There are few constants in global politics: American imperialism, Israeli-Palestinian tensions – and the Castro brothers ruling Cuba.
The latter, however, may soon change.
And for the first time in the more than five decades since the revolution, capitalism could slowly materialize without the admission of Cuba’s leaders.
Since assuming the presidency from his brother Fidel in 2008, Raul Castro has been as blunt about Cuba’s economic outlook as a worn out grandfather bitterly complaining about dry holiday ham.
But unlike the fragile ego of a below-average cook, Cuba’s depressed economy needs such critical realism.
Besides proposing that politicians should be limited to two five-year terms (which is ironic coming from one in a pair that has been at the helm of the island nation for 52 years), Raul is supporting the elimination of ration books, the government’s giving of 180,000 licenses to small businesses, and the loosening of restrictions on purchasing and selling homes.
The president contradicts these capitalistic proposals by maintaining that socialism will not fail and that he simply wants to modernize the model; however, considering the potential changes, he comes more than a tad disingenuous.
Plus, if Cuba continues its progression to an open market, the United States may become inclined to lift its embargo.
Castro can claim all he wants that his changes, proposed during a speech at the first party congress since 1997, do not contradict socialism; but privatizing certain industries and stating that two plus two is “never five or six,” does, in fact, lay the foundation for capitalism.
And that is good news for the people of Cuba.
With most once-socialist countries now in the “former” category and the few remaining that still practice socialism renowned for subpar living conditions, it is clear that socialism does not work.
Now, while capitalism is not perfect and Cuba should attempt to privatize certain sectors while giving its people universal health care and education (as should the U.S.), holding onto a failing system is counterproductive.
Castro, who could very well cast himself out of the job in two years, needs to admit to what his proposals are: a first step toward liberalizing the Cuban economy.
Not only would doing this allow Cubans to finally have a sense of where the country is heading, but it would also give marching orders to those who will take over after he retires and make the U.S. more willing to re-engage with a long-lost neighbor.
Castro, it’s time the system changes and you know it all too well. As such, it’s also time that you cop to it.