The Reign of Raul "the Reformer"

Sunday, July 26, 2009
Whatever happened to Raul "the Reformer"?

Whatever happened to the China model and the economic reforms that Cuba "experts" swore Raul Castro was committed to?

Since Fidel's illness was publicly announced in August 2006, news article after news article reported -- and pundit after pundit argued -- that Raul would soon be opening up the island's economy. No one seems to know how this rumor about Raul's psyche got started, but the rumor morphed into perception, perception became "fact," and "fact" is now exaggeration.

So much so, that an outspoken advocate of normalizing relations with the Castro regime even dubbed Raul, "the Cuban Margaret Thatcher."

Yesterday, Raul had another chance to brandish his hyped reformist credentials during the most important public speech of the year for the Castro brothers (the anniversary of the July 26th, 1953 attack on the Moncada military barracks).

Instead, Raul declared:

"To have more, we have to begin by producing more, with a sense of rationality and efficiency, so that we may reduce imports, especially of food products -- that may be grown here -- whose domestic production is still a long way away from meeting the needs of the population. We face the imperative of making our land produce more; and the land is there to be tilted either with tractors or with oxen, as it was done before the tractor existed."

At best, this means a rural version of the regressive "import substitution" model adopted by the right-wing military dictatorships of Brazil and Argentina during the 1960's and 1970's, and at worst, it means a return to the subsistence farming of the Middle Ages.

Same policies, different Castro.