Thursday, February 01, 2007

Change or no change?

You know that old cliché about not being able to see the woods for the trees?

I sometimes wonder whether we spend so much time and effort examining in minute detail what is supposed to be going on in Cuba (from the outside) that we miss the bigger picture.

For instance, as far as I can see, there has been no fundamental political change on the island since Fidel Castro was forced to step aside due to serious illness mid last year.

Well, one thing has changed: ordinary Cubans are no longer forced to listen to the dictator’s interminable and increasingly incoherent harangues every second night on television.

Otherwise … situation normal?

A Reuters correspondent in Havana, Anthony Boadle, has written an interesting article about the changes he has perceived on the island over the past six months, under the headline, “Debate grows in Cuba six months after hand-over”.

It’s a fairly optimistic piece that hints at an increasing openness within sections of the regime – a kind of Cuban apertura.

To back up his theory, Boadle quotes dissidents and outside observers as well as Cubans whom understandably, declined to be identified.

Boadle also refers to “unprecedented” investigations that have appeared in the tightly controlled official media in the past few months uncovering poor service and highlighting a shortage of consumer goods and other “economic shortcomings”.

He also points to the current controversy among some intellectuals on the island over the apparent return to public life of the bureaucrat who was in charge of cultural policy during the 1970s, when hundreds of writers, movie-makers and academics were targeted as ideologically impure.

Now, this is all true. But from where I am, these do not seem to be major policy changes.

Instead, I see them as a clever if inevitably futile attempt by the regime to shift the focus away from the real story: the impending demise of the older Castro.

Then again, perhaps I am missing the bigger picture. Perhaps I am too close. Perhaps I can see the trees alright but beyond that … nada.

Photograph: Claudia Daut, Reuters


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortuneately , i believe there will be no change even when fidel and raul pass.. maybe a little opening up moving toward China model but that's as far as it will go in the next 10 years in my opinion.

WHy? my opinion is not to explain the "no change" thesis b/c of chavez or b/c of state control... the real reason is b/c from all my experiences in cuba, it unfortuneatley just seemed that the average cuban didn't want change (and i say that as a person who was not just sticking microphone in their face in public but through personal relations).. most just don't want change... i explained to them what a peaceful protest would do , but most don't seem interested.. they have all been socialized to hate US , especially to hate and fear Miami.. you can't just change this socialization process, which spans generations down there.. one cliche that highlights the problem: the cuban will tell you that they fear miami cubans more than the fidel. And they would prefer to live as they do than to open up to the "miami mafia". I do not agree with this statement at all, just reporting on the general and unfortuneate sentiment down there .. that's why, I dont think any big changes are coming for maybe a decade. sorry for my pessimism, that's just the way I see it from many real life experiences down there. (I am canadian).

2:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the embargo screwed up everything.

2:53 pm  

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