The Castro era is coming to an end in Cuba: Several hundred MPs from the Communist Unity Party wanted to meet on Friday for a four-day party conference in Havana. At the party conference, President Miguel Díaz-Canel is expected to be elected as the new General Secretary on Monday.
The previous 89-year-old party leader Raúl Castro, brother of the long-time president and revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who died in 2016, the 90-year-old José Ramón Machado Ventura and the 88-year-old Ramiro Valdés are retiring from the leadership ranks.
The Castro brothers were at the head of the Caribbean state for more than six decades, so that most of the residents have no memory of the time before this era. At the age of 60, Díaz-Canel almost represents an epochal change. The meeting of party delegates begins exactly 60 years after Fidel Castro proclaimed the socialist character of the Cuban revolution. Parts of the debate from the event, which is in principle closed to the public, should be televised.
Due to the corona pandemic, there are hardly any tourists in Havana these days. Cubans take care of their day-to-day worries about getting food supplies, queuing for shops, and dealing with dizzying inflation.
“I hope that the party congress will get better,” complained 68-year-old pensioner María Martínez. “The prices are very high.” Norman McKay, a financial expert with the Economist Intelligence Unit, sees Cuba in a “period of trouble and major economic disruptions.” In McKay’s view, there will not “necessarily be a major break in the style of the Communist Party” because the Internet has been accompanied by an increased demand for “responsibility and freedom”.
For some months now, social dissatisfaction has been unusually noticeable in Cuba – which has to do with the spread of the mobile Internet. There were protests from artists and dissidents, but also from animal rights activists. In the social networks, young people called for political freedom and more freedom of expression.
The political scientist Harold Cárdenas draws attention to a “strong feeling of fatigue” that has made itself felt in Cuban society. On the one hand, this has to do with the sanctions policy of the former US President Donald Trump, on the other hand, with the Cuban people’s lack of trust in the “projects and promises” of their own government. Trump’s sanctions had the consequence that the cruise ships with the US tourists did not take place, as did the transfers that the Cubans had received from their relatives abroad. (afp)