2016, Expect the Unexpected

El presidente Raúl Castro en la inauguración del VI Congreso del Partido Comunista de Cuba
President Raul Castro at the inauguration of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba

The current first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba turns 85 in 2016 and, if re-elected at the Seventh Congress to be held in April, he will be seated in an unacceptable precedent, because at that age it is only appropriate to lead a circle of grandparents.

Although the First Party Conference, held in January 2012, did not specify an age limit for a functionary to serve in a political or governmental post, it did establish “limits with regards to term and ages, according to the functions and complexity of each responsibility.”

As they say in the movies, “it’s nothing personal” against Raul Castro, it’s that the country doesn’t need to re-experience the disruptions of mid-2006, when ill health prevented the then “Maximum Leader” from continuing to rule the nation.

In his speech at the Sixth Congress, Raul Castro warned that this would probably be the last with the presence of the “historic generation.” And in the Seventh Congress that warning would be a source of major drama. The risk now run by the octogenarians, is that the longer they delay in passing the baton, the more probable an unexpected rupture.

It is hard to believe that the Communist Party of Cuba does not have a single member under 65 (or even under 70), with sufficient capacity to assume the leadership of the organization. Perhaps it is not just about intellectual preparation, indispensible for a “correct application of Marxist-Leninist theory to the revolutionary practice,” nor the experience accumulated in “direct work with the masses,” nor should there be a scarcity of virtues such as integrity, diligence, capacity for teamwork, and others that are in demand in these cases. Most likely it is a lack of confidence that the anointed one would want to maintain continuity. It’s enough to look at what Raul Castro himself has done with the legacy of his brother to imagine the changes that would be introduced by a man without so much ballast.

Obviously, the optimal would be the Communist Party renouncing its constitutionally mandatory hegemony, and opening the opportunity to other political tendencies, but that is another topic.

The year 2016 will be terminal for Raul Castro, at least according to the Chinese horoscope, because on 8 February the Year of the Goat will end, which is the sign under which he was born in 1931. Now begins the Year of the Monkey, whose motto is, “I am the unexpected.”


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