Cuba’s Raul Castro announced this weekend that he was going to retire … in five years. He can always change his mind and likely will. Castro also promised term limits and promoted younger folks to senior positions in Cuba’s only political entity, the Communist Party of Cuba. This was nothing more that a political sideshow in an ongoing struggle by the Party to gain access to the U.S. market.
I was asked by a McClatchy news reporter what I thought of all this. It was about a ten-minute discussion. And anyone who has ever talked to reporters knows well that you never know what they will publish, if anything. “It’s political kabuki and I’m not sure it can hold together for another five years,” said Jason Poblete, a Cuban-American attorney in Washington and an outspoken critic of the Castro regime,” was what they eventually ran with. I was being generous.
Much like the Theresienstadt Ghetto was used by the Nazi’s to try and fool the international Red Cross that there was no such thing as concentration camps, Cuban regime officials are master deceivers. They want to world to think that things are changing in Cuba for the better. The thing is that these people have been deceiving the world and its own people since 1959.
Much like a political kabuki or Potemkin village, this weekend Communist Party meeting to handpick leaders was no different. The Cuban Communist Party has no interest in moderating or allowing political plurality. It has no interest in the world finding out the truth. While Party apparatchiks were preaching freedom and democracy behind closed doors, the equivalent of Nazi brown shirts prowled Cuba’s streets suppressing dissent.
Try as they might there is no salvaging the Cuban socialist system. They have been in survival mode for quite some time. Everything that the Cuban Communist Party does is designed to extend and solidify power bases for folks loyal to the Castro brothers. It has nothing to do with democracy or rule of law. The Cuban Communist Party deliberately does things in the hopes that Uncle Sam will ease economic sanctions. Why? Because Castro Brothers Inc. needs the money. A lot of it. Anyone who does not see that is either wearing political blinders or supports the current system.
You may be asking yourself, why is my tone so harsh?
Through the years, since about 1959, the Cuban Communist Party seems to get a free pass, all the time, about what really has happened on that island. The United States is painted out to be the bad guy in all this. We even have Members of Congress go to Cuba, as recently as last week, saying on Cuban soil that we need to moderate our policy. That is too bad.
There are people in Cuba’s growing dissident and opposition movement that could really use our help. And I would also bet there were people inside that Communist Party meeting, and in other parts of the government, who disagree with the regime. These are Cuba’s future. Not the Castro brothers or those that ardently support them. We need to focus more on these people and less on the regime and its facilitators.