‘Red Letter Day’ for Cuba – Raul Castro Retires

Go Lean Commentary

For the first time in decades, Cubans have a president whose last name is not Castro. – News Summary from New York Times article below.

This is a Red Letter Day for Cuba and all of the Caribbean, as Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez is sworn in as President.

We have been observing-and-reporting on the long-awaited re-approachment of Cuba into the brotherhood of Caribbean member-states. In all of our previous commentaries, we cautioned that the full inclusion of Cuba will not manifest until the Castros were gone from the leadership of the country. Today brings us one step closer to that eventuality. But overall this roadmap for Cuba will be a journey, not just a headline. See the news article here:

Title – Fidel Died and Raúl Resigned, but Castros Still Hold Sway in Cuba

By: Frances Robles

MIAMI — For the first time in decades, Cubans have a president whose last name is not Castro.

But as the new president, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, who turns 58 on Friday, takes his first strides to govern an economically distressed country that is perennially in crisis, he will do so with a ring of Castros, and their various spouses and children, around him.

Fidel Castro died in 2016 at 90, and his eldest son, nicknamed Fidelito, killed himself this year. But Raúl Castro, who stepped down on Thursday after two terms as president, remains the leader of the Communist Party and the head of the armed forces. And other Castros run the intelligence services and the vast military conglomerate that manages most state business. One of them is Raúl Castro’s most trusted bodyguard. Another is a lawmaker who supports gay rights.

They are the defenders of a dynasty that is ostensibly there to support Mr. Díaz-Canel — but also to scrutinize him. As an era comes to a close, these stalwarts and heirs of the Cuban revolution will be members of an inner circle that aims to guarantee the succession of a socialist state — all while managing the delicate task of not creating the appearance of a family dynasty reaching into its third reign.

“Don’t anyone get their hopes up,” said María C. Werlau, a Cuba researcher who studies the violent legacy of the Cuban revolution. “Díaz-Canel is purely there for a cosmetic change; he is an offshoot of Raúl and has no power or perceptible source of power. The succession is well underway, and the second generation of Castros is well lined up to take control when Raúl is really out of the picture.”

Here are some prominent members of the clan:

Raúl Castro, 86, stepped down after 12 years as president. He was defense minister for nearly five decades, from 1959 to 2008, and has led the Communist Party since 2006. He retains the title of first party secretary, which he has held since 2011, and which is “where true power resides,” Ms. Werlau said.

But even Mr. Castro, with his revolutionary credentials and fraternal connections, could not pull off all of the changes he had set out to make. Too many old-guard associates put up obstacles when they saw the widening inequalities that accompanied economic reforms. So although Mr. Castro is widely believed to be planning a move from Havana to Santiago de Cuba — on Cuba’s southeastern coast, the other side of the country — he is not expected to leave Mr. Díaz-Canel entirely to his own devices.

Mr. Castro was credited with strengthening institutional control and formalizing the concept of consensus governing. He believes in delegated authority. He has made sure that there are enough internal checks and balances to keep an eye on any successor with big ideas, while still watching this one’s back. Mr. Díaz-Canel was a handpicked successor, and it is not in Raúl Castro’s interest to see him fail.

“Raúl will be watching,” said Andy S. Gómez, a Cuba expert, now retired, who worked at the University of Miami. “Raúl, as first party secretary, will be not only watching him, but, more importantly, being there for him, symbolically, so he can move forward.”

Alcibíades Hidalgo, who was Raúl Castro’s chief of staff for a dozen years, believes that his former boss will hold on to power “until the day he dies.”

Alejandro Castro Espín, 52, is Raúl Castro’s son. Mr. Castro Espín runs the intelligence services for both the armed forces and the Interior Ministry. That is a big task in a country that works hard to stifle dissent and sniff out spies.

Mr. Castro Espín was part of the team that negotiated with President Barack Obama’s administration over restoring diplomatic ties with the United States, a sign that he is part of the most trusted inner circle.

But he also has serious anti-imperialist credentials: The title of a book he wrote in 2009, “Empire of Terror,” offers a not-very-subtle clue of his opinion of Cuba’s big neighbor to the north.

“The most important of the younger generation is Castro Espín,” said Brian Latell, a former C.I.A. analyst who has closely watched the Castro family. “I think he has a lot of influence with his father.”

Juan Juan Almeida, the son of a Cuban revolutionary war hero, grew up with Mr. Castro Espín and lived in his house when they were children. He said he was not convinced that his former best friend had the skills to succeed after his father dies.

“He’s powerful, but his power was given to him by his father,” Mr. Almeida said. “He will last as long as his father’s power lasts.”

Some experts believe that Raúl Castro would have liked to have made his son president, but that it would have looked bad internationally to have another Castro take over.

Gen. Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Callejaswas a Castro by marriage — he used to be married to Raúl Castro’s daughter Débora, and is the father of Mr. Castro’s favorite grandson.

General Rodríguez is president of Gaesa, the holding company that controls the military’s business interests. The military runs all of the hotels and state-run restaurants, convenience stores and gas stations, making General Rodríguez one of the country’s most powerful men.

“He must have 1,200 companies under him,” said Guillermo Fariñas, an outspoken critic of the government who lives in Villa Clara Province. “I think the one who manages the country economically is him.”

Raúl Rodríguez Castro, General Rodríguez’s son, is Raúl Castro’s bodyguard, the kind of position that lends itself to knowing all kinds of secrets, Mr. Fariñas said.

Mariela Castro is Raúl Castro’s daughter. A member of Parliament, she enjoys an international and domestic following, largely because of her support for gay and transgender rights.

“Mariela is part of the scenery,” Mr. Hidalgo said“She’s a decorative figure with a nice cause. In terms of power, she is far from the role of her brother or her ex-brother-in-law.”

Mr. Almeida said it boiled down to appearances.

“In terms of becoming a vice minister or joining the Council of State, I don’t see her doing that,” Mr. Almeida said. “The idea is to present a democratic face and erase the faces of the past. For the international community, they need to offer a nice friendly face of Cuba, which means not putting forth a Castro.”

Mr. Hidalgo, a former ambassador to the United Nations who later defected and now lives in Miami, does not think it will work.

“They are trying to give an appearance of change to what is fundamentally the same,” he said. “They are trying to continue Castroism without Castros in the near future, which is practically impossible.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/19/world/americas/cuba-castros-communism.html; posted April 19, 2018.


VIDEO – Life After Castro: Who Is Cuba’s Next President? – https://nyti.ms/2vmutkE

Posted April 19, 2018 – As Raúl Castro of Cuba steps down, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez steps up. Here’s a look at Mr. Castro’s handpicked successor and what’s ahead for the communist country. By DEBORAH ACOSTA and NATALIE RENEAU.

In addition, see here, how the journey for a new Cuba has transpired in the last years – in reverse chronological order:

Cuba’s President Raul Castro greets members of Parliament at the opening of the third regular session of the eighth legislature, at the National Assembly in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, July 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco, Cubadebate)

The book Go Lean…Caribbean was designed with the expectation of an eventual integration of Cuba into a Caribbean Single Market. This would allow for technocratic stewardship and oversight of the region’s economic, security and governing engines for all 30 Caribbean member-states. The book therefore serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). The roadmap anticipated the heavy-lifting of the needed reconciliation in the Cuban eco-system. This relevant statement is embedded in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Page 12):

xiii. Whereas the legacy of dissensions in many member-states (for example: Haiti and Cuba) will require a concerted effort to integrate the exile community’s repatriation, the Federation must arrange for Reconciliation Commissions to satiate a demand for justice.

While Cuba is Too Big To Ignore – a quarter of the region’s population and landmass – it is a near Failed-State status today. So the roadmap anticipates a “Marshall Plan”-like effort to reform and transform Cuba. Marshall Plan? As in …

The Bottom Line on the Marshall Plan

By the end of World War II much of Europe was devastated. The Marshall Plan, named after the then Secretary of State and retired general George Marshall, was the American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of the war. During the four years (1948 – 1952) that the plan was operational, US $13 billion in economic and technical assistance was given to help the recovery of the European countries. The plan  looked to the future, and did not focus on the destruction caused by the war. Much more important were efforts to modernize European industrial and business practices using high-efficiency American models, reduce artificial trade barriers, and instill a sense of hope and self-reliance. This worked! By 1952 as the funding ended, the economy of every participant state had surpassed pre-war levels. Generally, economists agree that the Marshall Plan was one of the first elements of European integration, as it erased trade barriers and set up institutions to coordinate the economy on a regional level—today, the European Union, the latest successor of the integration effort, is the world largest integrated economy.

There is the need to re-boot … the entire region, but Cuba is more acute. This re-boot roadmap – Marshall Plan – commences with the recognition that all the Caribbean is in crisis, and in the “same boat” despite the colonial heritage or language. All 30 geographical member-states need to confederate, collaborate, and convene for solutions – we cannot leave any member-states behind. This is the purpose of the Go Lean/CU roadmap, as featured in this declaration of the Go Lean/CU prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion GDP & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.

The ill-fated Cuban-Communism Revolution started 1959, during the hey-day of the Cold War – manifested enmity between the United States of America (USA) and allies versus the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and their aligned communist states.  Cuba has not progressed since then.

The Go Lean book therefore features 370 pages of details of the community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to facilitate a re-boot for Cuba (and other countries). Describing “how”, the book includes one advocacy particular related to Cuba; consider the specific plans, excerpts and headlines here from Page 236, entitled:

10 Ways to Re-boot Cuba

1 Lean-in for the Caribbean Single Market
This regional re-boot will allow for the unification of the region into one market, thereby creating a single economy of 30 member-states, 42 million people and a GDP of over $800 Billion. Following the model of European integration, the CU will be the representative and negotiating body for Cuba and the entire region for all trade and security issues. This helps to assuage the political adversity expected from Anti-Castro groups.
2 Political Neutrality of the Union

Cuba is the only Communist-led state in the CU region. Other states have multiple party systems: left-leaning or right leaning governments; many have more than 2 parties. The CU is officially neutral! The election of the popular leaders of each country is up to that country. The Election functionality of member-states can be outsourced to the CU as the organization structure will provide the systems, processes and personnel to facilitate smooth and fair election.

3 US Trade Embargo By-Pass

The US embargo against Cuba is an economic, and financial embargo imposed in October 1960. It was designed to punish Cuba to dissuade communism and the nationalization of private property during the revolution. To date, there are judgments of up to $6 billion worth of claims against the Cuban government. Despite this US action, the rest of the Caribbean, Canada and Europe do trade with Cuba, with no repercussions in their relationship with the US. It is expected that after Fidel and Raul Castro, there will be greater liberalization of trade and diplomacy with the US.

4 Marshall Plan for Cuba

To reboot Cuba will require a mini-Marshall Plan. The infrastructure, for the most part, is still the same as in 1958. The engines of the CU will enable a rapid upgrade of the infra-structure and some “low hanging fruit” for returns on the investment. The US-based Cuba Policy Foundation estimates that the embargo costs the U.S. economy $3.6 billion per year in economic output. The vision is for the CU to be the benefactor of a re-booted Cuban economy, not the US.

5 Leap Frog Philosophy

There is no need to move Cuba’s 1950’s technology baseline to the 1960’s, then the 1970’s, and so on; rather, the vision is to leap-frog Cuba to where technology is going. This includes advance urban planning concepts like electrified ligh-trail, prefab houses, alternative energies and e-delivery of governmental services and payment systems.

6 Repatriation and Reconciliation of the Cuban Diaspora
7 Access to Capital Markets
8 Optimization of Agricultural Exports
9 National Historic Places

Since Cuba’s infrastructure has not kept pace with the changing standards, it is expected that many of the Cuba’s buildings would qualify for condemnation. The CU will first sponsor the effort to identify and preserve buildings of historical significance. These would have to be restored and preserved.

10 World Heritage Sites

As of 2012, there are 9 World Heritage Sites in Cuba. The CU will promote these sites as tourist attractions for the domestic and foreign markets.

The hope for an open free Cuba – Cuba Sera Libre – is not just shared by Cuban people on the island or in the Diaspora abroad. There is also the welcome of the Caribbean neighbors, tourists, trading-partners, and international stakeholders. The manifestation of this hope must come from the Caribbean itself. A new Cuba should be the manifestation of Caribbean people helping Caribbean people. Thus must be our quest!

The Go Lean roadmap for the CU strives to put the Command-and-Control of Caribbean affairs in the hands of Caribbean people, asserting that the Caribbean can no longer be a parasite of the US, but rather must be a protégé.

Cuba – “in the cold” since 1959! Enough already! Remember the 5-L principle; surely we have looked, listened and learned. Now we need to lend-a-hand.

Applying this 5-L principle, that only leaves the final L, Lead.  But it is our assertion, that it is only Cuba (Cuban people) who gets to pick its leaders. Raul Castro is fading from the scene; so welcome Mr. Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez. Let’s get to work!

Now is the time for all of the Caribbean, Cuba included, to lean-in to this regional roadmap. Now is the time to make this region – all 30 member-states – a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.

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