Sunday, October 06, 2013

Cuba Reconciliation

There was a conference about reconciliation in Cuba, using Germany as a comparative example. This is an important and difficult topic.

One problem, though, is that the quotes in the article in addition to the German case study assume collapse. This is not surprising since the audience seems mostly to have been Cuban Americans, and even the former East German speaking there had been a dissident.

But the dissolution of the Soviet Bloc was a very different situation. Germany reunified because the Soviet Union was losing its grip. Cuba right now has no such power dominating it and even survived the Special Period. We cannot assume it will fall apart. You cannot rule out collapse: if the Venezuelan opposition takes power, Cuba will take an enormous economic hit. When both Castros are gone, there are a lot of question marks about political continuity (Nicolás Maduro's performance trying to replace Hugo Chávez underlines this).

However, the thrust of the message seemed to be how winners treat losers. That is fine if that's how it plays out, but it's not clear to me that Cuba's eventual transition will look like East Germany's.


Anonymous,  9:18 AM  

The Cuban government may stagger on for a while longer. It may also suffer a sudden collapse. No one on the island appears to have the hold on the bureaucracy quite like the Hermanos Castro. The notion that Venezuela will continue the level of economic support seems tenuous even for Maduro's government. Every day technology and tourism make the "island under siege from imperialism" mentality harder to maintain. The disintegration process would accelerate with a greater pace of government reforms and a more imaginative policy of engagement from the US government. The case for suddenness would seem to be the same as in Eastern Europe. The people know full well what they don't want--central economic planning and undemocratic elections. All it takes is a Cuban reformer to understand that the government should depend on the consent of the people and initiate the changes.

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