The end of the Cuban era?Raul Castro’s exit is “more the same” for Miami asylum seekers


Enrique Iglesias left Cuba two years ago for a better life. From Uruguay to Guyana, I trekked across the Amazon jungle and Central America to the Mexican-US border, where I sought asylum.

He had just arrived at Cutler Bay in South Miami-Dade after being released from detention, so he hadn’t heard of it. Raul Castro retires From official Cuban power at 89.

What was the reaction of 36-year-old Iglesias? rare. For Cubans on the island and Miami, he predicted that the fallout from the news that Castro would retire from the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba would be exactly the same.

“I left Cuba for people like Raul Castro and Diaz Cannell,” he referred to the Cuban president and presumed Miguel Diaz Cannell, the successor to Castro. “Every day there is more misery and they continue the same old political nonsense.”

The understated reaction of Iglesias was common in Cuba and the Cuban-American Miami. From Little Havana to Westchester and Miami, the community shrugged one giant group with an announcement in Havana.

Once, the exit from the stage Castro brothers who stood at the end -The subject of extremely harsh criticism by thousands of people expelled from their homeland for 62 years may have prompted heartfelt relief and the excitement of a change of power.

But when it finally arrived, it was a very anti-climax. Five years after Fidel Castro’s death, the long-anticipated transition to a seemingly smooth-looking young Castro’s disciple instead caused almost, if not indifference, resignation and irony.

The homepages of Telemundo Miami 51, Univision and Diario las Americas, the main sources of Spanish news, filled the news, if any. Much more attention came to the 60th anniversary of the failed US-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion. This happened on Saturday. This is a fact pointed out on both sides of the Straits of Florida.

In Havana, during the 8th Communist Party of Cuba, where Castro announced his retirement, the invasion was called a “terrorist attack” and the troops who repelled it were welcomed, and in Miami, the surviving Bay of Pigs veterans were welcomed as heroes. Was done. Signs of a permanent, seemingly unbridgeable division between the two Cuba.

Ra & # xfa; l Castro at the opening ceremony of the Cuban Communist Party Congress in Havana on Friday, April 16, 2021.

Raul Castro at the opening ceremony of the Communist Party of Cuba Convention in Havana on Friday, April 16, 2021.

Even the news that Castro had abandoned formal power was cast in completely different words on each side.

Hardline asylum Babel blog The expected successor was called the “Kabuki Theater,” and he ridiculed the coverage of mainstream media around the world with “theatrical wrapping.” A blog post by Alberto de la Cruz was posted on Saturday, claiming that the real power would remain with Castro and his son, Alejandro Castro, an influential colonel of Cuban intelligence.

“Nothing important has changed in Cuba, the Castro family remains in control, but the truth does not generate clicks or traffic,” the blog said.

The transfer of the title of Cuba’s Communist Party chief makes no substantial difference to Armand Soto, 46, who settled in Miami from Matanzas, Cuba 10 years ago. He still said he had to send monthly remittances to his loved ones on the island.

“Whether it’s Diaz Canel or Raul Castro, I have to keep sending money to my family so they can survive until the end of the month,” he said.

Raul Castro succeeded in exercising undisputed power until the age of 90, simply prolonging many of the most determined enemies in the asylum community and their dream of returning to free Cuba someday. The modest reaction to retirement in Miami reflects the widespread perception that Castro may retire in Oriente, but the authoritarian nation created by him and his brother Fidel Castro also lasts longer than him. There is a possibility.

In fact, Castro and Diaz Cannell themselves are very much to emphasize on Friday, the first day of the Communist Party of Cuba’s four-day parliament, that the economic reforms enacted by the government do not mean easing authoritarian control. I had a hard time. If anything, they signal the opposite and approve measures to limit Cubans’ access to social media and the Internet prior to the event, while all but the smallest companies are run by the government. Emphasized.

Under the reforms enacted by Castro during his presidency, Cubans enjoyed nearly free online access for the first time, and enjoyed the freedom and uncensored information that the administration condemned increased social unrest and street protests. Diaz Cannell became president in 2018, and Raul Castro maintained a stronger role as the party’s first secretary.

Indeed, some people in Miami Castro dynasty Even if they saw Raul’s retirement as largely symbolic, they seemed to be at hand.

Juan Pena, 86, who arrived in Versailles daily at Cafe Cito on Saturday afternoon, said Diazcanel was clearly a doll that moved the party line one inch on his toes, but “at least he was killing people. No, “he said.

For Peña, who left Cuba in 1965, a veteran revolutionary leader in power and an ally of Castro’s army will prevent meaningful changes in the medium term. But what can change is people’s perception of the strength of the regime that Castro is not in command, he said.

He said it would bring some slender hope to those who have long waited for a real change in Cuba.

“The Cubans are not as afraid or respected as Raul Castro and Fidel in front of Diaz Canel. It may bring about some changes. It may bring about the people of the island. It may be bold, “said Penha, known as” El Presidente “by leading a group of senior Cuban-Americans who meet regularly in Versailles for coffee and pastries.

While young Cuban Americans also see civil society as a major force of change, social media is a fuel that helps islanders demand better living conditions. For Avi Vizoso, who is studying English at Miami Dade College, the real revolutionary is the younger generation, where the socialist revolution never worked.

Avi Vizoso, a student at Miami Dade College, will have Cuban coffee at the Versailles restaurant in Miami on Saturday, April 17, 2021.

Avi Vizoso, a student at Miami Dade College, will have Cuban coffee at the Versailles restaurant in Miami on Saturday, April 17, 2021.

“Castro can leave if he wants, it’s not really a surprise, and at the end of the day it doesn’t change anything. Their story is that of an old administration that never worked,” says Bizoso. I did. “It’s time for a new story.”

The reaction to Raul Castro’s retirement is Voluntary celebration It erupted in 2016 after the death of his brother Fidel Castro. After midnight, a crowd gathered on the street, hitting pots and pans, unplugging champagne, and chanting in the morning.

After Fidel Castro's death, hundreds of Cuban Americans gather in front of the Versailles restaurant in Little Havana, Miami.

After Fidel Castro’s death, hundreds of Cuban Americans gather in front of the Versailles restaurant in Little Havana, Miami.

But by that time, Cubans and Cuban-Americans knew that they wouldn’t expect big changes either. Hope may have risen temporarily when Fidel Castro fell ill and handed over power to his younger brother, his talented and loyal deputy commander since the Cuban Revolution. But after Raul took office as President Diaz Cannell in 2018, emphasizing plans to pass on to the younger generation, starting with replacing people in other major administrations with hardline supporters, more deadly expectations. It has increased.

For some asylum leaders, Raul Castro’s announcement that he would relinquish all remaining formal power during the opening remarks at the Havana Party Convention did not cause indifference. It caused anger.

Republican Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar called Castro’s announcement a “fake” and a “plan to deceive the international community.” In her statement, she emphasized in a statement that the rapid increase in desperate people leaving the island by various means, including rafts, would hardly change or could change while the communist regime was in place. doing.

“Today, the brutal Castro administration is pretending to fool the international community by looking like a change in Cuban Island, but it’s just a complete and complete farce.” Cuban-American Salazar Said. “This is a false, pathetic transfer of power to the exact same murderous and corrupt monster that has destroyed the island for the past 62 years.”

The transfer of power occurs when the Cuban economy is in serious crisis after the COVID-19 pandemic has extinguished tourism and significantly reduced its income to the island.

The abolition of the dual currency system, which was approved 10 years ago but only this year, led to a surge in inflation, but salaries did not rise at the same rate.Empty shelves in state-owned supermarkets and more aggressive repression of dissent are fueling frustration, and Early civil society in Cuba We use social media to express our opposition to the one-party state.

For many Cuban watchers, Raul Castro could retain considerable influence over national affairs, despite his own promise to simply become “another revolutionary combatant” when he retires. .. The country’s first civilian president since the revolution is considered a loyal bureaucrat who has approached the party’s ideology.But the island’s dire economy also means that leaders are under pressure. Come up with a quick solution..

“Even if Diaz Cannell tends to plan another course, his ability to do so is probably Raul Castro is still alive. ” Eric Farnsworth, Vice President of the American Council in Washington. “So I still don’t know how flexible Diaz Cannell is, or frankly, how much he wants to have. “

On Saturday, April 17, 2021, people line up for Cuban coffee at the Versailles restaurant in Little Havana, Miami.

People line up for Cuban coffee at the Versailles restaurant in Little Havana, Miami, on Saturday, April 17, 2021.

From his place in Versailles, Peña has seen a steady decline in asylum seekers of his generation as the years go by. He doesn’t like to think too much about the revolution, and he doesn’t like to stick to the subject matter that brings sadness. He believes that change will only occur when the Cubans decide to overthrow the government.

“The truth is that these so-called leaders do nothing for people,” he said. “There is a lot of frustration and it’s different from what happened before. It’s much worse.”

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