Mac Margolis over at The Daily Beast wrote a good piece on Raul Castro’s modest economic and migratory reforms. In it, he asks:
Why have the promised changes been so slow and so timid? In a recent interview with NPR, Cuban-born sociologist Enrique Pumar, of Catholic University in Washington, D.C., blamed the stalled reforms on an encrusted mindset in Havana. While China and Vietnam are run by “new generations of leaders that have not experienced the revolution,” he said, Cuba is still in the hands of the same men who marched out of the Sierra Madre. Hence, Castro and his commissars have little enthusiasm for scrapping the rules…The result is a series of halfhearted reforms by old men in camouflage.
Mr. Margolis missed a key point. These old men have spent their entire lives justifying their iron grip rule and economic blunders as necessary measures to stave off “U.S. aggression”. It’s the only way they know to govern. As long as we maintain hostile relations toward them -meaning as long as Helms-Burton continues to dictate our Cuba policy- we’re giving them a raison d’être. And even when they must retire, they’ll look to their sexa- and septuagenerian comrades -loaded with capacious loyalty and little vision- to take their seats.
If we really want to see a new generation of leaders take over in Cuba, the United States should do its part by eliminating its isolationist policies toward the island, giving the younger generations a leg on which to rise up and the current leadership a reason to drop the fatigues and get out the way.