More of the same?
Reformist? More of the same? Full of contradictions?
Some media outlets and not a few Cuban "experts" seem to think there is a hint of reform in some of the comments made by the man supposedly in charge.
Certainly, his call for more foreign investment is newsworthy, if only because it sounds suspiciously like the type of comment made by the Chinese communist leadership 15 years ago – before the Chinese unleashed their own version of capitalism.
Then there is the “olive branch” the (slightly) younger Castro has offered the Americans.
Of course, it’s neither an olive branch in the true sense of the term nor new.
In fact, the Castro brothers have been offering such olive branches to Washington for the past 30 years, knowing full well that they will be rejected by the US because of the pre-conditions placed by Havana, namely that the regime is untouchable.
No matter – the Castro brothers know the public relations value of such a charade: extensive and unquestioning media coverage outside Cuba, as you can read here and here and here and ...
As I said, nothing new there.
Raul Castro also used his relatively brief speech (only one hour!) to confirm what Cubans have known for decades: there are huge productivity and distribution problems across all industries and sectors of the economy and across all provinces.
He even went as far as admitting that the “numerous problems” faced by ordinary Cubans - such as low wages, high prices, crumbling houses, non-existent public transport – may require "structural changes".
Sadly, he did not elaborate, except to say that regardless, there was no way the regime would change its Socialist spots.
Still, like his ailing brother, Raul Castro knows exactly who is to blame for all these problems.
No, it’s not the outdated and unworkable Communist economic model that has been ditched by almost everyone else in the world, including the Chinese. And it’s certainly not the regime’s fault, let alone the fault of its top leadership, which has only been in power for what, half a century?
No, Raul Castro believes the ones to blame once again, are those lazy, greedy, ungrateful, undisciplined Cubans who like spending money and who just refuse to work harder.