Decoding the Message

On Tuesday 89-year-old Raul Castro reappeared, wearing a mask, to review a return to normalcy after the Covid-19 peak. (Granma)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, June 10, 2020 — Raul Castro appears in photo accompanying a Granma newspaper article about his most recent public appearance. Whether measured in pixels or centimeters, the image of the First Secretary of the Communist Party takes up barely two percent of the photo.

Although the headline states that it was the Army General who presided over a session of the Politburo, the article does not provide any actual quotes of the “clear directions” he gave. The editor is forced to resort to impersonal language, stating that “the work of our people was recognized” and reiterating” that “lack of discipline must be guarded against.”

A week after his 89th birthday, this half-hearted appearance only serves to feed rumors about Raul Castro’s inability to lead the country under the current constitution’s much disliked Article 5.

Keeping in mind the traditional suspicion with which Cubans read between the lines of whatever the official press has to say or not say, it is obvious that the decoded message should read as follows: Raul Castro will not be around ten months from now to announce his final retirement at the VIII Communist Party Congress.

Playing for time has been the younger Castro brother’s specialty. He called upon us to do everything “slowly but surely*.” He constantly warned that change will happen gradually, even when it seemed increasingly urgent to speed up reforms. This has allowed him to enjoy the irresponsible peace of mind of those who privately chose as their motto “after me, the deluge.”

If it were just about the fate of one person, this issue would be unimportant. But behind all the postponements the future has gone through on this island, there are the many cancelled dreams, aspirations and projects of millions of Cubans.

Translator’s note: The original phrase in Spanish is: “Sin prisa pero sin pausa” — literally: ‘without haste but without pause’.


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