Cuba’s Raúl Castro’s proclaimed changes are no more than lipstick on a zombieIn Juan of the Dead, an enterprising but admittedly lazy Cuban and his small band of friends face a Havana full of zombies (the regime claims they are dissidents but Juan knows better) by starting a zombie-disposal service. At one point in the comedic, award-winning Spanish film made in Cuba, Juan answers the phone and a plea to get rid of “the old man” with a subtle line: “ Compañero, you’ll have to handle that family matter yourself.”
After 54 years of the Castro brothers’ communist dictatorship, a new generation of Cubans want to take charge of their destiny, to rid themselves of the zombies who blindly follow the Castros.
On Sunday, Raúl Castro seemed to toss them a lifeline — the 81-year-old successor to his ailing brother Fidel says he’s leaving Cuba’s presidency in five years and that the communist island’s constitution will soon include term limits for future leaders.
Castro tapped Miguel Diaz-Canel, a 52-year-old engineer, now seen as his potential successor, for first vice president. He also shook up the rubber-stamp National Assembly by promoting 69-year-old Esteban Lazo Hernandez, Cuba’s highest ranking black official, to replace Ricardo Alarcon, 75, who served for two decades as assembly president.
No doubt, Raúl Castro expects the international community to see these changes as the Great Awakening for Cuba’s leadership gerontocracy, a “historic transcendence” for a new generation to take the mantle and for Afro Cubans to finally bust the iron ceiling that has kept black Cubans from key positions.
If only that were so. This is nothing more than lipstick on a zombie.
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