Special Report: Cuba
by David De La Torre
In Revolution in retreat, The Economist, in a special report on Cuba, argues that whatever the intentions of its leaders may be, the island will slowly move toward capitalism. What remains unpredictable is whether Cuba’s Communist leaders will control the change or will the change lead to democracy.
Raúl Castro, who formally took over as Cuba’s president in February 2008 and as first secretary of the Communist Party in April 2011, is trying to revive the island’s moribund economy by transferring a substantial chunk of it from state to private hands, with profound social and political implications. He has abolished a few of the many petty restrictions that pervade Cubans’ lives. He has also freed around 130 political prisoners. His government has signed the UN covenants on human rights, something his brother had jibbed at for three decades. Repression has become less brutal, though two prisoners have died on hunger strikes. Cubans grumble far more openly than they used to, and academic debate has become a bit freer. But calls for democracy and free elections are still silenced. The Communist Party remains the only legal political party in Cuba. And Raúl Castro has repeatedly dashed the hopes of many Cubans that the hated exit visa, which makes it hard (and for some, impossible) to leave the country, will be scrapped. [more]