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27/04/2011 | Raúl emerges weakened from party congress

Carlos Alberto Montaner

To handpick always generates enemies. All those who are deliberately excluded automatically become critics and adversaries of the enthroned leader.

 

Until now, provisionality generated around Raúl a tense, quiet calm, as if in a suspense film. We saw the denouement, so the time has come for the bitter judgments.

What is now said in the corridors of power is that Raúl is a mediocre fellow surrounded by mediocre army officers, that he doesn’t know where he’s headed. What follows are some of the comments being made in undertones by the Cubans.

Fidel has officially withdrawn from power, forever. That was presumed, but now all doubts have been dispelled. That always carries weight in a strongman dictatorship. There were many people who were loyal to Fidel, not to the Revolution or his brother. Fidel’s departure has a political cost.

In the five years Raúl has acted as a substitute, since summer of 2006, he has not been capable of creating a mechanism to transfer authority to a new generation. The average age of the members of the Politburo that emerged from the latest Communist Party Congress is 69. The general-president himself is about to turn 80, but, if he dies, his replacement, José Ramón Machado Ventura, is 82. The greatest danger facing the ruling circle is not yankee imperialism but an enlarged prostate.

They’ll try to alleviate the disasters of collectivism, without renouncing that monstrosity, with a few measures taken from capitalism. However, they propose something unprecedented: a communist dictatorship without subsidies, mitigated by a capitalism without a market — fitting a round peg into a square hole. That won’t work.

The predominant feature of the new Central Committee are the generals attuned to Raúl. Although the regime disguises itself as a communist government, it is in fact a military dictatorship with dynastic elements underlined by nepotism. The new Central Committee includes two of Raúl’s sons-in-law. Not present, however, is another son, Alejandro Castro Espín, a colonel in the Interior Ministry and an extraordinarily powerful person who keeps the ruling circle in check with his constant audits, aided by Gladys Bejerano, the comptroller general.

Raúl has permanently purged the ruling circle of old cadres, some of them notorious Fidelistas: Carlos Lage, Felipe Pérez Roque, Yadira García, Marta Lomas, Juan Contino, Fidel Figueroa, Gen. Rogelio Acevedo, Gen. Pascual Rodríguez Braza, Pedro Sáez, Jorge Luis Sierra. (In one of those vendettas, Chilean businessman Max Marambio fell in the crossfire.)

The exclusion of Culture Minister Abel Prieto from the Politburo and the Central Committee is further proof of the accuracy of Stalinist gunfire. Along with Eusebio Leal, Prieto was the regime’s most humane face.

Raúl sacrificed him because he won’t permit the slightest independence of opinion in the small world of intellectuals. (The source who tells me this adds a sly comment, typical of writers: “The bad news is that Abel is now threatening to return to literature.”)

Raúl hasn’t the slightest intention of opening the political game field or respecting human rights. On the contrary, in his speech he ratified the old repressive strategy of acts of repudiation against the opposition democrats. He’s not going to imprison them for long periods. He’s going to beat them to a pulp until they either desist or hide.

It is not true that Raúl emerges strengthened from the Sixth Congress. The well-choreographed moves keep us from seeing the truth. The hierarchy in charge of the productive apparatus hates him. They’re bothered by the fact that he chose to monitor the managers instead of stimulating the creation of goods and services.

They say Raúl is more interested in surveillance and control than in production. The old displaced Fidelistas don’t like him. The young communist reformers who wanted to participate in a real debate about the nation’s problems feel cheated.

Instead of discussing the changes with them, he has reaffirmed the oldest guard to replace the leading cadres, without consultation and without any arguments other than his testicular will.

In sum: Raúl ends the Sixth Congress with a higher number of enemies and a lot fewer hopes. Generally speaking, ruling is a thankless job.

Miami Herald (Estados Unidos)

 


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