The Same Names / Claudia Cadelo

"This last Congress has been historic!" "Why...? Is it really the last?" Image: Garrincha

When I look at the images of the Sixth Congress the irrationality startles me. When I hear the list of delegates, the members of the Politburo and the Central Committee, I feel physically sick: Machada Ventura, Balaguer, Cintas Frias and an elderly etc., prevent me from continuing to listen objectively. To top it off, Raul Castro decides to tell a story about family machismo which seemingly belongs in a Mexican soap opera: he cuts Machado Ventura off after some brief gossipy chatter. Certainly this scene would have been more appropriate in front of the kitchen stove than at the long-awaited Communist Party Congress.

The worst — or best, depending on your interpretation — is that we have to wait until January 28, 2012 to implement the changes. It was assumed that the super-change would be now, but they give us a tiny-change and once again postpone the big-change. Raul Castro laments the archaic dogma, promises (another) rectification, predicts a future of younger leaders and assures us that, slowly, socialism and the revolution will be saved. The General knows, he has to know, that his promises will be fulfilled only when he is no longer on the Central Committee, when he is no longer First Secretary of any party, when a truly new wave of public officials assume power. And it is precisely this that is the imperative of the powerful elderly: minimize change and play a politics of drop-by-drop, to put off as long as possible the inevitable change, the end of the Party’s omnipresence.

But even I, the Queen of Incredulity, feel a certain optimism. The economic freedoms that the Cuban government is now forced to concede at the risk of “collapse” will be the foundation of social and political freedoms that we will snatch from them tomorrow. Because then, too, they will be compelled to concede, otherwise they will perish.

April 22, 2011