Miguel Diaz-Canel, Vice-President on Paper / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 30 August 2017 — He was born on April 20, 1960. Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, a former university professor and first vice-president of the Council of State and Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, is an “architect” of limited inventiveness and little ingenuity, a simple leader fashioned by political necessity.

A video made last February has in recent days gone viral. In it, this gentleman leader can be seen at a Communist Party conference giving the most strident Stalinist-style harangue. But aside from the way some are interpreting this deplorable action, it is worth noting that such behavior is typical for Cuban leaders, defending power they do not have.

Skilled, with good eyesight and an even better sense of smell, the first vice-president of the Caribbean’s largest nation squanders his bravado on what he describes as “an avalanche of subversive proposals and projects.” Among those he mentions are the compendium of digital content informally distributed on the island and known by everyone as The Weekly Packet, certain privately owned businesses that recall the 1950’s, and the digital magazine OnCuba, which he promises to close.

This deplorable proceeding will go down in history, and certainly not as a glorious moment. This reminds me of the catchy chorus from a song by the Spanish singer-songwriter Joaquín Sabina, which goes: “For lies, those of reality. You promise everything, but give nothing…”

I understand that clever people take advantage of the ignorance of others, that scholars have opinions, and that talk show guests talk. But the video was made in February. It is now September, OnCuba is still in operation and the Weekly Packet’s programming is still being distributed. In a dictatorial nation such as this, calling Díaz-Canel a vice-president is as dubious as calling Kim Jong-un’s barber a hair stylist.

Too bad for Díaz-Canel. For someone who can be as imposing as a Spanish galleon at full sail, he comes off as a marionette, someone who seems to forget that in Cuba it is the Party that, for the moment, holds power.

The second-secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, Dr. José Ramón Machado Ventura, made it clear to him when he decided not to grant Cuban legal status to the Che Guevara Foundation due to simple personal problems with his family. To date, the late guerilla leader’s former home remains nothing more than a legal studies center. The same thing happened to a foundation established by the famous Cuban singer Pablo Milanés, which he also shut down under the pretext that it was encouraging tendencies more suited to a capitalist lifestyle.

One has to remain hopeful and look at the facts before coming to any conclusions about the future of Cuba. It does not necessarily matter whose head wears the crown but rather who holds the scepter and sits on the throne.

What is clear is that, with barely five months to go before that fateful day in February 2018, there is still no real successor to the current leadership.