The Future of the Cuban Revolution
With the surprising break-through in U.S. – Cuban relations, the usual tendency of people in the U.S. to see everything in binary terms is likely to dominate any English-language media discussions of the Island’s future. That is, “we” assume this means more “capitalism” … on “our” terms. And that the surprise announcement that relations will be normalized (although, when I think about it, since its independence in 1898, “normal” relations have meant U.S. domination of Cuba, without even the fiction of mutual respect between sovereign nations), means the “dissidents”… i.e. the political right… will be vindicated.
Cubans have been discussing political and economic change for quite some time now, and not all dissidents are on the right. And not all critics of the prevailing system are outside the party, nor wish to be. Published last January in the U.S. based Socialist journal, The Jacobin, Cuban born academic Samuel Farber provides a run-down of possible scenarios for a “normalized” Cuba, and the wide array of competing political and economic positions laid out — from the right, left and center now discussing the future of the Revolution.
In light of the role the Vatican played in yesterday’s announcements by Washington and Havana, more attention should be paid to the Catholic Church, and Catholic organizations in any developing any likely scenario of Cuba’s future:
… The church is among the most efficiently managed organization on the island, second only to the military. Strategically and tactically conscious of how to pursue its goals, it aims to become a formidable moral force on the island, as a “neutral” arbiter standing above every conflicting social and political interest in Cuba.
To that end, the Church is attempting to shape its identity as the long-time custodian of Cuban cultural traditions, emphasizing features of Cuban culture associated with popular Afro-Cuban religion, like the worship of the the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, the Patron Saint of Cuba known as Ochún in the Yoruba tradition (while at the same time seeking to distance itself from that “pagan” cult). In donning its “custodian” clothes, it has worked hard to dodge such thorny historical and political issues as its militant support for Spanish rule, particularly during the last War of Independence, and its ties to right-wing opposition during the early years of the revolutionary government.
The Future of the Cuban Revolution, Samuel Farber, Jacobin, 5 January 2014 is ESSENTIAL READING for anyone planning to say anything or even idly speculate about Cuba’s future, if they aren’t just blowing smoke.