[Marxism] Cuban Dissident Oscar Esponosa Chepe compares and contrasts China and Cuba (MH)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Aug 11 09:02:38 MDT 2006


The author of this analysis in today's MIAMI HERALD was one of the
75 Cubans convicted of collaborating with Washington in the famous
trials of 2003. Interestingly, the HERALD omits that fact here.

Don't, perish the thought, take HIS word for it as to what Raul 
says and thinks. Raul hasn't exactly been shy. Here in Cuba they
keep on posting this same comment of his on the front page of the
daily granma website. It's probably not at all what Raul REALLY
thinks, is it? These Communists never say what they mean, do they?
http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/secciones/raul-45ejercito/raul03.html

Veteran Inner Circle Can Assist Raul Castro (Miami Herald, today):
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/53393


Walter Lippmann
Havana, Cuba
=================================================================

MIAMI HERALD
Posted on Fri, Aug. 11, 2006	
http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/opinion/15247787.htm

CUBA AND CHINA
Similarities and differences on power, economy

By OSCAR ESPINOSA CHEPE
espinosachepe at yahoo.com

HAVANA -- After President Fidel Castro's startling proclamation, in
which he announced his delicate state of health and the temporary
transfer of his duties to Raúl Castro, his prearranged substitute, a
series of possible scenarios for the future of Cuba has emerged.

One of the analyses more emphatically made is the possibility that,
if the president does not recover fully, his substitute at the helm
of Cuban society might promote, in the near future, economic reforms
that -- as in China and Vietnam -- will give political support to his
management by improving the currently low standard of living of the
population.

Similarities have arisen between the two distant countries in recent
decades because they were ruled for years by totalitarian regimes and
dominated at the apex by personalities who concentrated in their
hands an absolutely absolute power.

• In China, after the disappearance of Mao Zedong, a process of
economic aperture began with great difficulty, a process that has
brought real benefits to the population, including impressive
economic growth, although many of the totalitarian features remain
and the personality of ''The Great Helmsman'' continues to hover over
all. However, although sometimes subtly criticized, Mao continues to
be respected as the historic leader of the revolution.

• In Cuba, something similar could happen. With the departure from
power of Fidel Castro, the man who has totally filled the island's
history in 47 years, a path similar -- if not identical -- to the
Chinese road could open.

Raúl Castro is a man lacking his brother's charisma and political
stature but undoubtedly endowed with a pragmatic spirit and a sense
of organization that has been proven by his performance as armed
forces leader. He could choose to become a sort of Deng Xiaoping and
promote economic reforms with the objective of creating a political
base.

It should be stressed that the legacy Raúl Castro inherits in
economic and social terms is terrible. In Cuba, there is an
impressive decapitalization of tangible assets, and social
differences, among other ills, contradict the revolution's original
objectives. All this would happen within a very deteriorated
political framework, in which the powerful support of the people,
present for a long time, has been wearing out due to disappointment
over continued failures and unfulfilled promises.

These criteria can be corroborated by the statements that Raúl Castro
has been making for a while to the effect that Fidel Castro's only
true substitute is the Communist Party -- which might indicate a
radical change in the way to direct the country toward
more-collective forms of government.

Nor can we forget some positions taken by the armed-forces minister
during various times of crisis, when Raúl Castro's stance was
regularly characterized by flexibility and certain apertures to the
market, with an eye to preserving power.

We must not dismiss that, within the armed forces, there always have
existed innovative methods of action, different from those in the
civilian sector, that gave business leaders greater power to deal in
an increasing number of affairs. An effort was made to transfer that
mechanism to the whole of society via the Program for Entrepreneurial
Training in the mid-1990s, a set of measures that, while timid,
represented a step forward. As we all know, that came to a halt when
a decision was made to reverse the reforms that had been initiated.
At present, an inverse process of economic recentralization is in
effect.

Another aspect where we can see similarities, and specific
particularities, is that both China and Cuba have diasporas abroad
with solid economic positions.

• China's diaspora lives essentially in Taiwan and Hong Kong, the
latter an area China has incorporated into its territory while
maintaining its capitalistic economic and political system. Those
territories today represent robust sources of direct investment and
technology, and, in a way, have an indirect political influence on
the mainland.

• Cuba, too, has large nuclei abroad, mainly in the United States,
where Cubans stand out for their industriousness and creative
ability. They represent a potential of singular magnitude that, as in
the case of China, could contribute notably to the island's
development with their financial resources and, most important, with
their know-how and democratic experience.

The economic reforms could be an anteroom to political reforms. There
is a reason why the more conservative elements within government have
always refused to apply the Chinese and Vietnamese experiences,
concealing from the people what has happened in those two nations.

The fact that economic reforms could be instituted would in no way
limit the efforts of the Cuban democratic movement toward liberty and
an unrestricted respect for human rights.

On the contrary, better conditions could be created for the struggle
for those priority objectives, in a climate that might contribute to
relax the tensions between Cuba and the United States. That climate
would be a determining element in the equation for achieving the
society that most people desire: one reconciled above all ideologies,
without winners or losers.

Oscar Espinosa Chepe is an economist and independent journalist in
Cuba.



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