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March 10, 2008
Cuba's Post-Castro RevolutionaryTransition
Fidel Castro's decision to officially relinquish his elected post as presidentof Cuba once again defied the conventional, but stagnant "wisdom" of U.S.pundits and many Liberal, Right, and Left ideologues and politicians alike.
Dogmatic allegiance to anti-Communist Cold War canards accounts for his Miami-based critics, the U.S. government, and major news outlets being uninformed, asusual, about what's happening in the socialist republic of Cuba. And unreflective,often dogmatic, ideological precepts have left many supporters of the Cubanrevolution out of touch with the revolution's self-diagnosed ailments andprescriptions.Widespread debates and frank recommendations have emerged within the Cubangovernment and Cuban society over the past year since Fidel's originally temporarysuccessor, now newly elected Cuban President, Raul Castro, called for more criticalreflection and recommendations to improve the quality of government and thequality of life in the not-so-vibrant Cuban revolution.Changes among political representatives elected by local communities, open verbaland written criticisms about past errors in governance, over-reliance on the SovietCommunist experience, criticism of transportation woes, food shortages, low salaries,racial discrimination, homophobia, and even criticism of aspects of the vauntedhealth care system are easily found among the 60-plus on-line magazines, parastatalpublications, and official speeches from leading government and Communist Partyofficials inside Cuba.
Shortly after assuming the post as acting president, Raul Castro told a group of students that they should be "fearless" in speaking up. And to his compatriots ingovernance, he asserted: "the person who plays the role of director needs to knowhow to listen and create the atmosphere so that people can express themselves withtotal freedom."How to unleash the gains of the revolution, and how to give the highly educatedCuban people greater opportunities is a recurring question throughout this newperiod of debate and policy recommendations.Younger Cubans, including Communist Party members, avidly advocate for amodernization of the Cuban Revolution. In fact, in the discourse between Cubancitizens and Cuban political officials you see such terms as "participatory democracy"and public criticism of the lack of opportunity for the well-educated citizenry toimprove their lives and advance the principles and the goals of the revolution. To thesurprise many, and perhaps to the dismay of hard-line anti-Castro Cuban Americansand many mainstream Republicans and Democrats, Cubans -- yes Cubans insideCuba -- have recently employed the expression "transition" to mark the depth andbreadth of their desire and intent to renovate their socialist experiment, which manythere openly describe as outdated, with contemporary needs and possibilities.