Must-Read: Antonio Rodiles on Cuba Sanctions

Monday, March 11, 2013
By young Cuban intellectual and pro-democracy leader, Antonio Rodiles (founder of the Estado de Sats civil society project):

For the Cuban government, the need for a Plan B is urgent, and all eyes immediately turn to the United States.

The Cuban Government’s Plan B

The Cuban government would need, at the very least, a relaxation of economic sanctions. Only now is the government aware of the magnitude of the mistake it made in imprisoning Alan Gross. The release of the contractor would send the worst possible message to all Cuban secret agents, but would at least guarantee the start of a more fluid process of exchanges, with the final objective of relaxing the embargo. Everything seems to indicate that the old tantrums don’t have the same impact.

Within Cuba, great expectations created by Raul Castro are fading and the government needs to take steps so that Cubans can breathe a little more freedom. Relaxing the controls of the iron-fisted travel and migration policy, in hopes of easing the growing shortages suffered by Cubans, is one of the more “audacious” steps taken by the totalitarians.

The naming of new figures to fill the senior government posts occurred within this scenario. Esteban Lazo, named president of the National Assembly, symbolizes everything about the system that is old and unworkable. He will take the reins of an assembly that has never had a divided vote, not even on the very trivial issues which they discuss. Lazo represents a retaining wall to block any initiative that might arise or come to this governing body.

Substituting Miguel Diaz-Canel for José Ramón Machado Ventura – as first vice president, and presumptive heir – is an attempt to provide a needed succession. Diaz-Canel, younger, obedient, non-charismatic, lacking his own popularity, got the call. A person who will depend entirely on the willing consent of a military apparatus that has strengthened its influence in recent years, indicating that this is the social design intended to be perpetuated. I do not think that these designations generate new dynamics. The elite only intends for these people to execute the plan designed to their and their heirs’ specifications.

The opposition, then, begins to play an interesting role. The collaboration among different groups is ever more articulated. Work in recent months has been woven around the campaign “For Another Cuba,” which demands the ratification and implementation of the United Nations covenants on human rights as a road map for a process of transition, thus signalling that it is possible, here and now, to find a viable path. Civil society is prepared to take bolder steps and we hope this will be the case for all actors.

What can we expect in the short and medium term?

The Government will continue to assign key positions to its most reliable cadres, people who will guarantee that “neo-Castroism” is set in stone. They will also gather a set of bodies who will be allowed to show a certain “renewed” face to the world, and so try to relaunch and normalize their international relations.

This new design requires an economy that can afford it, this is the critical point: How can a completely disjointed and broken economy be made viable? This can be achieved only with an injection of capital, an injection that today could come only from our northern neighbor. Nobody wants to invest in a country that doesn’t pay its debts.

The U.S. embargo and the European Community Common Position are key pieces in this political chess game. If the government receives an infusion of resources in the current, unchanged, situation, it would enable it to keep its hyperatrophied repressive apparatus intact and we could say goodbye to our democratic dreams for the next 20 to 30 years. When I hear several pro-democracy actors advocate for the immediate and unconditional end to the embargo, I perceive a lack foresight with regards to the possible political scenarios. Are they unaware of previous experiences in other regions? Are they unaware of the famous phrase, “economic opening with political opening”? Is the massive debt we have already left to our children and grandchildren not enough?

If the democratic community signals the totalitarian government that ratification and implementation of the fundamental rights set out in the UN Covenants is the only path to a solution to the Cuban dilemma, and if it conditions any measure relaxing the economic sanctions to the fulfillment of those international agreements, it will not take long for us to see results.

The Cuban government has not been and is not reckless, still less so in the current context. It is illogical that the elite would want to pass on a time bomb to their family and close associates. The opposition, for its part, in its vast majority, is promoting peaceful change.  Changes that transition us to a true democracy with the full and absolute respect of individual liberties, and not the typical totalitarian monstrosity of failed nations. A monster that in the medium term, totally secure, would be burdened with more corruption, more insecurity and more social conflicts.

It is extremely understandable that the Cuban people desire the opportunity to live in peace, to be prosperous, to enjoy their families and their land. We need to leave behind this whole nightmare of warnings of combat, wars of the entire people, territorial militias, socialism or death, and impregnable bastions. We need to overcome crazy ideas like the Havana cordons, microjet bananas, “open airwaves,” battles of ideas, guidelines, and this string of stupidities and mediocrities. Things that have plunged us into this disaster which today we all, absolutely all of us, have the inescapable obligation to overcome. We urge another Cuba.

Read the whole analysis here.

Courtesy of Translating Cuba.