New President, Same Cuba

In April of this year, someone without the surname Castro took over the country’s leadership
for the first time since the triumph of the Revolution. However, expectations of change
among the Cuban people are almost non-existent.

Perhaps, it was because of his inauguration speech, in which Miguel Diaz-Canel made it
clear that “Raúl Castro Ruz, as First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, will spearhead
the most important decisions for the present and the future of the country” and that
“there will be no room for those who aspire a capitalist restoration “.

Or perhaps the illusion died out during the mandate of Raúl Castro, during which so much
was expected and so little changed. The phrases of Miguel Díaz-Canel mean little or nothing
for those who know the recent history of Cuba: Revolution, socialism, homeland,
historical moment, political vanguard … are anachronistic words and expressions so empty
that they no longer have any impact on Cuban society. Raul Castro’s reforms in recent years
have shown that it is possible to have some economic freedom without granting political
and social freedoms. While also preserving the patriarchal system in which men, Castro or
not, continue to hold positions of power. Nothing so far has led anyone to believe that things
can now be different.

In this issue, a journalist and a Cuban economist reflect on the new president Díaz-Canel
and the challenges that arise in the future of Cuba. Yanelis Núñez, organizer of #Bienal00,
the first biennial that has been held independently of the Cuban State, tells us in an interview
how free art develops on the island and how free it would be under the new president.

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Agnes Koleman has been visiting Cuban since 1997. She is long time admirer of Cuban people and hopes Cuba will soon will become a democratic country.