Expert: Cuba Measures are a Sign of Strength Not Weakness
Cuba crackdowns are a sign of perceived strength
Special to the Orlando Sentinel
May 14, 2006
In a recent Los Angeles Times article about Fidel Castro's push to preserve his legacy, a group of U.S. scholars analyzed the Castro government's latest crackdowns on corruption and capitalist practices in Cuba. They fairly pointed out that Cuba's campaign against petty theft and black market activities as well as rollbacks of the timid economic reforms implemented in the early 1990s are part of a general strategy to increase efficiency, stem income inequalities in the society, and rally people around socialist ideals.
Regardless of their merits and likelihood for success, these actions represent an attempt by the island's authorities to preserve the anti-capitalist legacy of Castro, who will turn 80 in August, and breathe new life into the egalitarian precepts of his revolution.
What struck me the most in the article was a comment by Caleb McCarry, the U.S. State Department's Cuba transition coordinator, who depicted the crackdowns as "a sign of weakness and fear on the part of the regime." While the U.S. official might be correct in his prediction that Castro's efforts will fail to stir up the revolutionary fervor among Cubans, he provided an interpretation of the current situation on the island that is clearly out of touch with reality. His portrayal is at least as misguided as Washington's repeated claims that the present regime in Havana is on the verge of collapse and that U.S. sanctions are hastening a democratic transition on the island.
A government might show signs of distress or debility when it is forced to introduce changes it stoutly resists as a result of severe economic problems, domestic and external pressure, or a combination of these factors. But how can one say this is the case when a government is re-centralizing the overall economy, increasing its control over society, and practically backtracking on several reforms it would have never implemented under different conditions?
This is an indication of perceived strength, not weakness.