The debate is all the more complicated because the same leaders who rejected capitalism for so long are now the ones trying to encourage people to try it out,” The New York Times reports:
Raúl Castro was notoriously the revolution’s most loyal Communist; now, as the country’s president, he is the main booster for free market reforms. On one hand, a recent gathering of Cuba’s Communist Party earlier this year included a session on overcoming prejudices against entrepreneurs; on the other, Raúl Castro has said he would “never permit the return of the capitalist system.”
“They are kind of schizophrenic,” says Ted Henken, a Cuba expert at Baruch College. “They are saying they are changing, but they treat these things as gifts and not as rights.”
Instead, when success arrives, the government seems to get nervous. This past summer, officials shut down a thriving restaurant and cabaret featuring opera and dance in what had been a vacant lot, charging the owner with “personal enrichment” because he charged a $2 cover at the door. A news article from Reuters had described it as Cuba’s largest private business. A few days later, it was gone, along with 130 jobs.
“The Castro government has tried to keep a lid on innovation in other ways, too,” The Times reports:
It has not allowed professionals like lawyers and architects to work for themselves. And its efforts at political repression have focused over the past few years on innovative young people seeking space for civil discourse in public and online — the blogger Yoani Sánchez, or Antonio Rodiles (above), director of an independent project called Estado de Sats, who was arrested in early November and released last week after 18 days in jail.
The attempt to forge a Market-Leninist regime along the lines of China and Vietnam appears to be failing, say analysts.
“The government has lost the ideological battle,” said Óscar Espinosa Chepe, a state-trained economist who was sent to jail in 2003 for criticizing the government. “The battle for ideas was the most important battle, and they’ve lost.”
Capitol Hill Cubans report that a 15-year old girl, Berenice Héctor González, suffered a knife attack for supporting the female pro-democracy movement, The Ladies in White.
According to Diario de Cuba, the attacker, Dailiana Planchez Torres, is the daughter of a senior Castro regime official in the town of Cienfuegos.
As a result, Berenice was attacked and cut in the face, neck, breast and legs. She received 66 stitches for her injuries. The attacker remains free.