Twelve months later
The general tone of the stories that have been published or broadcast so far can be summarised as follows:
1. The soon-to-be 81 year old dictator is alive but still not well enough to make a public appearance. My take: Assuming Castro is indeed recovering, it’s the longest recovery one could possibly imagine, even for an elderly, semi-senile old codger.
2. No one knows whether the anointed successor, Raul Castro, is merely keeping the throne warm for his older brother – or gradually taking over control. The only plus: no more three and four hour long speeches about those evil Americans, the Empire, blah, blah, blah ...
3. The Cuban economy continues to be the same unmitigated mess it’s been for more than 45 years. What happened to all that propaganda about 12 per cent economic growth, petroleum exploration, Venezuelan aid, etc?
4. Living conditions on the island for ordinary Cubans (as opposed to the elite and foreign tourists), have barely improved since the end of the so-called Special Period. In some ways, living conditions have worsened for the poor and marginalised, given the shameful economic apartheid system introduced by the Castro brothers.
5. There is growing discontent about low wages, high prices, shocking public transport and huge inequalities among the general populace. But not, it seems, among those supposedly ordinary Cubans who get interviewed for publication by foreign correspondents.
6. An increasing number of Cubans – especially the young – want out. Sad but true.
7. But there no sign of popular unrest. Near impossible, given the tight control exercised by the regime, from the Stasi-like secret police to the fascist-inspired Rapid Response Brigades ..