Fidel Castro has died. The mythic figure has died. The event will be discussed for a long time and from many points of view. Nine days of mourning has been decreed in Havana, the flag is at half mast; in Miami they are partying, the same Cuban flag held high.
The Fidelistas mourn, the anti-Fidelistas party. The vast majority of the island’s population, eager for changes, are waiting. It could not be any other way. Since the attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953, Fidel Castro’s imprint on Cuba shapes our days. The government is ready to maintain total control over the streets. Its mass organizations are mobilized to prevent and counteract any demonstrations against him.
But like the myth, his charisma and his influence are not inherited. We can affirm that a political cycle in Cuba has ended: the eclectic sum of conceptions that make up Fidelism, populism, authoritarianism, neo-Stalinism, statism and bureaucratism, just received a mortal blow. A stage of inevitable changes opens.
Raul Castro, since he assumed power in 2006, promised to undertake important reforms, replaced many officials, and began dictatorially implementing a set of measures that he consolidated and expanded in both Cuban Communist Party Congresses held since then, but without establishing a legal framework that guarantees them.
During these years, the bureaucracy, laws, regulations and customs of Fidelism, established over almost 60 years, have prevented such reforms from being fully deployed.
Cuba is facing inevitable changes. The death of the mythic figure favors them. The Cuban people also demand them.
Raul Castro now has the opportunity to demonstrate whether his reformist proposals are real or were just a deliberate attempt to counter the resistance within the system and seek international recognition and funding.
Cuba’s economic situation requires that the changes set forth by Raul be deepened and expanded, that all state monopolistic barriers to domestic and foreign markets for capital investment, enterprise development and productive initiatives of all kinds be broken.
However, it does imply that the Fidelistas abandon their positions in the government and the Party and that many regulations and customs of traditional statism be removed. This will be very difficult if, in parallel, there is no democratization process that permits deep criticism of the Fidel regime, the adoption of new forms of organization in the economy and politics, and the emergence and development of new entrepreneurs and unprejudiced leaders at all levels the society.
Cuba is facing inevitable changes. The death of the mythic figure favors them. The Cuban people also demand them. Everyone, those inside and those outside, regardless of their political ideas, must have the right to participate in the reconstruction of the nation. Achieving it more or less peacefully will depend on those who still hold power in Cuba.
It is time to assume, with decency, José Martí’s homeland: With all and for the good of all.