Cuba, Ten Years From Now, What Will It Be? / Iván García

“How much longer?”

In 2022, Fidel Castro will be 96. His brother Raul, 91. If God still hasn’t come to collect them, it’s likely they’ll be two demented old people in the care of a gang of military nurses who every now and then will change their diapers and give them spoons of jam and baby food.

Castro I could still be writing some somber Reflection about the end of the human race. But that date, his collected works would be in the final niches. The commander would rest in a magnificent tomb in Santiago de Cuba or in the Sierra Maestra. The General would be buried on Holguin or on the Second Front. The best sculptors of the island would have designed an impressive mausoleum that would provide a pilgrimage site for the revolutionary world tourists.

It’s not clear to me how long the national mourning would extend on the death of Fidel Castro. Fifteen days, a month… They would open a book of condolences at the base of the Jose Marti Monument in the Plaza of the Revolution. A lot of Cubans believe that Fidel would be embalmed. Raul no, he’s more ordinary.

But what we can all agree on and take for certain is that within ten years, whether the brothers from Biran are still alive or already resting in peace in their eastern tombs, the future of Cuba will still be an unknown.

There are four possible scenarios. The children of Castro II, Mariela, Alejandro, or the son-in-law Lopez Callejas, will consolidate their power. They will expand economic reforms. They will permit businesses of Cubans living in the United States. They will tear down the absurd immigration laws. They will legalize opposition parties previously colonized or penetrated by the special services. They will sign an agreement with the United States to fight international drug trafficking and terrorism. And they will extend the migratory agreement of 1994, to prevent Cubans from illegally leaving their country.

It would be a good move. But the powerful Cuban-American lobby would not swallow this pill of Castro-Regime-Light, and the U.S. Government would continue to maintain the economic and financial embargo.

Let’s move to another scenario. Olive-green entrepreneurs might seek a deal with the politicians to the north and make a deal for democracy half-measures. For the “politically correct.” They would respect human rights and authorize all political parties in exchange for control of power and the repeal of the embargo.

U.S. analysts and political pragmatists would welcome it, knowing that a week government could provoke a huge wave of immigrants. And without a strongman, Cuba could be fertile ground for the Mexican drug traffickers, and for Colombians and Latin Americans in general.

If by this date the dissidence would have done a thorough job in the communities and doesn’t accept royalties or compromises with the old power recycled, it would become a formidable adversary and guarantee an authentic democracy.

The third variant is the emergence of a tropical Jaruzelski. A decent and honorable soldier who establishes a civic-military junta, with the support of the Catholic Church (note: another important actor in the future), dissolving the boring and monotonous parliament and convening general elections within a year.

With all parties, this junta would develop a new Constitution. Of course, in exchange they would ask for immunity and formulate a law that prohibits prosecuting the violations of human rights of the previous government.

The fourth variant would be one led by the poor of some Havana slum. People tired of socialism, without a future, and with great material needs, would take to the streets and start robbing the hard currency stores.

The disturbances would become stronger and in powerful markets on the Paseo de Prado and in Central Park they would put an end to the autocracy. These unexpected political actors would play a fundamental role when it came time to negotiate a deal.

In any of the variants, the role of the exile will be fundamental. In the diaspora could arise crooks and opportunists who would make a deal even with the devil to set up their businesses and weave an alliance with the new leaders.

Whatever happens, within ten years the problem to solve in Cuba will be continuing to generate robust economic growth. And there will still be unavoidable issues. Like the compensation to U.S. Businesses and Cuban owners who were dispossessed of their property by Fidel Castro’s Revolution. This will have to be negotiated: by that date the public coffers will be empty.

If betting on real democracy, it’s important that the banks and world financiers contribute to this new State by returning the millions resting peacefully in secret foreign accounts.

The path of the island could be something else. No one knows. But its fate will be decided in a decade. Right now we’re watching the last roll of the movie. Are you optimistic about the future of Cuba? I’m skeptical.

Photo: Grafitti that appeared in a sports center wall Pontoon, Centro Habana, in July 2012. “Hasta cuando” — How much longer?

August 2 2012