Act One of the VI Cuban Communist Party Congress (CCP) is now over and the bizarre abounds.
First of all, it's important to note that this CCP had been more than two-years in the making. It was originally scheduled for 2009.
The official reason for its postponement was the "economic crisis."
But it was more likely tied to the regime's expectations that the U.S. Congress -- with a Democratic majority and President -- might have lifted trade, financing and tourism sanctions between 2008-2010.
Upon U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) taking the helm of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) becoming Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relation's Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, it was finally time to proceed with the CCP and look for other ways to address the dire economic and political situation facing the island -- for a U.S. bonanza and recognition were not coming any time soon.
(Well-intentioned opponents of U.S. policy should ponder on the economic windfall and legitimacy they would have provided the Castro regime if they had been successful).
So after a huge outdoor military parade -- in order to remind the Cuban people who's the boss -- Raul Castro took to the stage indoors and delivered four messages:
1. That it "might be advisable" to apply term limits to future senior regime officials.
This "do as I say, not as I do" approach would allow Raul to remain dictator until he's at least 90-years old or death (whichever comes first), while (of course) not impeding his family's power one iota.
Raul probably got this idea from similar recent announcements by his tyrannical brethren in North Africa and the Middle East, such as Syria's Bashar al-Assad, who are also looking for distractions to assuage popular discontent.
It's also meant to serve as talking points for the regime's apologists in the U.S. and Europe -- that Castro is undertaking "political reforms" (while arguably passing the laugh-test).
2. That none of the supposed "reforms" promised at the last CCP (in 1997) were implemented.
But that he's really, really sorry, and that this time it'll be different -- no, really.
3. That the Cuban people will remain without any ownership rights.
In other words, that the dictatorship will remain totalitarian.
For all of Raul Castro's "fiscal revelation" that 2+2=4, the CCP seems limited to cutting basic staples from the Cuban people -- e.g., ration cards, jobs -- but not giving the people any fundamental economic rights. Instead, the regime will continue leasing and licensing a limited number of crafts (like it did during the 1990s).
At best, this reflects a shift from slavery to feudalism.
4. That young people are not "properly prepared" to assume positions of power.
Ironically, Fidel Castro was 32 years-old when he became dictator, while Raul was 29-years old when he was appointed Minister of Defense.
Apparently, they can't seem to find young Cubans today as ruthless and tyrannical as in the old days.
Actually -- that might just be the best news to come out of the CCP.
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