Raúl Castro’s Cuba in 2013

The University of Miami’s Dr. Jaime Suchlicki in the Miami Herald:

Raúl Castro’s Cuba in 2013

http://media.miamiherald.com/smedia/2013/01/11/18/39/bnPj6.Em.56.jpegAfter six years in power, Gen. Raúl Castro is unwilling to chart a radically new course for Cuba or offer concessions to the U.S. Yet expectations remain that the younger Castro will follow the Chinese or the Vietnamese model and even find an accommodation with the United States.

Wrong on both counts. With Fidel alive, or even when he is dead, it would be difficult for Raúl to reject his brother’s legacy of political and economic centralization. Raúl’s legitimacy is based on being Fidel’s heir. Any major move to reject Fidel’s “teachings” would create uncertainty among Cuba’s ruling elites — party and military. It could also increase instability as some would advocate rapid change, while others cling to more orthodox policies. Cubans could see this as an opportunity for mobilization, demanding faster reforms.

For Raúl, the uncertainties of uncorking the genie’s bottle in Cuba are greater than keeping the lid on and moving cautiously. For the past 52 years, political considerations have always dictated economic policies.

Raúl does not seem ready to provide meaningful and irreversible concessions for a U.S.-Cuba normalization. Like his brother in the past, public statements and speeches are politically motivated and directed at audiences in Cuba, the United States and Europe. Serious negotiations on important issues are not carried out in speeches from the plaza. They are usually carried out through the normal diplomatic avenues open to the Cubans in Havana, Washington and the United Nations or other countries, if they wish. These avenues have never been closed as evidenced by the migration accord and the anti-hijacking agreement between the United States and Cuba.

Raúl is unwilling to renounce the support and close collaboration of countries like Venezuela, China, Iran and Russia in exchange for an uncertain relationship with the United States. At a time that anti-Americanism is strong in Latin America and elsewhere, Raúl’s policies are more likely to remain closer to regimes that are not particularly friendly to the United States and that demand little from Cuba in return for generous aid.

Raúl is no Deng Xiaoping and no friend of the United States.

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