CLARIN

For Cuba, Now Come The Hard Questions

Once the noise dies down over the deal with the U.S., Cuba's educated populace may not take it so well when it realizes the communist regime will budge very little at home.

An anti-American billboard in Havana
An anti-American billboard in Havana
Hugo Martini

-OpEd-

BUENOS AIRES — It certainly is big news: the United States and Cuba restoring diplomatic ties after 53 years as enemies. Still, hard questions have been overlooked in all the excitement as we begin to imagine where Cuba is heading now.

Here are three key questions:

No. 1: President Barack Obama has decided to place Cuba on the same chessboard as countries with political systems opposed to American values, but that nonetheless generate no real risks in international affairs. How does this mechanism work? Havana was a danger to stability when, as a Soviet ally, it became a communist base 90 miles from the Florida coast.

The situation has changed, and Obama is now telling them they will have the same status as states like Russia or China. It is a message that refreshes a principle we Argentines might do well to bear in mind: State policies are made by the government in charge. The world will not act if states violate human rights, restrict press liberties, twist legislative and judicial functions to suit a government, imprison opponents without good cause or design legal systems with double standards — one for the government and its friends, and one for the citizenry.

No. 2: The project envisaged for Cuba, namely to make it a "Chinese-style" system of open economy and political dictatorship, could face difficulties. When Deng Xiaoping began China's economic liberalization in 1978, he was working on the basis of a reality: that 60% of the Chinese people were illiterate. In contrast, Cuba is winding down the Castro era with a 98% literacy rate, which is almost the same as in 1959 when it was the second Latin American country in terms of literacy after Argentina (according to UNESCO education quality reports).

[rebelmouse-image 27088437 alt="""" original_size="670x368" expand=1]

In Havana — Photo: Christopher Michel

The question is, how will the highly educated Cuban population tolerate a system with two (capitalist and communist) heads? Teaching is essential to improvement, but you cannot simply have your way with educated people.

No. 3: The importance given to the Cuban culture may not last that long. Cuba has for the last half century been linked to one name, Fidel Castro, who has always been more important than his country. Cuba represents no more than .07% of the world economy, .06% of global trade, and 1.5% of the Latin American economy. Since January 1959, thanks to Fidel's clever strategy, Cuba stopped being a Caribbean island subject to regional power plays, and became a player in the Cold War. Until now it has never been a part of the politics of its own region, notwithstanding the end of that war and dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The end of the crisis prompts a question only the Cubans will be able to answer: Can they become something more than the Caribbean's largest island on its way to being a mega tourist hub?

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

Extreme Winter Weather at Syrian Refugee Camps

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Bertrand Hauger and Jane Herbelin

👋 Grüss Gott!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Ukraine lashed out at Biden’s prediction about Russian intentions, Austria is betting on a new incentive for the unvaccinated, and the Australian city of Adelaide is baffled by a mysterious spate of googly eyes. We also look at Russia’s latest efforts to dismantle the REvil hacking group, at Washington’s request, and what this means in the context of U.S.-Russia tensions over Ukraine.

[*Swabian - Germany]

Keep reading... Show less
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ