Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Seventh Communist Party Congress in Cuba: New boss same as the old boss

"Meet the new boss Same as the old boss" - The Who, Won't Get Fooled Again (1971) 

News bosses same as the old bosses: Dictatorship remains the same*
 The Seventh Communist Party Congress in Cuba was as eventful as the previous one.  Big news item from the Associated Press: Fidel Castro who is about to turn 90 says that he may die soon. The AP's journalism is auto-censored in order for the dictatorship to maintain their news bureau on the island and like in North Korea crosses the line of journalistic ethics on occasion to stay there. Nevertheless, reporting that a 90 year old may die soon as news is a bit of a stretch.

However it did not end there.

Raul Castro, age 84, was "re-elected" with 100% of the vote by the communist party as the First Secretary along with fellow regime hardliner Jose Ramon Machado Ventura (age 85) as Second Secretary. The rest of the line up, unsurprisingly, was all too familiar.

The international press also thinks it newsworthy that the Castro regime is attacking President Obama's visit to Cuba as "an attack on the foundation of our history, our culture and our symbols." Predictable and only newsworthy to someone not paying attention. President Obama has bent over backwards to bury the Cold War and the White House has even uninvited Cuban jazz great Paquito D'Rivera, a critic of the Castro dictatorship from playing The White House on International Jazz Day on April 30th so as perhaps not to offend the Cuban dictatorship.

What is newsworthy and what Capitol Hill Cubans has observed in this coverage is the difference in reaction by the press to attacks on the George W. Bush administration compared to the Barack H. Obama administration by the Castro regime.

What I said five years ago, in anticipation of the Sixth Communist Party Congress in Cuba is equally relevant today and explains the Castro regime's so-called "reforms":
If there is one lesson over the past 52 years it is that political considerations have priority over economic considerations in order to preserve the regime. When it is convenient to decentralize in order to survive the regime will do that as it did in the early 1990s and as it appears to be doing today. At the same time when things improve and regime survival depends on the re-centralization of economic control at the expense of economic growth as was the case in the late 1990s and through the 2000s they will do that as well, but the important consideration is that the Cuban people are tired of this regime and want change.
Meanwhile as the international press focuses on this non-story, human rights are worsening in Cuba and repression is spiking with acts of violence worsening. The Obama administration's policies are worsening the human rights situation around the world not just in Cuba. Small comfort to Cuban human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists that they are not alone in their increased suffering. Even smaller comfort that thanks to the new relationship with the United States, Cubans abroad, including US citizens, are being subjected to the Castro regime's discriminatory practices.
*Image taken from Capitol Hill Cubans

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