By Dr. Jose Azel at the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies:
The Other Cuban Succession
The Cuban succession conjecture pastime began in earnest in 2006 when an aged and ailing Fidel Castro transferred power to his younger brother Raul. With General Castro now 83 years old, the speculation continues as to whom, in the younger generation of Cuban military officers and political apparatchiks, will succeed him.
In Cuba, the elderly Castros are seeking to perpetuate the power of the communist regime around a military-party-dynastic succession. It is a succession my colleague Dr. Pedro Roig has labeled as “a supreme manifestation of tragic insolence” that seeks to give continuity to the Marxist catastrophe recycling its offspring. It is a fragile succession of questionable legitimacy offering only freedomless lives. It is a succession that presumes that the also aging historical exiles will simply fade away.
They miscalculate; there is a less noticed Cuban succession taking place north of Havana that juxtaposes the one on the Island. It is the Cuban-American succession from first wave anti-Castro exiles to their American sons and daughters.
My generation – of the aging heroes of the urban resistance of the 1960’s, of the Bay of Pigs invasion, of the uprisings in the Escambray mountains, of the Pedro Pan exodus- is also transferring its 56 years old quest for a democratic Cuba to the next generation.
It is a generation in prime adulthood of U.S.-raised and educated professionals exceling in every field of human endeavor. By way of example, in the Washington political establishment, it is the generation typified by the new cohort of Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Representatives-elect Alex Mooney (R-WV) and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL). Alongside Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Representatives Albio Sires (D-NJ), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) there will be eight Cuban-Americans serving in the 114th Congress.
Cuban-Americans make up less than ½ of 1 percent of the U.S. population, yet they make up 3 percent of the U.S. Senate and more that 1 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives. They speak for four states and both political parties. Even more remarkable is the fact that all Cuban-American representatives, regardless of party affiliation or state representation, speak with a single voice regarding Cuba and its future.
My generation may not have succeeded in ridding Cuba of the Castro regime, but in our unplanned succession we have succeeded admirably in transmitting love of country -for both the U.S. and Cuba- and democratic values to our sons and daughters. Ours is a vision of a democratic Cuba that they will continue to articulate, sometimes in broken Spanish, but eloquently and passionately.
Those inheriting our struggle, unlike their counterparts in Cuba, understand freedom as a state of being, and a state of consciousness. They apprehend the free flow of information, economic freedom, human rights, political liberty, transparency, freedom of speech, and empowerment of the individual as a way of life. Their freedom fighting tactics may differ from ours, but these are values they will not repudiate by embracing Cuba’s tyrannical collectivism.
We are passing the torch to a generation that understands instinctively that economic well-being is a consequence of freedom, and that to value freedom is an insightful philosophical and moral achievement. Also, in dramatic contrast with their counterparts in Cuba, it is a generation that has acquired the American ethos that public servants are not enlightened messianic emissaries.
It is a generation that grew up listening to our stories of a lost country and has learned from us the lessons of Pericles as he sought to inspire the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War: “Make up your minds that happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.” Their love of freedom honors us.
*José Azel is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami. He is the author of the book, Mañana in Cuba.
1 thought on “The other Cuban succession”
I don’t mean to be ungracious, but I do wish all Cubans would stop calling Cuba’s dictator “General” Castro, because he’s definitely no general (and probably not even a Castro). The MSM and the rest of the usual suspects can play word games, but we should insist on calling all things related to Cuba by their true and proper names, for the sake of both justice and dignity. Never dignify a fraud by even appearing to take him at face value.
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