The Russian Reconquest of Cuba: What We’re Not Seeing

Cuban president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. (Archive/Kremlin)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo, Quito, 3 June 2023 — After twenty long intergovernmental sessions between Cuba and Russia and a visit of moral support by Díaz-Canel to the butcher of Ukraine — the warrior Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin — the Havana regime opened its arms to the proposals and pressures of the Russian oligarchy. Cuba is going through the greatest economic, political and social crisis in its recent history, and for the Kremlin’s vultures it is low-hanging fruit. The conditions ceased to be mere points of negotiation to become a “take it or leave it.”

What is Russia looking for in Cuba by gaining land in usufruct for more than 30 years? This is the question that the official media makes us ask, when, without a doubt, it is the least important element in the geopolitical move that the weak Cuban regime is making.

Let’s pay attention. Russia is a country of 17 million square kilometers (6,563,737 sq. miles), while Cuba does not exceed 11,000 (4,247 sq. miles). The small Caribbean island fits 1,545 times into the territory of the Russian Federation.

One might think that fertile Cuban lands are an appetizing prize for Russian farmers and Siberian businessmen tired of snow and frozen furrows, but such ideas would be typical of an irrational villager.

The most fertile lands on the earth’s surface are called chernozem, and they are only found on 7% of the planet, and of that amount 74% are in Russia. To be clear, Cuba would fit 23 times into the highly fertile territory of Russia, and we are not even talking about the other arable lands of the largest country in the world. A small detail: Cuba doesn’t have a single square meter of chernozem. continue reading

It is evident that it is not the “privileged” lands of Cuba that convened the eleventh business meeting between the Russian oligarchs and the worn-out Cuban leadership. The words of Boris Titov, the most visible face of the Russian right-wing billionaires and businessman close to the Castro regime, should serve as an alert for us to understand what is coming.

As “Comrade” Titov said at the inauguration of the XI Meeting of the Business Committee: “There is a whole set of proposals for Russian businessmen, such as the usufruct of land for more than 30 years. The elimination of tariffs for the import of high-tech products and the guaranteed right to be able to send the earnings and profits obtained in business to Russia (…). Currently, the Government of the Republic of Cuba guarantees that this process will be done in a short time with privileges for Russian businessmen.”

These words may seem innocuous, but it is necessary to translate Russian intentions into neighborhood Spanish. Titov is the main teacher of the political guidelines (requirements) of the Russian oligarchs to the Cuban regime. The so-called “roadmap” between Moscow and Havana are commandments to move forward with investments. The official document is preserved under some secrecy, as usual, but official publications of the Putin Government already allude to it, using that name.

From what has been published by Russian media, it is understood that the lands in usufruct are nothing more than the elimination of land leases for Russian agricultural and technology companies. Even the Americans were not so evicted with the Treaty of the Lease of Naval Bases and Coalfields. The “imperium” always paid rent. But the Russians will take the land for their companies and businesses without paying, and they will enjoy privileges that have not been given to any Cuban company that doesn’t have a direct association with the military entrepreneurship of the Castro regime.

Russians will be able to bring in technology for their businesses without paying the tariffs that Cubans have to pay even for basic necessities. They are guaranteed that they will not be disturbed at the Customs of the Republic of Cuba, while the citizens of the Island do not have that security.

The most scandalous of the privileges is that “the elimination of tariffs for the import of high-tech products is guaranteed, as is the right to be able to send to Russia the earnings and profits obtained in business,” according to Titov. If it were another country that spoke of free-form capital outflow, the Havana regime and its press would shout that they are profiteers and vultures.

It is natural that Russia’s “vulture” investments arrive at this time with guarantees of return to the accounts of the oligarchs outside Cuba. Russians can be whatever they want, but fools they have never been. Cuba is a country in political and social crisis, lacking leadership, and a hotbed of silent conflicts between the military, select cadres of the Communist Party and those close to power. In an increasingly unstable country it is mandatory to have a capital escape route that does not collide with bureaucratic obstacles and lack of legal guarantees.

The Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitri Chernishenko, said during the meeting in Havana: “The Governments of Russia and Cuba are working on the creation of beneficial conditions for business. That means the elimination of bureaucratic barriers, the reduction of taxes and tariffs and the development of banking infrastructure to guarantee uninterrupted service.”

There are many optimists on social networks who see in this move the salvation of the dictatorship and the rebound of the Cuban domestic economy. The big question they should ask themselves is in what currency they plan to use to pay the Russians for the agricultural and technological products they will develop in Cuba. Do you really believe that the Russian ultra-capitalist millionaires led by Titov want to accumulate pesos?

Cuban emigration has decimated the Cuban population in the last decade. Estimates indicate that more than 2.3 million Cubans live in the United States. The northern neighbor is the largest source of remittances for Cuba. If the Russians take charge, they will try to monopolize the turbulent foreign exchange market of the Island and fill their pockets while they can.

In these circumstances, Fidel comes to mind, when he was questioned by a journalist at the inauguration of one of those first hotels for foreigners which denied access to Cubans. “If these mixed hotels were to charge in pesos, the hotel would not be built here. Because even the capitalists would not come to invest; it they wouldn’t really be interested in accumulating pesos.” Then he continued with his diatribe about the American blockade, in the same style as the current Díaz-Canel discourse.

Cuba is a long loop of repetitions of history. Memories of past failures come and go. The owners of Cuba’s destiny are not the Russian oligarchs, nor the pink cadres of the Communist Party, nor the old military, nor the last-minute screamers. This prolonged and unpleasant novel will culminate when the Cuban people do what they have to do.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Team Asere Does Not Belong to the Dictatorship, It Belongs to the Cuban People

Yariel Rodriguez during this Wednesday’s game with Australia, in which Cuba managed to qualify for the quarterfinals in the World Classic. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo, Quito, 16 March 2023 — I once heard an influencer, whose name I don’t want to remember, say that the “Cuban opposition was facing a scientific regime using improvisation.” This idea may have arisen creatively and spontaneously or come from the argument of Gene Sharp [an American political scientist]: “The idea that improvisation will give you great success is absurd; it’s exactly the opposite. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll most likely get into serious trouble.”

This is the story of the Cuban opposition’s wild goose chase, always unscientific, far from the clear minds that make it up. There is so little of our awareness of real power that we end up acting without the nobility of victors. This visceral and predictable form of the brothers in opposition to the dictatorship is our Achilles’ heel, because the Regime, scientific, methodical and equipped with propaganda resources, comes, punctures us and already knows what leg we are going to limp on.

The ball is round and comes in a square box, and so is the world, full of supposed contradictions and logical solutions. But if you don’t stop to observe with Buddhist discipline the real problems that happen in front of your nose, they will continue to fuck you ad infinitum. You may not see it yet, but the decrepit Regime and Díaz-Canel passed you a cat for a hare.

The Cuban government is in a clear crisis of prestige, with its symbols and slogans crumbling. The opposition, by chance or persistence, has managed to impose new stories, raised new flags and imprinted new slogans and goals on the Cuban mentality. For the Regime, seeing its ideological edifice built with Soviet cement fall must not be a good sign. They may be singaos [motherfuckers], but they are not fools. So they have given themselves the task of fabricating new victories and feeling renewed pride, flavored with the Cuban Communist Party (PCC). continue reading

The World Classic was the best place to have this little cultural battle. They send the Asere Team with the “mission” of bringing victory to Cuba, “the victim of the blockade,” to the “oppressed people” who made an unforgivable socialist revolution just 90 miles from the largest empire… Well, you know how the propaganda goes. They do it, in addition, knowing how we will act in the face of such a provocation. We will take improvisation out of our pockets and begin to form campaigns without sustenance or empathetic content, to boycott underpaid players who, as history has shown, take advantage of these contests to negotiate the contract-signing of their lives that will take them forever out of that hell in which they live.

Without the slightest attachment to the bases of propaganda, without understanding that marketing, whether commercial or political, seeks to empathize, attract, fall in love with and engage the receiver, we lend ourselves to the Cuban Communist Party’s game. Divide and win, they poisoned the team with Díaz-Canel’s outstretched hand and made the great debate begin of whether or not it was ethical to bite the hand of the “communist stepmother.”

We accept the facts that the official narrative presents to us. We don’t try for a moment an elastic withdrawal and counterattack strategy. We entrench ourselves in the predictable discourse and begin to act on impulse. We start the smear campaigns of a ball team, of people who suffer from inflation like anyone else, who have cousins or acquaintances imprisoned for the demonstrations on July 11, 2021 [11J], Cubans like many others, closer to us than to them, and we made them the embodiment of evil.

Yulieski Gurriel receiving an award from Fidel Castro in 2006. (Granma)

In this propaganda distraction we were not creative. I think it might be better to give them support, to rob from them the idea that the team is the property of the dictatorship. We could forgive them for any statement. In the end, thousands of Cubans have had to support the Regime circumstantially, while they prepare their getaway. It would be more stoic to reaffirm that sport belongs to the Cuban people and that no sectarian party could abolish that. Aren’t there photos of Yulieski Gurriel receiving awards from Fidel Castro? Isn’t the Gurriel family now a symbol of free and prosperous Cubans in the United States? Aren’t thousands of Cubans going to applaud him and take pictures with him?

We have time to receive Team Asere in style in Miami, the land of free Cubans, the home of the Cuban family. The Cuban team that presents itself in South Florida is always a Home Club. If we were an intelligent opposition, we would fill the stadium with the flags of Cuba, of the United States, with Patria y Vida [Homeland and Life] posters. We would bring shouts of victory and support, so that they feel at home. It is very likely that they will move here soon. I would like to see how the fuck they are going to broadcast on Cuban television a stadium full of happy Cubans, anti-communists and baseball players to the core, supporting the Cuban team and shouting “freedom”! That’s what it’s all about, that’s how you play with science.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The Myth of Cuba’s Education System

When UNESCO speaks of the high level of education in Cuba, it refers to it as “free,”,. but that does not mean the Cuban system educates its new generations well. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo, Quito, 16 January 2022–Determining the quality of the education system in Cuba is a task filled with pitfalls and endless assumptions as it is impossible to access verifiable macro data. So much secrecy incites even more suspicion.

In the Latin American and Caribbean region, we know that the countries with the best educational outcomes are Chile — paradoxically, a window into reviled neoliberalism — followed by Uruguay, Costa Rica and Mexico, according to the list created by PISA testing (Program for International Student Assessment), which measures the application of acquired knowledge in daily life after the completion of mandatory education. Cuba does not appear in the data, for one simple reason: it does not participate in the measurement.

In 2013, the tough nucleus of “21st-century socialism”, Cuba, Bolivia, and Venezuela, refused to participate in these evaluations. For the governments of these countries, education was considered a strength of the social processes they developed and they preferred their “achievements” not to be questioned.

Without access to government information and refusing to provide data to international organizations, one must ask from where the idea came that Cuba is the point of reference for the best education system in the region. continue reading

The United Nations itself is responsible for presenting the Cuban system as the paradigm, but if one reads between the lines, the indicators highlighted by UNICEF are not reliable evidence of the quality of education.

When UNESCO speaks of the high level of education in Cuba it refers to it as free, but the absence of a cost does not mean the Cuban system educates its new generations well.

While in Latin American countries textbooks are updated, on average, every five years, in the case of Cuban textbooks, from physics to Spanish and literature, these were last updated between 1989 and 1990, with the objective of eliminating Soviet propaganda and strengthening the unique social nature of the Cuban revolution.

Indoctrination in textbooks from preschool through the last year of high school is the only thing that has not varied in Cuba in the last three decades. This can be corroborated by reviewing the Cuban Ministry of Education’s books which have been digitized.

When a rigorous measure of poverty is applied to Latin American education systems and the real impact of the lack of family resources has on the quality of education is understood, one forgets that Cuba transitioned from ranking as the 23rd economy globally, in 1958, to compete with Haiti on poverty indicators since the 1990s when the USSR collapsed.

Cuban civil society estimates that 51% of the population currently lives in poverty and rural and suburban areas are in extreme poverty. The minimum monthly salary is 19 USD, according to the real value of this hard currency on the black market. The annual income per capita for Cubans is 300 USD, similar to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a country where the average family income is so low and access to protein has been difficult since 1990, what can be said about the nutrition students need to face classes in the morning and complete their homework in the afternoon.

Despite the palpable reality in classrooms, UNICEF and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) accept, without questioning, uncorroborated data from the Cuban government about “nonexistent child undernutrition” in Cuba. These types of approaches generate more questions about the role international organizations play in the country.

The starting monthly salary for Cuban teachers is 4,825 pesos (70 USD). To support themselves in the midst of runaway inflation, teachers take on extra work as tutors, for which they charge 100 pesos per session (less than 1.50 USD). Receiving tutoring is not an option for all students, the family’s ability to pay determines who has a greater chance to achieve the best test scores and subsequently secure a university spot in their desired career field. Evidence that the “free” system for all is just a cover for the surreptitious social Darwinism of the system.

The idea we have in Latin America of an average quality education includes the use of the internet and information technologies. In Cuba, this vision is limited to learning the parts of a computer and mediocre use of Microsoft’s Office package. Social access to the internet was approved in the country in 2013 and its use as a resource for research and classwork is a dream which still has not arrived, in accordance with the state policy of maintaining a traditionalist system of education.

The layout of classrooms, the forms of organization, the methodologies, and the promotion of innovation are static and eminently theoretical; in practice, the changes in the last 40 years are barely perceptible. Among the transformations that require a meritorious mention is the implementation of inclusive education policies, which integrated special needs students who formerly were destined for special schools. The first students to be integrated with average students were children and adolescents from reform schools, where they were marginalized as juvenile delinquents until 2003, when they were assigned to regular schools.

Despite these changes, teacher training has had to deal with massive desertion, constant migratory crises, and demotivation as a result of the lack of financial incentives and the declining social recognition of teachers, who are viewed as the spokesmen and spokeswomen of a totalitarian regime and responsible for decades of indoctrination.

Faced with this crisis, in 2000 Fidel Castro opened Emerging Teacher Training Schools, which as their name suggests, train teachers in an accelerated manner. At first, teachers were expected be ready to go to the classroom in six months, later it was after a year. This fix reduced the prominence of university education for teachers and spread the learning weaknesses of these adolescents-turned-teachers.

The dictator’s direct intervention in public education policies resulted in the systematic destruction of the management structure in schools. It reached the point of assuming that a secondary school teacher could teach physics, mathematics, literature, chemistry, and art under the assumption that if “Aristotle could teach his disciples several sciences, integrated general teachers (PGI) could as well.” In the end, the PGI were unable to offer a deep knowledge in anything, though they were required to talk about everything.

Twenty years after the “Emergent Training” disaster, 70% of the teachers in the country at all levels of Cuba’s education system are the result of poor training. When we pay attention to academic training and teaching practices, that should be an indicator when determining the quality of the education provided in Cuba.

Putting these data in the context of the Cuban reality, we should reconsider whether its education model should be the paradigm for Latin America. How many of us would be willing to guarantee free education accessible to all at the expense of our individual liberties? How many parents would choose an ideological education with explicit indoctrination? How many teachers would prefer an education model that is static, traditionalist, in addition to being the lowest paid in the western hemisphere? Some stories are poorly told.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuban Adjustment Act or Upheaval Act / 14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo

Cubans demonstrating against the US embassy in Quito, Ecuador. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo, Quito, 14 December 2016 — I wake up and I see a report on the arrival of a group rafters on the coast of Miami. I’m surprised by the open declaration of one of them, who confesses having left Cuba in search of a better future, but says he has nothing against Fidel Castro. His words set me to meditating.

The Cuban Adjustment Act is a good deed on the way to hell. Thousands of Cubans arrive in the United States every year to take advantage of its benefits. Its repeal is a taboo subject among the exile and the emigration. Those who say they are in favor of its elimination or reform from abroad, receive avalanches of criticism and support, demonstrating the division of opinions about it. continue reading

The government of the island ascribes to the Cuban Adjustment Act the main reason for the exodus, dismissing internal conditions and policies that cause people to leave, this being a long-time strategy of the regime: Someone else is always to blame.

Authorized voices within the Cuban-American political establishment, such as Senator Marco Rubio, call for a revision of the Cuban Adjustment Act on the basis that not all Cubans arriving in the United States and claiming refuge under it meet the conditions to apply for asylum, and many of them demonstrate their political apathy by returning to the island as soon as they obtain a US residence permit, discrediting their supposed condition as a politically persecuted person.

Since the beginning of the most recent migration crisis in November of 2015, the division among Cubans stranded in Costa Rica and Panama is evident.

One group reaffirms, recklessly and motivated by an ignorance of the nature of the Adjustment Act, that they are economic migrants, which strengthens the arguments of the regime about the causes of illegal immigration.

Others, however, say that they left Cuba because of its repressive policies, lack of political and economic freedoms, and the impoverishment of the country, something imposed by an internal blockade that has plunged the Cuban people into despair.

Both sides agree that this mass escape was motivated by the fear of political transformations that would be generated by the “thaw,” leaving them inside a nation that sees no long-term changes in the relationship between the government and the people.

It is legitimate to question whether the Cuban Adjustment Act should continue under the current terms. The receiving government spends an annual average of 500 million dollars in aid to the “Cuban refugees.” Some estimates indicate that, from 2014 to late 2016, the United States has allocated 1.5 billion dollars for monetary aid for the first six months, food stamps for three months which are renewable for longer, health insurance for ten months for adults and more health insurance assistance for children, as well as supplementary services for the elderly.

Does every Cuban deserve such kindness? The final saga of the migratory crisis, which has had its most recent and dire chapter in Ecuador, demonstrated that some members of the regime are parasites benefitting from the Cuban Adjustment Act. They waste no time in leaving behind the claws of the tiger, and brazenly appear among the voices clamoring for an airlift to continue their journey to the United States, while in Cuba they were persecutors of the Ladies in White, Cuban counterintelligence officials, members of the National Assembly of People’s Power, and militant communist/opportunists who, tired of the perks of the regime, head north to take advantage of other perks in “la Yuma” – the United States. Many of them, who denied there was a political motive to this breakout, are now in the United States enjoying government help.

Another group, misunderstood and attacked, launched itself in courageous though reckless protest against the Cuban embassy in Quito, showing the political nature of the exodus and starring in one of the never before seen historic feats of the emigration. Unfortunately, it is an event little spoken of. Many of the protesters were deported to Cuba. Another group of people and protagonists of the protest camp in Quito’s Arbolito Park are already in the United States, justifying with their actions and political stance that they deserve the benefits of the Cuban Adjustment Act.

I support reform of the terms of the Cuban Adjustment Act. It is not fair that the American taxpayers’ money goes into the hands of those who enjoyed communism and now want to enjoy capitalism without deserving to. It is not fair that economic emigrants and future speculators head back to the island with their recently obtained residence permits, trampling on the spirit that gave rise to the law. Those who are unscrupulous and reject with their behavior – far from that of the politically persecuted – the refuge offered to them, should have their status reassessed.

I do not live in the United States and I have not benefited from the Cuban Adjustment Act, nor do I consider myself politically persecuted, despite my actions and opinions, but I condemn those who mock the law and discredit the support and sustenance that the United States government has offered to our people in the hard years of the exodus, which sadly does not end.

Losing Fear To Get Freedom / 14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo

In Venezuela the opposition is aware of its strength and its leaders show their faces in demonstrations against the regime. (@liliantintori)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo, Quito, 10 December 2016 — On the 58th anniversary of the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista, the seizure of power by Fidel Castro and the disappearance of the national hope of a return to the constitutional values ​​of 1940, the people of Cuba, their emigration and the “historic exile” continue to ask the same rhetorical question: When will we be free?

Before the Obama administration’s rapprochement, the island’s regime raised the alarms of the possible perpetuation of the current state of affairs. Opposition groups have concentrated their intellectual efforts on delegitimizing the actions of the United States government and few have concerned themselves with analyzing the new opportunities for action that it presents. They demand that Washington return to the politics of confrontation of the last 50 years, a return to a Cold War based on ideological footholds or real threats to the stability of the United States that no longer exist. Times have changed, the world is not the same, this is a fact.

Although US President Barack Obama broke the taboo by stepping foot in Havana and shaking General Raul Castro’s hand, and despite the ongoing conversations, the situation in Cuban continues more or less the same. The defenders of the regime point to the deep popular roots of the “Revolution”; the defenders of Obama’s policies blame the opposition’s inability to articulate a plan to destabilize the regime or to win popular support; the detractors of the US administration, coincidentally the traditional opposition the Cuban regime, both on the same side but for opposite reasons, argue that rapprochement is useless. For officialdom it is a maneuver to hide mixed objectives, for the regime’s opponents it is a maneuver to strengthen the regime and betray democratic aspirations, etc.

But what are the real reasons that social unrest does not happen in Cuba? continue reading

In the current Cuban conflict four elements are involved. We must assume that there are four important figures, three national and one external. The national figures are the government and its repressive structures (“mass organization” in the official jargon), opposition groups inside and outside the country and, most importantly, the ordinary people (workers, students, housewives, technicians, doctors etc.), mostly discontented but with high levels of political apathy. The external element is the US government and its policies toward the island.

Where is the project?

The traditional, dispersed and divided opposition base their positions on the flagrant violations of human rights. The main flag of dozens of opposition groups is the establishment of democracy and free elections, a cause undoubtedly just but one that does not offer a intelligible plan to the Cuban masses who want a change in their pocketbooks and in their kitchens. The objectives of the struggle seem futile to a needy majority that depends on the ration book and the tiny wages, the lowest salaries in the Western hemisphere. The opposition discourse forgets to speak out about the pressing needs of the population. What does the ordinary Cuban want to hear? Do they want to hear about democracy? Are the interests of the opposition the same as those of the common people?


The opposition leadership is a burning issue. Some avoid talking about it so that they are not accused of “pandering to the regime” and end up being called “G2 agents,” that is in the pocket of State Security. New times need ethical leadership, a leadership immune to the caudillos, one that can articulate the ideas and diverse projects in the current collage of opposition factions.

We have a common rosary of ex-prisoners turned into patriotic opponents, people who love to get checks and their phones recharged, opposition caricatures who don’t act if the interests of their fiefdom or their personal opinions are not affected. A leadership that doesn’t skimp on launching insults to devalue their adversaries, in the seeking of remittances from abroad. A kind of political flip-floppers that end up smearing the work of ethically firm and committed opponents. One wonders which they benefit more, the democratic cause, or the regime’s discourse. They should aspire to a prepared leadership, trained in theory and practice. Leaders, not supervisors, are what the cause needs.

Civil disobedience?

The Gene Sharp Academy has become famous among opponents. It is common to hear the term as if it were a hidden card, a weapon per se. Civil disobedience is a process that starts from a common idea, a shared desire by the majority who attempt to act together from the first moment in the simple refusal to be a part of what they don’t agree with

The mistake is to call the masses to participate in marches and strikes when they have not first been called to abandon the repressive structures of the regime. It is joining together in civil disobedience when fear is lost and this is discovered when realizing there are many who are willing to be punished.

A simple act of civil disobedience is putting a ribbon on the door or a sticker in the window. It is not about a march like that of September 1st in Venezuela if people haven’t already identified with the opposition project.

“The suspicion syndrome”

The fear of being marked by the regime is one of the reasons for political apathy. The vast majority of Cubans talk quietly at home, criticizing the barbarity and arbitrariness of the government. People avoid talking about it more at work saying: “You don’t know who’s who.” The fear of being put on the blacklist makes people prefer to remain outside any political debate and simply repeat the regime’s propaganda or join its repressive organizations (mass organizations) “so as not to stand out.” Opportunism and amorality have become an instinct for self-preservation.

End of the charismatic government

Fidel Castro met his end. The charismatic leader, bearer of all truth, was a decrepit old man. Although some, glued to the criticism of his image and legacy, still blame him for everything as if he still ruled, the reality is that nature, the only effective opponent of the regime, has removed Fidel Castro.

Fidel’s hypnotic personality was the cornerstone of the Cuban government. The interfamily transfer of power left a vacuum that we ignore. Raul Castro, the elderly general, is a person with little facility with words, jovial among his people but lacking charisma, incoherent, a faint shadow of what was the sex-symbol image of the Commander in Chief in his younger days.

Obama’s visit unveiled a Raul Castro without arguments, disoriented, his voice shrill and disagreeable, reflecting what was left of the “historic leadership of the Revolution.” The dictatorship has lost its charisma and its essence becomes more evident.

Possibility of dialog

The Cuban opposition currently does not have the power or the popular support to force a dialog with the government. Some passionate but hardly pragmatic leaders refuse, as an exercise in bravado, to accept a possible future dialog with the regime. Dialog is desirable, it can be a way to negotiate agreements and to obtain a share of power when the conditions for it are created. But, being realists, the opposition in Cuba had done very little to obtain the elements of pressure.

Obama policy and “normalization”

“Normalization” took the opposition by surprise. Something cooking behind the scenes until we all got a whiff of it. President Obama, ending his term in office, launched an adventure toward an uncertain future. Like it or not there are now fluid diplomatic relations between both countries. The screws have been loosened on the restrictions of the embargo-blockade, a policy that has been voted against for two decades by the majority of the countries that make up the United Nations General Assembly. Keeping it was illogical and trying this new path is the only reasonable option.

The disappearance of tensions and the eventual end of the embargo will put an end to the concept of the imperialist enemy and mark the end of political ideological work. The regime is left without the excuse of considering itself the hero of the “plaza under siege.” The blame cannot eternally fall on the United States: there are no reasons for the scarcities, the corruption, the persecution of entrepreneurs, the imposed lack of connection to the internet, the lack of freedom of expression and the violations of human rights. Will the opposition adapt to the new rules of the game and abandon its tantrums?


A social explosion will not occur in Cuba as long as a separation of immediate interests between the population and the opposition persists. People must lose their fear and become aware that most Cubans want an immediate change in relations with the state. An ethical renewal of the opposition is essential, as is the meeting at an intermediate point that permits unifying the idea of change for Cuba on the basis of a viable project to undermine the foundations of a regime that has lost its charismatic leader. Articulating a project for a future Republic that does not start from antiquated rhetoric about obsolete economic projects and licenses to kill.

A social explosion will come only when the majority of the population identifies the single culprit responsible for their ills, for which the distractions and excuses must disappear. We must put an end to the idea of the “imperialist enemy.” It requires a committed opposition that takes advantage of the new conditions and doesn’t lend itself to the improbable activities of those who have settled into a way of life guaranteed by dissent.

The freedom of Cuba does not depend on the United States, it depends on our own efforts. As long as we don’t understand our own responsibility, we will not achieve the changes we aspire to.