Raul Castro said he wanted a debate. He told Cubans and young Cubans in particular that he wanted them to speak out, and they are obliging. National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon is the latest to find out.
Someone passed the BBC’s correspondent in
It’s well worth a listen.
One student complains that candidates for the National Assembly don’t visit the University: “Who are they? Where did they come from?” Another complains that basic necessities are priced in hard currency and salaries are paid in Cuban pesos, worth “25 times less” than the convertible peso. There’s a call for more communication and interchange between government ministers and the people, so that the public can know how government is addressing problems and the people can be part of the solution.
Not included in the recording is a complaint that Cubans cannot travel freely abroad, but Alarcon’s answer is included, where he says that only a minority of people of any country travel internationally, and that Cubans travel based on merit rather than financial means, as was the case in the past. The story on the website reports that there were also questions about Internet access; Alarcon responded that he is not up to speed on that question.
What does this mean? I’m interested to know what readers think, especially those who know about the kind of debates
Not having been there, I’m hesitant to draw big conclusions. Events such as this could be a sign of a government that’s out of touch. Or they could mark a government that is confident that it can brook criticism, that benefits from an airing of criticism within the system, and has some responses up its sleeve. Time will tell.