Cuba Begins 2023 without Festivities and with a Dismal Address from President Diaz-Canel Regarding the Future

Miguel Díaz-Canel during his message to welcome 2023.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, January 2, 2022–The pandemic left some good news: the time for grand acts to commemorate January 1st has passed. In Santiago de Cuba, white flowers were laid at the monolith which protects Fidel Castro’s ashes by members of the Armed Forces and leaders of the province’s Communist Party were the only sign marking the 64th anniversary of the Revolution’s triumph.

There was little to celebrate and that was not only apparent in the lack of festivities, reduced to such a degree that even the traditional and grand fireworks launched from La Cabaña in Havana to welcome the new year were reduced to a few cannon shots, but also in the end-of-year message shared via the official Presidential channels and the regime’s press.

Miguel Díaz-Canel tried to offer a discourse far removed from the traditional esthetic, but the form could not rescue a bottom as pessimistic as a black hole. The president broke with the usual format, the written messages published on the cover of the State newspaper Granma, which for decades Fidel Castro gave, and in the years that followed his brother and successor Raúl had progressively  since current leader took charge.

Ahead of this, Díaz-Canel had used social media and later a message read in front of the camera from his office and under the watchful eye of a photo (behind him) of the leader of the Revolution. But this year he went further with the video shared on December 31.

With the realization that the cover pages underscored the leaders personalism, Díaz-Canel addressed Cubans in a message of barely one minute and 36 seconds from the Plaza de la Revolución and with piano music in the background, to assure that, if 2022 was bad, 2023 could be worse.

The leader dressed for the occasion in a black T-shirt, jeans and a white sport coat, visually distancing himself from the military uniforms that characterized the acts of celebration and also distancing himself from his own message of last year, when he used a classic blue suit and a light blue shirt.

Some close ups of his hands, holding a tablet as a nod to modernity, of Díaz-Canel — in heavy make up — staring off into the distance, talking with an official journalist and sitting on a tall bench at the base of monument to José Martí before launching into his lugubrious message.

“As we open the door to 2023 we feel deeply the force of the historic legacy that pushes us toward the new year without fear and without doubts but always conscious that it could be even more difficult.”

In the line of his recent address before the Council of Ministers, the president repeats that all of a population’s hopes are based on its efforts. “We are summoned by the certainty that the creativity of our people is infinite and that we did not get here by going backwards, we got here by rising. All that we resisted and created in the most defying year is proof that yes we can. Once and again we can.”

After insisting that we need to put “passion” and “will to continue conquering the impossible”, the leader called on the “sacred duty” and the “hope” to fact a new year in which, from the start, is down a quarter of a million citizens who have fled the country in search of a better life in the U.S.

In his words, there only seem to be a certain respite for party sympathizers — “The doors of that most defying year, and therefore most attractive to all who feel themselves revolutionaries” — but there is an abyss with those of last year, when we dreamed of a 2022 of recovery and, who knows, relief from the embargo, despite having said that there was nothing to suggest that.

“I would like to send a hug to all, inviting you to embark together on the path of the New Year, with optimism and cheer,” he said last year, when he asked for renewed efforts of all Cubans. “Let’s make the impossible possible,” he said before mentioning Raúl Castro and, “Toward victory, always,” from which he sought to distance himself this year.

The first year welcomed by Díaz-Canel as leader was welcomed with, “The year 2019 will be a year of rejoicing, pride, commitment and to keep doing for Cuba.” Accepting that 2023 is not as promising is the first step toward recognizing another failure in the coming months.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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