Cuban Transition

Years ago–in the 1990s–my wife and I were visiting with friends in Havana. In their modest apartment sanctuary of privacy and candor–amid lives that were being underlived–one of them acknowledged that the only thing that would truly be a game-changer for the island they loved would be the “biological solution.” That was the ironically respectful euphemism for the death of the Castro brothers. Only then could there be meaningful change.

I reflected on that experience during the recent transition in Cuba where Raúl Castro turned over the presidency to Miguel Díaz-Canel, 57. But the 86-year-old Castro will remain at the helm of the Communist Party, the country’s ultimate authority, until 2021. That’s three more years of being the de facto authoritarian. Díaz-Canel and the rubber stamp National Assembly know that.

No one expects a dysfunctional economy that’s out-of-sync with economic reality and human initiative and features $30-a-month state salaries to now morph into a real marketplace.

After 2021, Castro would still be the revolutionary, iconic elephant in the room–until the “biological solution.” That’s what it will take to ultimately usher in an era that no longer prioritizes Cold War ideology and anti-capitalist swagger over a better 21st century life for its people.

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