The Scene is Indeed Confusing / Laritza Diversent

Fidel Castro in Parliament, for the first time in four years

Before the formation of the current Council of State on February 25, 2008, Fidel Castro resigned his posts in that body. In a public address he explained that the state of his health no longer allowed him to hold “a responsibility requiring more mobility and dedication than I was physically able to offer.”

On July 7, 2010, after several months of absence from the media, Fidel Castro resurfaced noticeably recuperated.

The comments were quick to follow: “Does he intend to reclaim his duties and return to power?” On the streets, people speculated that he was attempting a “slap-on-the-hand coup” against Raúl Castro, after he had relinquished the country’s leadership to him on July 31, 2006 for health reasons.

Apparently, his younger brother highly respects him, especially since he is, at the moment, the man who has the responsibility to lead the nation.

It’s possible that Fidel Castro misses his position as number one. But time does not pass for the sake of passing and the current political scene does not allow reversal, rendering any action risky.

The latest elections for candidates to the National Assembly of People’s Power revealed a 20 percent voter abstention, an officially recognized figure and unimaginable in past elections. This is evidence that popular discontent is now escaping control by the State.

Someone asked me if during the 7 August extraordinary session of the National Assembly another announcement calling for elections could have been agreed to, newly appointing Fidel Castro as Head of State.

The idea, from a legal point of view, seems ridiculous. First, a strong reason would be necessary to justify a change in the country’s leadership. Second, if said reason were found, that announcement would expose an internal power struggle. However, in Cuba anything can happen.

It’s certain that the shadow of the “compañero who reflects,”* generates doubts as to who truly governs and decides in this country. However, his aged image, incoherence and mental gaps show him as inept for leadership. The perception is general and I don’t think the majority of the population would endorse his return, although I don’t doubt it could be imposed.

The “messiah” sends us a sly little message: “Careful, I’m still in the game.” He’s trying to gain some space among the ambitious youth who wish to gain trust and positions in the highest spheres of power.

I suspect that behind his figure the interests of other characters are hidden and that his sudden appearance is related to the unprecedented dialogue with the Church and the release of 52 political prisoners from the Black Spring of 2003.

The doubt arises as to whether the government will truly undertake measures to improve the human rights situation on the island, that would merit a change in policy from the European Union and Washington. Incidentally, the reappearance of the ex-leader puts Raúl’s authority and capacity to make decisions and undertake changes within the system in doubt.

The struggles for power are unseen, but they are felt. The internal performance of the repressive entities is erratic. On the one hand they repress, with intimidation and arbitrary detentions of the opposition and independent journalists; and on the other hand, on occasion they display a tolerance that begs the question: who’s giving orders? The Cuban political scene is indeed confusing.

Laritza Diversent

Photo: AFP

*Translator’s Note: “compañero who reflects,” is a reference to Fidel Castro’s regular columns in the newspaper, entitled “The Reflections of compañero Fidel,” with the simple title of “compañero” — or “comrade” — intended to carry its own message.

Translated by: Yoyi el Monaguillo

August 22, 2010