Sunday, February 24, 2008

The next generation will have to wait (Updated)

They stuck with the historicos.

There’s no surprise in Raul Castro’s election to the presidency, but the choice of Jose Ramon Machado Ventura as first vice president, and first in line of succession, was not predicted anywhere.

Machado, 77, is a veteran of the Sierra Maestra.

By his reputation, one would expect him to oppose an economic opening. On the other hand, if reforms are in store and he is in favor, then his election is a sign of consensus, across generations and ideological tendencies. As they say in the mutual fund business, past earnings are not a guarantee of future performance.

What matters for the welfare of the Cuban people, and for Cuba’s political dynamics in the year to come, are actions and results. Cuba’s government has spent the past 18 months diagnosing economic problems, evaluating policy ideas, and raising expectations that economic policy will change. This year, the government will either deliver, or disappoint.

Granma article here. Machado’s PCC bio here.

[Update: Among the points in Raul’s speech: he wants to streamline the bureaucracy, he refers to a study about “a progressive, gradual, and prudent revaluation of the Cuban peso, and “in the coming weeks” we will see elimination of some of the prohibitions that he called “excessive” last December.

If he ends the dual currency system, he will eliminate the most widespread grievance; most Cubans’ salaries don’t allow them to afford the basic necessities that they must buy in hard currency. As for the “prohibitions,” that may be the most interesting signal because he is promising action in the near term. Currency reform has been on the agenda for years.]


Anonymous said...

I do not expect much from these old guys. All they want is to preserve power. The dual currency issue will take time, as RC himself said today. He will lift "the most simple restrictions" he said. Perhaps Cubans will be allowed to stay where foreigners stay: hotels. Perhaps they will be allowed to rent cars etc. But he made clear that allowing Cubans to leave and reenter the country, will take a change in laws and will depend on relations with the USA. At least, that is what I understood. The main message was: Fidel is still the man and he will decide where it matters the most. NO change.

Sharpshooter said...

The "historicos" are still in charge of everything. Gee, why am I not surprised?. The gerentocracy that rules Cuba will never give up power until Ms. Death comes to call on every one of them. Same thing as in the now defunct (thank God for that) old USSR. Raul Castro is more of the same thing as F.C., only just 4 years younger.

theCardinal said...

My only guess on the Machado pick is this - Raul is trying to buy himself time. He wants the focus on the here and now and not on what will be. Machado will obviously not succeed him so the horserace for the future will continue. It should also be noted that by adding Machado Raul keeps the hardliners in house - assuming he really is a pragmatist.

Sure I still want Raul dead on a stick but a surprisingly crafty move on his part.

Omar Cruz said...
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