Don’t hold your breath

by

He survived dozens of assassination attempts, the fall of the great Soviet ally, and fifty years of autocratic rule, despite a belligerent and very powerful neighbor 90 miles to the North. Yet we’re still dying to know: what’s going to happen to Cuba after Fidel? Everyone expects some radical change, whether a military state, a U.S. invasion, a violent internal uprising, democracy, mass exodus, or other. Something must happen. The floodgates must open.

Anticlimactic as it is, it’s time to accept reality; now is Cuba after Fidel, and now is how it’s going to be. On February 20th, Fidel officially resigned as President and passed power to Raul, who has been enacting very slow and incremental changes to open up the economy (a la China). More changes in agricultural liberalization are expected. These changes are positive and popular. Critical/dissenting voices are also being inked in Granma, the state newspaper, a strong signal from the state that more changes are to come and that it’s okay for Cubans to voice unhappiness with the status quo.

Fidel may have died today or he may die tomorrow or he may die in a year. Whatever the case, Cuban socialism has outlived his control. Raul has consolidated power peacefully. Cuba will change, but it will change slowly under socialism. This is positive for Cuba, although it’s not the sweeping change that some were hoping for.

The U.S. should recognize the historic opportunity, scrap our failed policy, and lift the embargo. Time to move forward.

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