Raul Castro Responds to Trump’s Policy with More Repression

July 4, 2017 |

By Pedro Campos

Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — A brief review of the current Cuban climate reveals a sudden increase in repression against Cuban opposition and dissidents over the past few weeks since Trump made a speech in Miami announcing the changes he plans to implement in US policy towards Cuba.

Beatings, bans on foreign travel for many opponents to the regime and dissidents, arrests of some of these in their provinces, blocking independent journalists by seizing their equipment and arresting them, worsening conditions for political prisoners and TV ads trying to defame opponents, have all become daily occurrences recently.

With this response, the Comandantes of the Old Guard want people to see that they are punishing “Trump’s people and imperialism”, as if the opposition were a herd of wage earners who work for “the enemy”, when what they are really doing is using changes in US policy as the disconnected excuse they need to try and crush growing domestic resistance to the political and economic dictatorship imposed in the name of a socialism that has never existed.

With all of the control they hold over Cubans, the systematic violation of the general population’s civil, political and economic rights is bringing the country to a crucial face-off between the small group that wants to stay entrenched in power forever and the vast majority of society, including the lower rings of bureaucracy who see their chances of surviving drastically reduced.

The increase in contradictions of the social economic injustice nourished by the wage-paying State and the centralization of political power was inevitable after the Revolution’s symbolic leader died and Venezuela entered a crisis.

Cuba’s growing opposition is the result of the model, which leaders don’t want to change. It has nothing to do with foreign country’s policies.

Due to the high level of centralization of revenues and decision-making, the economic and political crisis is sparking a regression on the original cautionary reforms which were set out for the market that Raul’s “updating” process was directed at. General conditions of ordinary Cubans’ lives are still getting worse as are their expectations which were created and increased when Obama’s administration proposed a rapprochement.

Those who are holding onto power in Cuba can’t recognize the fact that the causes for the present disaster we have, doesn’t respond to the government on duty in Washington, but rather to their own inability to carry out essential political and economic changes to national policy. This, along with the fear of losing power if they do this, as well as them seeing their economy inevitably fall apart and opposition increasing proportionately, has led them to react like any dictatorship would: intensifying repression.

And so, the government fires up their “anti-Imperialism” discourse to try and encourage their followers to support them, which can also become uncontrollable, but those in power don’t really care too much about that. They are trying to blame the US government for their misfortune, like they always do, just like they see Washington behind the wave of the Venezuelan people’s protests against Maduro and his Castro-style government’s anti-democratic impositions.

If the post-Fidel leadership is calculating that by increasing repression against opponents and dissidents, they will manage to reduce Washington’s current pressures, they are probably doing the wrong equation. Because what happened at the Artime Theater in Miami, where Trump announced his Cuba policy, responds to domestic policy issues and negotiations between different forces of the Republican Party. In any case we can continue to bet on an increase of pressure against the political-military group who hold power unlawfully in Cuba, as long as Trump needs the support of Cuban-American congressmen for his own struggles.

It’s clear that lights in Havana have been cut or turned off. This increase in repression is revving up national contradictions, which don’t favor Cuba’s negotiations with Europe in the slightest, leaving behind the so-called common stance and making it harder for the international “Left” to offer their support as they have traditionally done.

If Havana wants to respond to Trump, it needs to do so in the same landscape, that of bilateral policies, and it needs to study what is happening in Washington so that it can look for how best to take advantage of its contradictions. The government’s blindness and intolerance is bringing the Castro government to a face-off on its own soil, where the pragmatists who are interested in making the economy grow are disagreeing more and more with so much intolerance.

Time is running out for State-socialism, because its self-destruction has been programmed into its system. The best thing the “revolutionary” leaders can do is to negotiate a democratic process with the opposition both in Cuba and abroad, which allows them to maintain some economic and political power, but giving the rest of social forces the space they need to show themselves and participate in the decision-making process that is everyone’s business. Waiting for Raul to step down, might be too late.

Socialism isn’t made from the State; it has nothing to do with the State’s exploitation of paid labor or with the concentration of property and wealth in an all-powerful and all-deciding group. The lie behind this injustice can’t be hidden any longer.

By insisting on holding onto their extremist position and entrenched in a “fortress” which they pretend is under siege when it isn’t, and the increase in repression could have disastrous effects on their best interests. We aren’t living in 2003. Venezuela is in crisis. There is greater internet access in Cuba now and there are greater expectations for change, as the Cuban people have lived through a lot in these past 15 years.

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  • Moses Patterson

    The trifecta of both external and internal factors towards fomenting a real challenge to the Castro dictatorship is coming to a head in Cuba. First, no foreign patronage. Both the USSR and now Venezuela have come and gone in their financial support of the Castro dictatorship. Second, the impending void of strong leadership in Cuba with Raul stepping down early next year. Three, renewed pressure from the US on the regime to conform to democratic standards. Now, more than ever before in the last 58 years, Cubans may have a real chance to throw the Castros and their moribund socialist regime out of town.

    • bjmack

      Whether it’s 5% of 10% the internet is bringing information to Cuba. Change, is inevitable as intelligent folk will not tolerate this insanity.

    • Nick

      Whatever happen in Cuba, it should be for Cuba to decide.
      Hopefully it will not be influenced by any ‘renewed pressure’ instigated by a bunch of right wing cranks in Miami and backed up by your current rogue president.
      The USA is one of the most fascinating places I have ever been to.
      Despite some of it’s bullying foreign policies, the USA has traditionally been regarded as a positive influence on the world as compared to places such as Russia or North Korea.
      Unfortunately this is not currently the case. The developed world is increasingly bracketing your president with some of the other ‘loonies’ in the world.
      Kim Jong Un and trump are surely two sides to the same coin?
      How things change huh?
      However it’s most reassuring that some things don’t change:
      Regardless of the current picture, you’re still singing from the same old faded songbook.
      Regardless of the absurdity of the current US President, you still ‘parrot’ his policies and make your comical comments about ‘democratic standards’.
      Hilarious once again Mr P.

      • Moses Patterson

        Even Trump, who is an embarrassment on so many levels, has no more than 4, God forbid, 8 years to f*ck things up. The Castros have had 58 years and counting. I certainly do not parrot Trump policies. If anything, he parrots MY policy. Keep in mind that he is without a personal moral or political compass.

        • Nick

          So trump ‘is without a personal moral or political compass’?
          And he parrots your policy does he?
          Cool.

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            Didn’t they teach you at school Nick that sarcasm – your particular talent, – is the lowest form of wit?

          • Nick

            You don’t like it when you and your buddy are caught out do you?You don’t like it when you’re one sided views are challenged.
            It’s very apparent. It shows in the way that you have no real comeback other than to resort to snide little insults.

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            It was only an observation upon your talents Nick.

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            Incidentally Nick, you’re is an abbreviation for ‘you are’. You ought to have written ‘your’. Similarly, your previous response of a couple of days ago – the one where you say that you are neither for or against communism, but regard those who are either as “fundamentalist” ought I think to commence: “I am pleased…”
            I am pleased to be what you describe as “fundamentalist” in that I believe in and support freedom and liberty. One day you may hop off your supposed “balanced” fence and the confusion of not knowing what you believe, and understand the evil of communism. Alternatively you can jump onto a London bus and worship at the shrine of Marx in Highgate Cemetery.

          • Nick

            Many thanks for the spelling correction.
            I do not share your views on ‘good’ and ‘evil’.
            I have no confusion over this. It is abundantly clear to me that to label some systems of governance as good and others as evil is very narrow. Perhaps you are of a religious persuasion which would explain the terminology.
            Not possible to jump on a London bus from where I live but I would regard Karl Marx as one of the greatest and most influential thinkers/academics in history.
            Obviously he had no control over the way in which his works were interpreted.

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            Socialists are always similar – excuses. How should Marx be interpreted Nick? Don’t dither – explain why what he wrote is misinterpreted and by whom?

          • Moses Patterson

            Nice try. Reread my comment. Use a dictionary if you have to.

          • Nick

            Hilarious again Mr P.

    • Gary

      There is no option to socialism. Capitalism is a backward society, even animal spirits have more ethics than american military corporate socialism. Too much greed, even animals will not kill more than necessary. I don´t know where you find that great society to tell the cubans to throw away socialism, without the bloqueo, there would be the posibility to get rid of two currency system much faster which is the essential problem of Cuba. Completely distorted price system due to subsidies.

      • Moses Patterson

        “There is no option to socialism.” Then God help us all.

        • Wayne Pitchko

          The option is democratic socialism….it works

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            Where Wayne?

      • Carlyle MacDuff

        I have to admire the way in which you packed so much rubbish into your contribution Gary. Firstly socialism was correctly described by Churchill when he said:
        The inherent vice of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.”
        As for animals only killing that which is necessary, have you ever seen the consequences of a fox in a chicken coop or of a coyote in a flock of sheep?
        The US blockade upon Cuba was lifted in 1962 following Khruschev removing the USSR nuclear weapons from Cuba – the ones that Fidel Castro urged him to use in an initial strike upon the USA.
        The two currency system which you properly criticize was a typical brain child of Fidel Castro, who hoped it would prevent Cubans from accessing any of the goodies available to tourists in GAESA subsidiary stores. Raul promised four years ago to revert to a single currency – but like most Castro promises that has not occurred.
        Finally to subsidies where I agree with you. My mother-in-law receives 200 pesos ($8) per calendar month. The permuta is:
        Rice 5 lbs 1.25
        Extra rice 2 lbs 1.80
        Beans 20 oz 1.60
        Oil 1/4 litre 0.20
        Refined sugar 3 lbs 0.45
        Crude sugar 1 lb 0.10
        Coffee 1 packet 5.00
        Matches 1 packet 0.10

        Total 10.50

        If you refer to a nutritionist you will find that at 1,800 calories per day, the monthly permuta provides for 18 days nutrition.

        Now with some knowledge of the reality of Cuba under the Castro’s you will understand why Cubans seek change from socialismo!

        Would you seek similar socialist conditions for yourself?

  • N.J. Marti

    The economic model either gets liberalized or it collapses. Repression is going to be counter productive.

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    This is communism in practice. Those who pursue it inevitably end up with dictatorship. Change is impossible because it is unacceptable and counter to Marxism/Leninism.
    Pedro Campos is correct in describing Castro communism as: “systematic violation of the general population’s civil, political and economic rights”. That violation has been pursued for fifty eight long dreary years of repression.
    In Venezuela first Hugo Chavez and them Nicholas Maduro have endeavored to emulate the supposed achievements of the Castros in a briefer period of time with catastrophic consequences. Unlike Cuba which has experienced creeping paralysis, Venezuela has achieved economic paralysis in merely a dozen years. With inflation running at over 100% the only recourse for “socialismo” is to tighten the screws with only one concern, that of retaining power.
    There are those, some of whom contribute to these pages, who admire and support the Castros, Chavez and Maduro’s ‘socialismo’. It is noteworthy that they do not however seek it for themselves preferring to live under the capitalist system. They squawk about problems in the USA as if in justification of the persecution of the Cuban people by the Castro communist regime. I pity their lack of concern for others in pursuit of a mythical communist paradise.

    • Nick

      I pleased not to personally share your fundamentalist viewpoints either pro or anti communism.
      However when you dish up your usual hyperbole about ‘inevitabilities’ and good versus evil and so forth, I cannot help noticing that you never seem to mention China.
      (Other than the memorable occasion when you described Mao’s supernatural ability to introduce new policies from beyond the grave).
      Doing rather well over in China last time I looked?
      Surely they continued with many aspects of their system whilst implementing massive economic changes thus becoming the fastest growing economy in the world and in the process somewhat contradicting the main point of your comment?
      But Chinese success doesn’t really fit into your worldview does it?
      So let’s just pretend it never happened then shall we?

      • Carlyle MacDuff

        Why not concentrate your endeavors upon the ‘Beijing Times’ Nick?
        If your memory stretches, you may recall Fidel Castro’s views upon China and Vietnam adopting capitalism.

        • Nick

          Sorry old chap.
          Mentioned China’s success.
          The facts don’t match up with your views and remarks huh?
          Let’s keep the facts out of the debate then shall we?

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            China’s adoption of capitalism is factual, as is that of Vietnam Nick. The subsequent massive improvement in their economies is a consequence. It is factual to record Fidel Castro’s expressed criticism of the actions of both those countries in changing course from Marxism/Leninism.

          • Nick

            China is a one party state.
            That party is called the Communist Party.
            First you say that in countries with such systems of governance ‘change is impossible’.
            Now, because you have been caught out, you are backtracking and contradicting yourself.
            No surprises there.

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            China has abandoned Communism in favour of State Capitalism – maybe you were so busy being self-righteous you just didn’t notice Nick.

          • Nick

            You’ve been caught out again. This time by your own comments.
            You specifically stated that communism could not include change.
            Now, after having been grilled, you say the opposite and pretend that’s what you meant all along.
            It’s the usual story from Mr MacD.

        • Robert Lindsay

          Oh silly Carlyle! You reactionaries keep saying that China has adopted capitalism. What a stupid joke that is. You lie like all reactionaries. Reactionaries lie like they breath. They literally need to lie to live.

          Let me tell you something. China is one of the most Communist or socialist states on Earth today. Fully 45% of the Chinese economy is publicly owned, and it does extremely well. Much of the very high economic growth has come from the public sector. How on Earth can you say that China is capitalist when 45% of the economy is state-owned? How ludicrous.

          But realize that all public firms in China operate on the profit model. They all compete with each other, so you have a steel mill run by one city competing with a steel mill run by another city. Many of the fastest growing industries are run at the municipality level. Also China’s fully state-owned firms do very well. In fact, Republicans say that China’s public firms are “not fair” because American capitalist corporations can’t compete against them. The reason is that China’s firms get subsidies from the state. Poor capitalist corporations! They’re too inefficient to compete against Communist state owned firms. Poor babies!

          You realize that the state owns every single inch of land in China? How on Earth is that possible in a capitalist country. Capitalism is primarily based on the private ownership of land. No private ownership of land, no capitalism. Real simple.

          I also point out that the Chinese state spends an absolutely incredible amount of money on its people. Since 45% of the whole economy goes directly to the state, they have a heck of a lot of money to spend. And they spend it very wisely too.

          As I understand it, US capitalists believe in a minimal state and there is nothing they hate more than state spending. Huge state spending is seen as wasteful tax and spend policies by all capitalists on Earth. Wherever you have massive state spending, you do not have a capitalist system.

          But thank you for praising China, the finest example of modern Communism!

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            When Robert Lindsay can we expect a similar description of North Korea which I do not doubt you admire?
            I do regret that Mr. John Goodrich a dedicated socialist and like you, American who for several years almost daily recorded in these pages his disapproval of a variety of communist/socialist regimes failing to pursue “true socialism” but practicing “state capitalism”. That is one of the difficulties for socialist believers like yourself. You preach a very wide range of theories reflecting each of your own views upon what socialism actually is, but lacking any consistency because although claimed to be a good theory, socialism in practice eradicates individuality the very essence of humanity.
            Note, having described that 45% of China’s economy is state owned, you fail to speak of the other 55%.

  • Rich Haney

    This article, like many others, is a God-send for counter-revolutionary propagandists like Moses, Carlyle, etc. Such bias is reflected in the sheer fact that Revolutionary Cuba, from January of 1959 till July of 2017 and surely beyond those dates, has never been afforded a reasonable chance to set its own sovereign course. Chasing the vile Batista-Mafia dictatorship was surely a positive for the Cuban Revolution but it resulted in a massive negative for BOTH CUBA AND THE UNITED STATES and was the almost immediate and, it seems, eternal re-creation of the Batista-Mafia dictatorship on U. S. soil, namely Miami. The fact that the TWO cowardly and undemocratic mistakes — supporting first the Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba and then the Batistiano-Mafisoi dictatorship in America — have been allowed to infiltrate the bowels of the world’s greatest and strongest democracy HAS DEMEANED AMERICAN PERHAPS MORE THAN ANY OTHER THING OR EVENT, and substantiating that belief is the current 191-to-zero condemnation in the UN of America’s asinine Cuban policy — one dictated for six decades by right-wing Cuban and American thugs. But the major culprits, I believe, are the last two generations of Americans who have allowed it to happen and to persist because of sheer ignorance or pure undemocratic cowardice. Beyond that basis belief, I’ll now await the one-sided propaganda as delineated in this august forum by Moses and Carlyle.

    • Moses Patterson

      When I am as right as I am on this thread, there is little need to write too much and risk being seen as gloating. I will take issue with one sentence in your comment. You write “… HAS DEMEANED AMERICAN PERHAPS MORE THAN ANY OTHER THING OR EVENT”. Really? More than slavery, Jim Crow, Vietnam and now Donald Trump?

    • Dan Segal

      By ‘the last two generations of Americans’, do you mean two generations of American politicians? All Americans I hear from, speak with, or read about seem to want a more open and unfettered relationship with Cuba. My personal experience from a recent visit earlier this year is that that’s what most ‘regular’ people, the citizens, on both sides, want. It is astounding to me that Trump needs or wants South Florida political support so much that he allows Marco Rubio to dictate our Cuba policy? It’s such a tiny national minority that still seems to care much about whether or not we as a nation trade with, or allow our citizens to visit, Cuba. Personally again, it is a grave step backward for US citizens to accept restrictions on our travel. The irony is glaring. Our response to a country that restricts its people’s freedom is to restrict the freedom of our own people? Yet I can still visit China or Russia.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Face the truth Rich Haney. Note the title of the article above! Raul Castro is particularly well skilled in repression, he has been practicing it upon the people of Cuba for fifty eight years with methods including execution without trial, imprisonment without trial, jailing parents for teaching their own children in their own homes anything which is contrary to communism and bombarding them with propaganda from the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba. Villa Marista continues it’s function unimpeded, those who enter inevitably confess.
      Raul’s education in repression commenced in April 1953 during his visit to the USSR when he was introduced to Nickolai S. Leonov of the KGB. Following the revolution, the Castro regime introduced the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR) modeled on the notorious East German Stasi which was derived in turn from Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist system. If in need of advice, Raul could always refer to Leonov who became the KGB man in Havana. As previously discussed, Leonov was later Vladamir Putin’s boss in the KGB. The USSR was well practiced in repression with Stalin pursuing purges relentlessly.
      Pedro Campos neatly summarizes the root problem of the Castro regime’s history of economic incompetence when he writes of their:
      “inability to carry out essential political and economic changes to national policy.”
      Havana Times is about Cuba, you continuously endeavor to convert it to being a rag-bag of criticism of the US. Do note that I am not trying to absolve the US from its nonsensical policies, but at least it does not practice repression upon its citizens who are free to express their dissatisfaction with their government and to demonstrate – both of which activities are denied to Cubans.
      Oh! Can I hear you talking about the White Ladies? Just recall that the MININT goons beat them up!