After lots of waiting and baited breath, the Cuban Communist Party’s Sixth Congress finally passed. It was Raul Castro’s chance to knock the country in a new direction… and like most of us suspected (but secretly wished we were wrong), no major reforms were announced. Writer Carlos Perez Llana described the meetings as “offering little new and rehashing a lot of the old.” (sigh).
Here’s a little more of his article published in Raul Missed the Chance to Reinvent Cuba on TheAustralian.com
“The sale of buildings and vehicles will be legalised and self-employment authorised, mainly in the service sector. But what fate awaits industries, lacking capital and forced to pay taxes, that are driven into the market?
Nearly 1.5 million Cubans will never have a stake in the industries controlled by the military bourgeoisie. Nor was the issue of land ownership resolved: only a few plots will be leased in some form. As a result, Cuba will continue to import a lot of food, most of it at a price that the population cannot afford.
The Sixth Congress ignored questions of human rights. Neither freedom of the press nor access to information was on the agenda, and the opposition will continue to be ignored, its only options being conditional freedom or exile.”
Writer Carlos Perez Llana, who is is vice-president of the University of the 21st Century in Cordoba, Argentina, and professor of international relations at the University T. Di Tella in Buenos Aires
Fox Latino comments on Obama’s reaction: “I would welcome real change from the Cuban government,” he said during an interview with Univision, the largest U.S. Spanish-language television network. “For us to have the kind of normal relations we have with other countries, we’ve got to see significant changes from the Cuban government and we just have not seen that yet,” Obama said.
Obama also pointed out that “If you think about it, (Fidel) Castro came into power before I was born – he’s still there and he basically has the same system when the rest of the world has recognized that the system doesn’t work,” Obama said.
Resident Cuban blogger Octavo Cerco comments on the 6th Congress that as citizens of Cuba, “we have to wait until January 28, 2012 to implement the changes. It was assumed that the super-change would be now, but they give us a tiny-change and once again postpone the big-change.”
So after months of biting our lips and crossing fingers for some “game-changers” in Cuba/US policies, it seems we’re right back where we started — back to the infamous waiting game.
Carlos Perez Llana finished his article with the disappointing prognosis… “Cuba cannot remain isolated, dependent on Venezuelan petro-dollars and penalised by America’s ill-conceived trade embargo. Any realistic agenda for change requires opening up to the world, along with ensuring full freedom within the country. Unfortunately, the Sixth Congress demonstrated that the Communist Party remains in denial about the country’s prospects and options.”
Somehow despite all the feet-dragging rhetoric, Octava Cerca keeps her chin up knowing that the clock is ticking and change is inevitable… “But even I, the Queen of Incredulity, feel a certain optimism”, she writes. “The economic freedoms that the Cuban government is now forced to concede at the risk of ‘collapse’ will be the foundation of social and political freedoms that we will snatch from them tomorrow.”