Term Paper: Cuban Politics

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Cuban Politics

Cuba is considered to be one of the most important countries in Latin America and one of the most interesting study cases for global politics. It represents a bastion of communist rule, on the one hand. However, taking into account Fidel Castro's political approach on the rule of the country, it can be said that the regime in Havana implemented throughout the decades a tailored communist approach; more precisely, it used the basic Marxist theories and adapted them to the specificities of the country. However, recent developments in the country have raised the question over the possible future of the state and the direction Cuban politics will adopt.

It is an interesting case study because it entangles various perspectives on international politics such as the Marxist approach combined with the Cuban nationalist one, and, at the same time, with the desire of the Cuban leaders to enter the world of globalised economies. From these perspectives, it is interesting to see the future developments in the country under the new president, Raul Castro, in order to have an image on Cuba's place in the next decades.

For a proper analysis of the future of Cuba and the possible evolutions in the country, it is essential that a historical background focused on the way in which Fidel attained power and maintained it is essential. Also, Raul's approach on the possible economic solutions such as the Chinese model is important. Finally, the need for a change in the totalitarian rule in order to have good international reactions is crucial as well.

The present account of the situation in Cuba has roots in the historical background of the country and of the region in general. The communist influence of the Cold War took its toll on the development of the region especially from the perspectives of the Cuban Revolution. Fidel Castro, in his attempt to gain power from Batista in the early 1960, marched on the idea of the power of the working class combined with that of nationalism. More precisely, the 26 of July Movement " was the only formal program signed by Castro before he came to power, and it offers the best illustration of Castroism in its guerrilla phase. Its tone was nationalistic, reformist, and vaguely socialistic, and its goals were free elections, constitutional government, agrarian reform, increased industrialization, and the exclusion of all forms of foreign intervention. Its demands found their origin in the past history of Cuban left-wing democratic, nationalist movements." (Welch, 1984, 4) This perspective is important not so much for the historical background it creates, but for establishing the conditions in which the Castro regime functioned so far.

The way in which Cuba developed during the Cold War determined a long series of interruptions at the level of the diplomatic relations with countries such as the United States. The constant tensions in the region which culminated with the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 60s led to the conclusion that the cohabitation with a communist country would be impossible. That state of affairs continued throughout the Castro regime as Fidel was considered one of the last remains of the communist bloc, along with China and North Korea. Although the situation in Cuba can hardly be compared to the Korean case, the particular form of government based on state run economy and a deep sense of nationalism in all aspects of life have determined the international scene to view the current change of guards as an opportunity to reconsider its relation with the island.

The first signals that the new presidency is sending to its international partners are considered to be positive ones. In this sense, Rau Castro, despite the fact that he is part of the family that has ruled Cuba for more than four decades, is openly criticizing the current situation in Cuba. More precisely, he "added to speculation that change might be afoot with a series of speeches in December asserting his frustration with the country's bureaucracy and launching a campaign to bolster the country's low food output. For some analysts, Raul's recent statements amount to a move in the direction of China's relatively liberalized Communist economic model." (Teslik, 2007) From this point-of-view, it can be said that the current change in leadership may prove to be an important move for the future of the Cuba state.

Despite the open statements made by the acting president, there are certain issues that may determine a different course of action. The influence of Fidel Castro in the leadership of the country can still be felt taking into account the strong will and desire to retain power, similar to that which encouraged him to obtain it five decades ago. In this sense, analysts believe that the future of the Cuban administration run by Raul Castro lies in the desire of the former president to be excluded from politics. Therefore, "he could promote a smooth succession, if only by reaffirming his certainty that Raul will make the right decisions for Cuba's future, whatever they may be. Or he could stubbornly dig in his heels and adamantly insist on maintaining the true Fidelista faith that has created the current morass." (Ratliff, 2006) Therefore, first and foremost, the future of the country can be determined by the current leader being left to govern.

Most of the opinions however suggest that Fidel Castro lacks the power to further intervene on the political scene (Ratliff, 2006). This point taken into consideration, the Raul Castro administration may try to adapt the current situation in Cuba to the new trends on the international market. Therefore, the Chinese model, being a successful story of the communist regime adapting to the capitalist principles of the market economies, may prove a useful example to be implemented in Cuba.

The Chinese example can be useful for the Cuban administration because it is considered that at the moment the situation on the island resembles profoundly with China at the moment of Mao's death. More precisely, "today Cuba is an economic black hole almost equal to China when Mao Zedong died in 1976. In 2004, a high-ranking Cuban official admitted to Le Monde Diplomatique that, "Everybody [in Cuba] wants economic changes, except Fidel" (Ratliff, 2006). It is also similar, some analysts point out, to the disastrous situation of East Germany (Shlaes, 2008). However, the European case cannot be taken into account due to the differences existing at the level of the political arena each of the two states activates. Therefore, the Chinese model remains the most viable alternative to the current communist regime.

Raul Castro can be seen in this sense as a strong promoter of the Chinese modern society. First and foremost, he is considered to be a strong supporter and admirer of the reforms achieved in the Asian country. In this sense, "Newsweek's Latin America Editor Joseph Contreras wrote that Raul may "ditch Cuba's Soviet economics in favor of Beijing's free-market model." Contreras says Raul has studied China's economy since a 1997 trip to Beijing, and that he may be willing to loosen the government's grip on property ownership -- currently over 90% of Cuba's land is publicly owned" (Teslik, 2008). Taking into account the fact that Fidel Castro is not likely to further interfere in the political decisions of his brother, adopting the Chinese model is not a far-fetched option.

The immediate reactions of the international scene to the possibility of such a change are two folded. On the one hand there are those who believe that a drastic change cannot be perceived immediately. In this sense, "the post-Fidel transition is already well under way, and change in Cuba will come only gradually from here on out" (Sweig, 2007). However, as the regime changes, any visible results for the outside observer will be determined on the long run, similar to the changes that took place once the communist regime took the control of power in the early 60s.

On the other hand, there are analysts that do consider positive scenarios for Cuba at the moment. They are positive in terms of the possible solutions for the society at large. In this sense, it is considered that an abrupt freedom for the population would have a disastrous effect for any regime, especially for that which follows Fidel Castro's. More precisely, "if Cuba were to free political prisoners; allow a free press, political parties, and labor unions to operate; dissolve state security; and hold elections under international observation; then the result would not be a "democratically elected" government if it were to include Raul Castro" (University of Miami, 2007). Therefore, it must be pointed out the fact that on the one hand, any positive solution for loosing up the totalitarian system that is currently under way in Cuba would include the slow but stable democratization of the society. On the other hand however, such measure would demand increasing measures for political plurality, a measure that can clearly undermine Raul Castro's grip on power. Finally, it is considered that the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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