OLD AND NEW LOOK THE SAME IN CUBA
WASHINGTON -- While the rest of the world seems rent by violence and
"breaking news," obstreperous little Cuba has seemed unusually quiet
these last few years.
True, every once in a while the voice of Cuban Presidente Raul Castro
cuts dramatically through the miasmic tropical haze, as it did last year
when he announced that 500,000 state workers (of 11 million Cubans)
would be laid off and moved over into more-or-less free-market jobs.
But when a list of the jobs available for these workers came out months
later, it was close to laughable -- only the lowest or most
inconsequential jobs were included in this vast employees' "revolution."
And this year Raul indefinitely delayed even that change.
So, where IS Cuba today? Is it possible that after 52 years of rule by
the Castro brothers, the beautiful, but impoverished island has changed?
My FIRM and unalterable analysis is that it is beginning to change ...
but maybe not.
Someday, some good writer will pen the fascinating story, not of Cuba,
but of the two brothers Castro -- Fidel and Raul -- and how their lives
and interaction with each other have changed the history of Cuba. And it
may not be the story that many expect.
The government-approved story of this weekend in Havana, for instance,
seemed to be all Raul's. As formal president of the country, and as
fighter jets stormed above him, he used the opening of the Sixth
Communist Party Congress to announce a whole battery of changes:
Politicians would be limited to two five-year terms, not, as under
communism, terms of "forever." Monthly ration books would be eliminated
because of a belated realization: "No country or person can spend more
than they have. Two plus two is four. Never five, much less six or
seven, as we have sometimes pretended." Over 180,000 licenses would be
granted for small businesses (but not for the first time).