Graduate student Daniel Pedreira recently penned an interesting piece on Cuba, Cuba’s Prospects for a Military Oligarchy (embedded below). If you’re interested in Cuba transition matters, it is a great read. Pedreira makes several conclusions including:
- Raúl Castro’s initial openings of the Cuban economy are only cosmetic
- The Cuban government will continue to carry out measures to give the appearance of market reforms and political openness.
- Cuban oligarchs will prevent Cuba’s aspiring entrepreneurs from competing politically and economically.
The Cuban oligarchs have been hard at work to spread what I have through the years called, Castro Cuba Incorporated. Castro Cuba Incorporated is a spider web of businesses, based mostly in South Florida, that have ties the Cuban regime. It’s purpose? Find legal ways to abuse loopholes in U.S. laws to send money to Cuba.
Under U.S. law, the regime has a roadmap of things it must do to secure the significant easing of U.S. sanctions. It has stubbornly refused to do any of it so it does the next best thing, abuse U.S. law to get what it needs. It would be much easier if it implemented reforms; however, after close to six decades of Communism, they know not what they do.
Most who follow this issue have come to accept that it may be best to allow hardliners in Havana to pass on. They have no interest in reforming; although this may not be true for the entire military and communist party apparatus. Yet, as Pedreira points out in his piece, there will likely be a new set of business leaders coming right from the Castro wing of the military. Will they be has dogmatic as the Castro brothers? We can hope not, but hope is never a good approach to national security matters.
This new crowd is clever. They want to cling to power and the reforms, as Daniel points out, are just for cosmetic reasons. The reforms are meant to fool Washington, DC policymakers to ease economic sanctions.
For those of you wondering if U.S. policy will change anytime soon, don’t bet on it. Cuba is a low priority issue for the United States. Technically, the United States will be unable to recognize a transition government in Cuba until Fidel and Raul Castro our completely out of the picture (See Sec. 205(a)(7) of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996). But that is only really part of the story and one that I will attempt to share with readers throughout this year.
Successive Democratic and Republican Presidents (including Obama) have ignored the Cuba issue and, as a result, the Cuban military has become Cuba’s next best “hope” for a transition to democratic rule … and that cannot be good. A more concerted and serious effort is needed to make sure, as best the U.S. can, a peaceful transition to something in Cuba besides corrupt military and communist party oligarchs.