Yes, the Castros can be pressured
Yes, the Castros can be pressured
ROBERTO ÁLVAREZ QUIÑONES | La Habana | 3 Mayo 2016 – 8:39 am.
The Castro brothers’ caving in and allowing Cuban-Americans to travel to
Cuba aboard Carnival cruise ships revealed that they are vulnerable.
Despite their efforts to conceal it, it is clear that they can be
Now it is time to demand an end to the outrageous requirement that
Cubans have a visa to visit their own country, while those who have US
citizenship can travel with their US passports, as the socialist
constitution’s Article 32 actually prohibits dual citizenship.
The acquiescence to the Cuban exile community in the case of Carnival
would have been unthinkable back in the days when Moscow was subsidizing
Cuba with billions of dollars a year, or during the boom days of
chavismoin Venezuela, when oil prices were sky high and the Castros were
receiving some 36 million barrels of oil and billions of dollars in
But the Chaves-sponsored boon is over, and in Latin America changes are
underway that have begun to erode that scenario of plenty and to
aggravate the regime’s financial situation every day, already calamitous
due to its unworkable socio-economic system.
It is true that the reason for the Castros’ consent had to do with the
fact that Cuba does not have enough hotel capacity to accommodate the
flood of tourists reaching the island every day, and the Government did
not want to lose out on the money provide by a floating hotel in Havana Bay.
In addition, there is the devastating crisis in Venezuela, the
increasingly likely fall of the professor of Marxism and former pro-Che
activist Dilma Rousseff as the president of Brazil, and the rise to
power in Argentina of Mauricio Macri, marking the end of the Kirchner
era and a turning point, spelling the decline of leftist populism,
dominant in Latin America since the beginning of the century, and a
possible return to liberal democracy.
It should also be added that Evo Morales lost his referendum and may not
be reelected in Bolivia, and Peru’s next president will not be a
leftist, as neither of the two candidates on the ballot for the second
round of elections there on 5 June are of this ideology.
The man from Havana, in danger
Nicolás Maduro actually lived in Cuba in the 80s and studied at the
Communist Party’s Ñico López Advanced School in Havana. There he was
recruited by the Castros’ intelligence division and began working for
the Departamento América, headed up by Commander Manuel Pineiro (aka
Barbarossa, or Red Beard), a coordinator of leftist terrorist groups in
Latin America, many of them trained in Cuba. That is, Maduro had
stronger personal ties to the Castroist cadre than Hugo Chávez. That’s
why they requested that Maduro succeed him.
Well, apparently Maduro’s days at Miraflores are numbered. And, whoever
replaces him, he won’t grovel to the Cuban dictatorship like Nicolás did
– even if he is a Cháves disciple. Given the appalling crisis Venezuela
is suffering, the subsidies for Cuba are bound to decrease, or even
disappear, if the devotees of the late Chaves lose power. With these
ominous signs on the horizon, and it being clear that neither Russia,
China, Brazil or any other country is going to replace Caracas as a
patron of the Castros, they need the United States.
If the Venezuelan and Brazilian subsidies (in Brazil there are thousands
of Cuban doctors, the regime retaining 70% of their salaries) abate or
disappear, the Island’s economy will depend on its northern neighbor;
that is, on remittances and packages, and Cuban and American tourism,
the only thing that can really grow, and quickly, if the embargo is
ended, which would also allow Cuba to obtain international loans, and
trade with the US.
But with all the bravado in the US Congress, it is unlikely that there
will be enough votes to lift the embargo. And there’s the rub: the
insolent rhetoric of Raúl and Fidel Castro, and the entire ruling elite
at the recent VII Congress of the Communist Party lacks any economic or
political foundation – much less a moral one.
Such posturing is really just for domestic consumption. The Castros
should be pressured for them to tone it down. Sooner or later they will
have to do, and at least to recognize the basic rights of their people,
and lift existing prohibitions against self-employed and ordinary Cubans.
More vulnerable than ever
The Castros are losing, or about to lose, the political and economic
protection provided them for decades by external subsidies and their
collusion with populist Latin American governments. Never before they
have they been so vulnerable.
This is something that the White House must now realize. With both
commanders in power there will be no structural reforms in Cuba, but
they are fragile. And Obama made all the unilateral concessions he could
do as US president to placate Havana. Therefore, his administration
should change course with its accommodating policies, based on turning
the other cheek.
Castro’s return to his orthodox Stalinist rhetoric also shows something
that the White House and the State Department have failed to realize:
the tactic of embracing the Castros, to infect them with democracy, is
It is true that Obama’s visit to the Island frightened the dictatorial
leadership, as it showed Cubans how their dictatorship pales in
comparison to a modern Western democracy. But we have already seen their
reaction: an attempt to erase the “counterrevolutionary” effects of that
visit, to the point of paralyzing the process for the normalization of
This largely spoiled the legacy the American leader wished to leave, as
a normalizer of relations with Cuba. It is one thing to have
re-established diplomatic relations – like there were with the Soviet
Union for almost 60 years – and quite another is a return to relations
without political tension and pugnacious speeches against the United
States. This has not been achieved.
“…or the game is over.”
The good intentions and optimism of Obama, the Democrats, and American
businessmen, their desire to forget the past and focus on the future of
bilateral relations, for the benefit of the Cuban people, clash with the
retrograde nature of the Castroist hierarchy, only interested in staying
in power. The welfare of Cubans has never been a priority for the
But that same civil-military elite is obliged to reach agreements with
Washington in order to continue governing. It’s a question of life or
death. Of course, the regime still has enough strength left to control
and repress the Cuban people. And that should also be the focus of both
international and internal pressure.
The members of the Cuban diaspora, by demanding their right to travel to
the island by sea, also demonstrated their strength, when properly
channeled. This, and the increasing and admirable struggle of dissidents
and political opponents, constitute a formidable weapon. The able
coordination of joint efforts by these three factors could yield
additional victories against Raúl Castro and his military junta. In the
past this was not a possibility, but today it is.
And the White House should tell them, once and for all: “Move … or the
game is over.”
Source: Yes, the Castros can be pressured | Diario de Cuba –