05 February 2007

La Novela de Fidel

Fidel’s soap opera is about to get canceled according to Marifeli Perez-Stable, FIU Professor.
Though the theme for the new show seems to be more of the same Fidelista genre, the new show seems to have a different style and focus:

In the meantime, life -- such as it is -- goes on in Cuba. We can argue endlessly about the significance of the past six months. The succession -- not a transition, which can only be to democracy -- is happening before our eyes. On the regime's terms, it is a success. For now. Cubans are said to be fearful and anxious about what lies ahead, yet also relieved. Interminable speeches and ideological battles are receding. The nightly soap opera often starts on time at 8:30, sparing viewers the soporific Roundtable on current events.

There's more but, on the whole, not much yet. Still, we're getting inklings of what might be. In six months, Raúl Castro has paid more attention to the economy than his brother did in six years. Sure, talk about results isn't earthshaking anywhere except for Cuba. Even the modest economic reforms of the early 1990s were long ago frozen, curtailed or retrenched. In 2004, for example, the regime pared back self-employment licenses for 40 private gainful activities, including clowns, magicians, masseurs/masseuses and vendors of sundries like soap, mousetraps and funeral wreaths.

The Professor also brings the very real of internal changes within the party itself that could bring sweeping changes to Cuba’s economy if not its politics.

A few days ago, the Financial Times reported that the Communist Party is finally preparing the long-delayed congress for late this year or early 2008. As far as I know, it is the first instance of an official mention of the blessed event, even if attributed to unnamed party insiders. Why is this significant? Castro, the elder, has long resisted the serious discussion of economic reforms that the congress could not avoid. A year from now he'll likely be dead or so deteriorated that the successors can go about their business unhindered. If he's alive and recuperated, then they're in trouble.

Like a true Novela what ultimately will happen is anybody guess. Perez-Stable's advice:

Stay tuned!

The Whole Letter Here

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