3 Where Does Cuba Stand?

Enrique A. Baloyra


A RIDDLE

Is Cuba different? Ever since the fall of the Berlin wall in November 1989, and particularly since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in summer 1991, predictions about the imminent collapse of the Castro regime have been more frequent. 1

Scholars and analysts agree that the regime confronts its worst crisis ever and that it can not possibly escape it unscathed. 2 By this they do not mean that the regime will inevitably fall, only that in order to avoid more catastrophic alternatives, including widespread violence or outright civil war, the historic revolutionary leadership must innovate considerably more than it has ever been willing to. Indeed, it appeared that in order to prevent a complete national collapse that would destroy the regime, the leadership had already introduced changes that it would normally have refused to consider.

If the Cuban leadership is acting under duress, why have we not witnessed more dramatic developments? If social and economic conditions are so harsh and growing worse, why have people not gone into the street to march and protest? Why are we yet to witness domestic political opposition effectively challenging the regime? Why have the leaders in the so-called left wing of the Cuban Communist Party refrained from expressing their criticisms and disagreements in public? Why have the armed forces apparently remained loyal? Is Cuba unique? 3

Some could argue that the Cuban system of domination is so perfect, so omnipresent, and so omnipotent that, as many of the characters in the plays of Vaclav Havel claimed, "There is no alternative but to submit." Others would claim that the regime still enjoys a fair amount of foundational legitimacy and that the government is firmly in control of the situation and capable

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