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  HOME | Cuba

Scholar Rules Out Social Upheaval in Cuba over Economic Woes

MIAMI – Cubans are too “intimidated” by the communist regime to rebel over the measures announced to deal with the grave economic crisis the island is going through, a U.S. analyst told Efe Monday.

Jaime Suchlicki, director of the University of Miami’s Institute of Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, said that former President Fidel Castro and younger brother Raul – the current head of state – do not expect the situation to cause a “popular uprising.”

“I don’t believe a popular rebellion will take place – people are highly controlled by the security apparatus and many are waiting to leave the country – there are a lot of people who want to get out – or for a change coming from above,” the Cuban-born professor said.

Raul Castro announced last Saturday in an address to the National Assembly that Cubans will have to suffer more cuts in social services to deal with the economic crisis.

The president recently reduced the availability of food that Cubans can obtain with their ration cards, a measure Suchlicki says would not have been taken if “there existed any concern about popular unrest.”

As for the Cuban government’s readiness to enter into talks with the United States, the academic said that the problem lies in the fact that the Castro brothers don’t want to carry out political changes that would lead to Cuba abandoning the communist system and embracing democracy.

“He (Raul Castro) is not willing to do that,” he said.

The Cuban leader said over the weekend that he was willing to talk with Washington about “everything,” but without giving up the revolution that his older brother helped bring about.

“I was not elected president to restore capitalism in Cuba, or to surrender the revolution. I was elected to defend, maintain and continue perfecting socialism,” Raul Castro said.

Raul Castro was handed Cuba’s presidency on Feb. 24, 2008. He initially served as interim president after Fidel was stricken with a severe intestinal illness in July 2006.

In an analysis before the latest announcements by the Cuban government, Suchlicki said that all the United States has to offer Cuba are some additional tourists, investments that the Castros fear could subvert Havana’s control of the economy and products that can be bought more cheaply from other countries.

“Nor can the United States supply Cuba with the oil that Venezuela sends at a low price with a long time to pay. At the same time, Venezuela, Iran, Russia and China send aid unconditionally. Those regimes ask little of Cuba,” he said.

But if the United States did begin negotiations with Cuba, the regime would want an end to the ban on travel, an end to the 47-year-old trade embargo, and reparations for the $50 billion in losses Cuba blames on the decades of economic sanctions.

Havana would also demand the release and return of the five Cubans tried and convicted for espionage and Cuba’s removal from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

In exchange, the Cuban government would be willing to pay compensation for U.S. properties confiscated after the revolution and would free most of its roughly 205 political prisoners “if they would be accepted by the United States,” Suchlicki said. EFE

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