Old Gives Way to New in Havana

Old Gives Way to New in Havana

The photo illustrates the changes and the conflicts that Cuba faces. The new modern double bus in front of the shabby, run down buildings with tattered clothes hanging out to dry. This contrast of the old with the new was made even more dramatic this past Sunday when Raul Castro announced that this term would be his last. It is a five yer term and it is not clear that he will survive until 2018 or that he will not have to join Pope Benedict in cloistered retirement.

Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez was named second in command and presumably first in line of succession as leader. Already the Cuban American contingent is complaining that this is not democracy but a perpetuation of the dictatorial socialist regime. That seems fairly obvious and also predictable. There will be many firsts though-a middle aged leader-not a wet behind the ears amateur as there was post Revolution, and not some old stodgy Revolutionary as there has been mostly ever since. Canel Bermúdez is an engineer, presumably he understands how to make things work, he has served his obligatory time in the military, and he is from an area of Cuba that was a hot bed of the resistance to the status quo during the Revolution. This will be the first time since 1959 that a Castro has not been in charge! Raul has shown that he is more moderate than Fidel although not so much or so fast as to satisfy the impatience of the anti-Castro contingent. Remember this group is well represented in the more rightward wings of our own Republican party which seems dedicated to nothing changing, ever. So they are already leading a confusing life (see Rubio, Marco). Still when you see the nice new Chinese bus that has replaced the noxious, uncomfortable camellos of the recent past, there is a less than subtle sign of forward movement.

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