7
Political Changes and Social Attitudes in Cuba During the Special Period: Implications

J. Richard Planas

Fidel Castro has stated numerous times in recent years that Cuba will not make political concessions during the "Special Period in Times of Peace." Nevertheless, the regime has officially approved reforms that carry a calculated risk while allowing other changes to take place unofficially. Some changes are already being experienced by the population; others appear to be in the planning stages. There are still others of which, although they have been approved, there is little awareness of their implications because the regime has failed to publicize them adequately. Many of these changes are less perceptible to the eye of the casual observer and have gone unreported in the Western media, yet they encompass significant social and political implications that heighten understanding of Cuba today.

Among the most significant changes are the recent constitutional modifications approved in July 1992. While these modifications do not necessarily translate into immediate visible political changes, they represent a potential basis for evolutionary or revolutionary transformations in the island, depending on the level of political activism and infighting they inspire. Anomic social attitudes, such as acquiescence, resignation, and escapism, present to some degree throughout the revolutionary period, have now become more prominent and are retarding both the peace and the level of change in Cuba.

These changes and the anomic attitudes in Cuba today are the result of the need to cope with severe difficulties under Castro's Special Period. The circumstances that led to these changes and to the pronounced development of these social attitudes were heavily influenced by the political and ideological collapse of the socialist bloc and Cuba's subsequent loss of preferential treatment by Moscow following the disintegration of the Soviet Union. As a result, Cuba embarked on the Special Period. This stage of the Cuban Revolution may be seen as the transition process of a nation that was ideologically, politically, and economically interrelated with a system that was

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