Global Independent Analytics

At Party Congress, No Sign Cuba Is Ready To Embrace The U.S.

Cuba's leadership won't change any time soon, nor will its political or economic plans for the future

Carrie Kahn for NPR reports: the four-day congress of the Cuban Communist Party that wrapped up late yesterday, does not have any intention to encompass the U.S. And apparently to emphasize that the old guard remains firmly in control, revolutionary leader Fidel Castro made a rare public appearance. Seated and wearing a bright blue athletic jacket, Castro spoke before more than a thousand Communist Party delegates. "Soon I will be 90 years old," he said, in what will in all likelihood be his last address to Cuba's once-every-five-year gathering of the party faithful. "Soon I'll be like all the others, everyone's turn must come," he added.

After Obama’s recent visit to the island, hopes have raised that economic reforms might be broadened and that key leadership positions will be delegated to a younger generation. However, some analysts say that the expectations might be crushed by a so-called ‘Obama effect’: the Cuban administration was disturbed by a welcoming manner Obama was greeted in during his historic visit to the island last month.

"And instead of opening in response to Obama's opening they seem to be doubling down on the kind of top-down control because they are fearful that this new dynamic with Obama is a Trojan horse," said Ted Henken, an expert on Cuba at New York's Baruch College.

Kahn continues: “Raúl Castro said as much during his opening remarks. He referred to the U.S. as the enemy, saying its methods may have changed, but its goal is still to rid Cuba of communism. Bruno Rodríguez, Cuba's foreign minister, turned the rhetoric up even higher, accusing Obama of launching an ideological attack on Cuba. An Obama administration official says he is not surprised by the harsh tone and that normalization of relations between the two countries will take time.”

 On the other hand, some say that there is no other way to Cuba but to attempt to modernize and evolve economically. “But the lack of concrete reforms to come out of the Congress is troubling for U.S. businesses wanting to get a foothold in Cuba, and for Cuba's nascent private sector, which now makes up a quarter of the workforce. The sector has hit its limit for growth and is increasingly frustrated and more vocal about total state control of the economy,” assumes Kahn.

Raul Castro is well aware of the discontent and pledged reforms are coming; although he did not elaborate on what they were or when they would happen.

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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