14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, November 14, 2019 — Are we in the midst of a transition? Are we moving forward or backwards? Is this the beginning of new era? These are among the pressing questions addressed in a new book, Cuba Post-Castro: Mirage or Reality? published under the auspices of the Cuban Studies Program at Sergio Arboleda University. A team of thirteen authors from various disciplines discuss in eight chapters what they describe as “diverse views of a society in transition.”
The work was compiled by Sergio Angel, a professor at the School of Politics and International Relations at Sergio Arboleda University in Colombia and the Cuban historian Armando Chaguaceda.
A very well documented introduction, “Reflections on the First Year Díaz-Canel’s Government” by Nicolás Alejandro Liendo and Camilo González, lays bare the tensions between the competing desires for change and continuity in what the authors refer to as “the post-charismatic period,” beginning the death of Fidel Castro.
The book approaches the topic from a variety of political, economic and cultural angles. Miguel Díaz-Canel’s nomination as president is observed through the lens of the social sciences and the humanities, including sociology, history, political science, law and philosophy.
Three chapters are devoted to analyzing the results of a June 2018 public opinion survey conducted on the island by CubaData, an online market research firm, in which Cubans’ opinions on the current economic and political situation in their country are presented.
The country’s new constitution, which took effect on October 10, 2018, is analyzed from legal and political points of view, and in terms of its implications for the economy. The ebbs and flows of censorship in the country’s intellectual life — from the dark moments of the gray five-year period to the recent adoption of decree 349 — are also considered.
The paralysis of Cuba’s political-economic model, which preserves basic characteristics of the communist system, is perhaps one of the topics on which the authors’ views most align. Although they acknowledge the changes that have occurred, they seem to agree that Díaz-Canel’s role in updating the model seems “insignificant” and that he remains “subordinate to the authority of Raúl Castro and the inner circle of leaders within the Cuban Communist Party and the Revolutionary Armed Forces. ”
Most of the book’s scholars believe the democratizing trends remain very fragile and that the few substantial political reforms taken in recent years must be evaluated in the context of timid economic changes.
The missing chapter in this compilation is the one that should have referred to the role that the political opposition plays in the conversion to democracy. Mentioned only tangentially, the topic “shines by its absence” in the midst of excellent analyses that meet the most rigorous demands of the academy. Also missing is one of the most important aspects of Cuban reality: the dispute with the United States and its undeniable impact on the evolution of a supposed transition.
Probably this book is already on the list of prohibited texts that Cuban Customs updates with extreme dedication in order to prevent the arrival of fresh ideas that might feed the debate. Nevertheless, it should be required reading in the schools where the political cadres of the Cuban Communist Party and public employees are trained.
From the Newsroom: The book can be acquired here.
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.