Raul Castro made it, but didn’t give a speech. This broke long precedent established by his brother, and it frustrated expectations of many that he would use his talk to define current policies more sharply.
Is there deep meaning here?
I don’t think so. Raul Castro is plainly not concerned about oratory; he gives fewer speeches, and for much shorter durations, than his brother. Today he went so far as to have his #2 and the local party chief give the speeches while he watched and later handed out some awards. He clearly doesn’t view July 26 as an occasion that requires a major policy address. Last year he gave a much more interesting and substantive speech a few days after the 26th than he did at the July 26 ceremony itself.
The top-ranking official to speak was Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura. (Granma coverage here, Reuters story here.) “We will proceed with a sense of responsibility, step by step, at the rhythm we determine, without improvisation or haste so as not to make mistakes,” Reuters quoted him during his economic discussion. “We will not conduct ourselves by campaigns of the foreign press.”
As ever, actions are what count, and the coming months will tell if the lines of action already suggested – in state enterprises, government downsizing, agriculture, and more – are followed.
[Photo from Granma.]