order to work in a few legal and private professions has been the most important thing. But, licenses will be handed out under an even stricter system, designed to stop anyone from prospering financially which would lead to the creation of a middle class. We will continue to be the country where the most power and wealth is concentrated in few hands, if we don’t include Kim’s Korea of course.

Referring back to the constitution that is currently being cooked up, they have already warned us that the Communist Party will remain the highest supreme power in society and the State, thereby excluding any window for the slightest bit of democratization. On the other hand, Marti’s legacy and the Marxist-Leninist doctrine “won’t be abandoned, not for an instant, which make up the main ideological foundation of our Revolution.”

So as to make sure nobody gets any funny ideas and thinks that holding citizenship from another country makes you any more safe and independent from the government, they have announced that the Constitution will stipulate that “Cuban citizens, in Cuba, will be governed by this condition and won’t be allowed to use their foreign citizenship”. It’s truly frightening…

His international outlook continues to be the same, standing alongside Cuba’s Latin American friends without criticism and without caring about how many citizens they are killing and moving towards Putin more and more, which they moved away from when they thought that Obama was going to open up the US market to them.

We have to give this humdrum president credit though, he is keeping the only promise he made when he took on this position: that his government would be one of continuity. Whether it’s because of a lack of political maneuverability, opportunism or personal weakness, any hopes for improvement for a people who desperately need a wake-up call has faded away like mist under the sun of facts. Diaz-Canel has proven that his bosses are mistaken about everything but holding onto power, even if that is indirectly so.

12 thoughts on “One Hundred Days with Diaz-Canel as Our President

  • The photograph of Diaz-Canel is interesting. For the regime of which he is the so-called “President” claims that only 9.9% of the Cuban population is black.

  • Your comments about the difficulties of being unable to afford house repairs, repair equipment or go on vacation, remind me Repatriado of a Cuban veterinary friend of mine. Following Raul Castro generously deciding that Cuban citizens would actually be allowed to stay in hotels in their own country, my friend and his wife went and stayed at an hotel in Varadero for four nights. Both particularly enjoyed mixing and talking with people from other countries, and my friend said:
    “It was the experience of a lifetime, but it cost us all our savings, we will never be able to do it again.”
    They do not have any relatives living in other countries and we seldom see a tourist in our town, so there is no opportunity to converse with people from other countries.

  • The difference between the viewpoints you express Repatriado and those of the Castro regime, is that you like Moses, Osmel and myself, believe that the main problem for Cubans is that they are denied any right to apply their talents and abilities for reward, whereas under Castro Stalinist communism the objective is to create a “mass” – the proletariat, to do as directed. There are those who suggest that in my case I am a “Conservative” or “Neo-Liberal”, but I agree with Moses who quite properly refers to the Democratic Socialist elected governments in Northern Europe in the post Second World War period. Those European countries which were denied freedom by the USSR and did not benefit from the Marshall Plan, were held under the Communist yoke until the implosion when the USSR rotted from within. But then given democratic opportunity, not one elected a communist government.
    The Castro regime doesn’t wish to recognize that Cubans are just as intelligent as those who live in the capitalist countries that practice democracy. They think of Cubans as if they are a flock of sheep, to be controlled and directed without questioning. But unlike the good shepherd, they care naught for the individual within the flock.

  • Following with drspock, yes, when a small country like Cuba deals with a giant like USA there is a risk of be mistreated because of the asymmetry of forces dealing, but I don´t see that as a moral issue because I don´t assume any morality in the behaviour among countries further than the pursue of their own interest, normally linked to the interest of the politicians, in a democratic country, hungry to show good short-term results in front of the voters, not because the politicians be pursuing the best for the people, I assume they pursue it to maintain the power and the prerogative they personally have.

    It did happened in the first 60 years of the Cuban republic when US influence was a mayor power inside our home politic, but in many ways that influence helped our own political and economic development, I put this very simple, compare Cuba 1898 and Cuba 1958, the positive difference was enormous, and of course there were a lot of injustices and situation that had to be changed, but we were going in that direction, in part against the Americans, in part thanks to the Americans.

    What you call our sovereignty is a false idea, there is no sovereignty inside an autocracy, what we have is a very small part, 0.000001 percent of our population that concentrate all powers and can decide Cuban foreign policy as well as Cuban home policy, and they always decide both policies depending on what is best for them as an elite, because differently to what happened in a more or less democratic country, they know their power do not lay in Cuban voters, the 99.99999% of the Cubans has nothing to do with sovereignty.

    So friend drspock, where do I have to surrender myself?

  • Carlyle I really like your deep knowing of Cubans, it has some merits coming from a parson with different language and culture, the most of the Spanish people I know, with whom we share idiom and lot of culture do not have your insight about us.

    To know unemployment in Cuba we have to start defining what is to be employed, if that is to have a position, relatively fix, with a time schedule, activities to do, and very important, in exchange of that position where you invest your time and labour you receive funds enough to live.

    How many Cubans find that in a job?

    My wife is a doctor, specialist, her salary is around 60 USD monthly, I work downloading and uploading trucks of construction material in a warehouse and I make nearly 170 monthly.

    Between both we almost quadruplicate what a normal couple have as income with an average salary of 30 USD, even so we have not easy to end every month, we can’t save any money to repair the house, go on vacations or to repair the TV or the refrigerator if they suffer a mayor brake, if that happened we have to run to ask help to our family abroad, something that is not very pleasant to do.

    So the most of the people that leave from a regular job having a regular income and not “special” as mine, are they really employee?

  • Hi Moses, I think your perspective is correct, and from my point of view, desirable, that is why I support people like Osmel Ramirez that published here in HT that calls himself a socialist, they will be the leaders we will need in this country.

    But as Osmel said once, Cuba can go from this stupid economic system to an absolutely liberal one, that is something should not happened because we will have not strong institutions to avoid the injustices of that liberalization, that is similar to what happened in Russia in the 90s.

    But, to distribute we need to create wealth, for that I count with many factor, the enormous capital in Cubans hands right now abroad, the close we are to the biggest market of the world, the many Cubans with Spanish passports that can move freely, our nature that is perfect for agriculture and it is crazy than we have to import vegetables or meats, the great amount of educated people created in this period, foreign inversion to develop a country with an destroyed infrastructure, that means we have to assume a lot of debts with IMF or any other.

    I also count with how use Cubans are to have “free” education and health and our high standard in biotech, great achievement done under the Castros, along with that homogeneous society you claim and I agree.

    To create there is only a way, liberalism.

    There are some great examples of countries we can study, Scandinavians social democracies in the 60 and 70, Chile and Spain democracy in the 80 after the dictators, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea from the 60 to the 90, Japan and Europe in general after WWII with the Marshal Plan, Israel and how they brought Jews fortune from all over the world, the German capitalism with all this imbrications between capitalists, the states and the workers inside the biggest companies.

    Those are some of the the good samples, no reason to mention the bad.

    Cubans have a great opportunity that is arriving to this zero pint situation in a moment where technologies develop is incredibly productive and allows that a country like us can be perfectly efficient and prosper as a service country based in education like Singapore, health care, Cuba can became the retreatment paradise for American and Canadians, there is a lot of money in that service industry.

  • An excellent response Repatriado to drspock. Only those who really know and understand the consequences upon even the processes of thought of sixty years of repression and indoctrination, can comprehend why it is that as you say: “There is no debate in Cuba about politics or economy”. Why would there be, because average Cubans are unable to have any influence upon either.
    As one who has the good fortune to meet quite a lot of Cuban youth, I can only reinforce your view that they express no hope other than to emigrate.
    Those who constantly prattle about the faults and errors of the capitalist system and in particular of that of the USA, are apparently unable to understand what repression does not only to the personality, but to the very soul.
    drspock writes critically of US unemployment, I wonder what his estimate of true unemployment in Cuba would be? I know that when I walk to our town centre through residential areas on any morning or afternoon of the “working week”, there are numerous able bodied men lolling around, playing dominoes or chess on every street. Would drspock describe a man who with a box on his pannier who goes to the panderia, purchases a couple of dozen 200 gm loaves of bread for 5 pesos each, then cycles around town selling them for 6 pesos each, as “employed”. Because you and I know that man “earns” more than the average – is he therefore gainfully employed? drspock demonstrates that the reality of Cuba is beyond the comprehension of many.

  • Cuba has all the markings to follow a Democratic Socialist model that worked fairly well in post-World War II northern Europe. A fairly homogeneous and nationalistic society. An excellent climate for agriculture. A well-educated and healthy work force. Finally, with the right prompting, I believe Cubans can become hard-working and productive. Evidence of this exists in the entrepreneurial community of Miami. I would like to read what Repatriado thinks about my comment given his desire for democracy, a other hallmark of northern European countries.

  • There is no a debate in Cuba about politics or economy, there are only complaints done in low voice and with fear, to call that a debate is to say to much.

    You have to understand that we as a people have being too long time doing as we have being talked, obeying, private initiative in Cuba was a sin for long time so the people is use to do whatever the government says.

    Young people hope isn´t to improve Cuba, but to emigrate anywhere.

    For me there is only one correct model, the democratic one, the implementation of that model has differents among the countries and the model is not a fix idea, it is a way to constant improvement.

    China, Vietnam, Russia ate not democratic places, I don’t want that way, USA is a democratic place, with flaws, but the system works and it is flexible enough to improve people life without to violate people rights, at least not too much, all governments are human rights violators per se.

    We need democracy in Cuba, which is first, we need real human rights and the capacity to choose real lieders. Is success secure in that path? Nop, but it is the only way to have a real chance to success.

    Cuba has many advantages and capacities to create a great place to live, are we going to be capable to do it? I don´t know, but again, we have to try because the system we have is dead, it is artificially sustain with Venezuela´s money and it will crack any moment.

  • What has the debate been among average Cubans over the economic future of the country? I know there have been reforms approved that are creating a private sector, but there seem to be many complaints about the restrictions on this new private property.

    The Chinese model seems beyond reach for Cuba. China accumulated enormous amounts of capital and then began a gradual shift from a Soviet, central planning model to its current capitalist model. Some in China argue that they went too far. For example, healthcare in China is a commodity and as expected, the wealthy get very good care while the workers often can’t afford to see a doctor.

    The Russian model has been a disaster. The US imposed “shock therapy” on Yeltsin’s Russia and after everyone was plunged into poverty the oligarchs plundered the country. Russia now has more billionaires than China, but most Russians are still in poverty.

    Then there’s the American model. All you have to do is surrender your sovereignty and have “free and fair” elections. Free and fair means that the US will decide who is or isn’t acceptable to run the country. If you choose the wrong leader you may end up like Ecuador or Venezuela who is on the US list as a Threat to national security. That means open to US subversion.

    But if you choose the right leaders you can follow the traditional Latin American economic model. The US will control the banks, currency, foreign exchange. They will orchestrate IMF and World Banks loans, well beyond Cuba’s ability to pay and only on the condition that the loans create capital projects that are run by American construction firms. So, while Cuba will get jobs, most of the money Cuba borrows will go back to the US as profit from these projects.

    I’m not suggesting that there is any easy way forward. The only country that has successfully resisted these economic pressures are small nations where the profits are too small for American finance to be concerned, or a large nation, like China that has enough economic power to chart its own path.

    Even for those of us in the US, the economic conditions are very uneven. The official unemployment rate is 4.2%. The real unemployment rate is around 12% and in some sectors, it’s closer to 20%.

    I’ve always been impressed with the degree to which the average Cuban is savvy about these political conditions. So what are people talking about under this new leadership and the new constitution?

  • don´t play poker with DC

    they know Cuba has a different culture to Vietnam or China, ones they change the economic model, they won´t control politics or power as they like to do.

  • I hope Repatriado that you are correct in describing Diaz-Canel as “humdrum”. I tend to think that your alternative phrase “It’s truly frightening…” is nearer the mark. All the work that Raul Castro having selected Diaz-Canel five years ago, into grooming him to continue his Stalinist policies is being rewarded. No chance of any weakening to allow a chink of capitalism as in Vietnam and China. No concern for improving the standard of living for Cubans. Just ever more of the lust for control.
    Diaz-Canel cannot even smile (say “cheese” Miguel) for the camera.

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