Last Opportunity / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

President Raul Castro at the inauguration of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba
President Raul Castro at the inauguration of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Desde Aqui, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 11 January 2016 — In fewer than one hundred days Cuba’s current leaders will make public their proposals looking ahead to the year 2021. The Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba could be the last opportunity left to the self-named “historic generation of the Revolution” to make concrete proposals to solve specific problems. The conclave also represents an occasion to outline a road map of eventual relief, through the often announced, “conceptualization of the model.”

However, having the opportunity to elaborate proposals for the future is very different from counting on the receivers of the promises being able to believe in them.

Free citizens, in modern democracies, are usually impatient with leaders who don’t meet the terms of what they say they will do. They punish them at the ballot boxes and take to the streets to demand their resignations. The inmates of a prison, in contrast, easily renew their hopes that improvements will come, because the only alternative is to jump the walls of the prison or to plot a riot, where they would be playing with their lives.

A simplified list of the unfinished business of the Cuban government would include aspects such as the insufficiency of wages, the dual monetary system, the lack of productivity and the lack of attractions for foreign investment. To that we would have to add issues of housing, public transportation, shortages and communications. Not to mention deeper issues, such as the lack of political and economic rights.

But students who fail to complete their school assignments have limited chances to get their work re-graded or to take special exams. Nor can they repeat a grade in school every time they want, because there is a limit – let’s say a moral one – to asking for another opportunity, and another limit for granting it.

To many it may seem exaggerated to compare the situation of Cubans with those of prisoners in jail, but it would be even more absurd to equate them with the citizens of a functioning democracy. The truth is that those who do not want to escape, or who are not disposed to riot, convinced they have no power to decide anything at the polls, may be tempted to offer another opportunity, but not in response to just any promise!

The Cuban leaders repeatedly failed. They have not been able to shape the “New Man,” nor have they brought material prosperity and economic equality. They have not eliminated poverty, nor slums; they have not been able to peer into the socialism that 29 years ago they said “now, indeed,” they would construct. The only decent thing that remains is to propose a profound and immediate change.

They have fewer than one hundred days in which to do it.