Cuba seems to a key yr, with the top of Raúl Castro as chief of the Communist Celebration

The island faces nice adjustments in an unprecedented situation because of the emergence of social networks, which have opened new areas for dialogue and ideological confrontation

Like each January 1 since Fidel Castro got here down from the Sierra Maestra in 1959, the brand new yr involves Cuba filled with challenges and uncertainties. Three a long time have handed for the reason that begin of the Particular Interval, the intense disaster brought on by the disappearance of the Soviet Union – GDP fell by 35% in three years within the early nineties – and 2021 lands once more in the midst of a unprecedented state of affairs. delicate, the island suffocated by an acute lack of liquidity and a galloping scarcity, with a fall in GDP of 11% final yr and tourism virtually to zero because of the pandemic. On the horizon, a fancy financial reform to be achieved and a financial unification underway that can imply the top of a long time of egalitarian insurance policies and subsidies, which within the quick time period represents a extreme blow to the pocket of Cubans. Together with gigantic financial and social challenges, an unprecedented situation opens up in politics because of the huge irruption of social networks and the unfold of the web, which has made potential new areas for expression, ideological confrontation and citizen participation.

There are numerous components that make 2021 a key yr for Cuba. In April, the VIII Congress of the Communist Celebration of Cuba (PCC) shall be held, by which Raúl Castro, 89, will go away the publish of First Secretary. It was Raúl who inspired his alternative within the nation’s presidency by the 60-year-old engineer Miguel Díaz-Canel, and proposed a most of two phrases for senior positions, each within the State and within the Celebration, so with him they need to go away others historic, normally recognized with essentially the most orthodox positions.

The VIII Congress – which if it doesn’t present surprises will elect Díaz-Canel as the primary secretary of the PCC – is just not solely vital as a result of it’s the alternative, however as a result of it has to attract the strategic traces that can mark the future of the nation and of Cubans within the subsequent years. Strains that essentially undergo ending a long time of egalitarianism and articulating a technique of open-ended reforms that ought to promote the non-public and cooperative sector, SMEs and international funding, along with decentralizing financial decision-making, giving autonomy to state firms and strengthening to native administrations.

Already the VII Congress, in 2016, gave free rein to most of those transformations, however they have been postponed time and time once more, together with the financial reform that started on January 1, which suggests a pressured touchdown of Cuba in the actual financial system.

The devaluation of the forex and the financial unification (the convertible peso is eradicated and solely the Cuban peso will flow into) was identified to be problematic as a result of its social influence, the worth will increase, inflation and the appreciable discount within the buying energy of the individuals. However apparently nobody calculated the magnitude of the discomfort. The rise within the electrical energy invoice – which in some instances reached 500% -, within the worth of bread, gasoline, public transport and even ice cream on the well-known Coppelia ice cream parlor, nowadays prompted a tsunami of criticism – expressed primarily via social networks -, earlier than which the Authorities stopped and introduced that it’ll revise lots of the decreed charges downwards.

Economists christened January 1 the Day zero, as it’s the starting of a long-awaited reform and that every one financial actors contemplate important if Cuba needs to keep away from chapter and improve its productiveness. But in addition, in a approach, 2021 may be thought-about the 12 months Zero for different causes.

As excellent news, on January 20, Joe Biden will assume the presidency of the US, who has already introduced that he’ll resume the coverage of rapprochement with the island of the Obama administration and can elevate the sanctions imposed by Trump, which within the final 4 years has intensified notably the embargo and aggravated the hardships of the Cubans. The COVID-19 epidemic will mitigate the optimistic impact on the Cuban financial system of the return of North American tourism and the top of restrictions on direct flights, cruises and remittances, the primary measures that Biden might undertake. “In any case, even when Trump leaves, for Cuba any US administration is a problem, as demonstrated with the Obama thaw, which generated new challenges and resistance in essentially the most orthodox sectors,” observes a outstanding educational who prefers anonymity.

The peaceable demonstration that occurred on November 27 on the gates of the Ministry of Tradition (MINCULT), referred to as and disseminated via the web and social networks, is one other issue to think about that worries the authorities, and is a mirrored image of the brand new second that lives Cuba. The spark of the decision was the forcible eviction of a gaggle of dissident artists and activists from the so-called San Isidro Motion (MSI), who have been protesting in a home in Outdated Havana over the conviction of a rapper.

In rejection of what occurred the night time earlier than, the mobilization, cell phone in hand, of a whole lot of younger individuals linked to the world of tradition, every with their very own agenda or with out an agenda, however united within the demand for higher freedom of expression, tolerance coverage and cessation of harassment in opposition to the dissenter, put the authorities earlier than an unprecedented actuality. MINCULT officers agreed to obtain a gaggle representing the protesters, listened to their calls for, and dedicated themselves to a dialogue that was in the end annoyed, however that shook the foundations of the political debate in Cuba.

Tens, a whole lot of individuals, artists, teachers, activists and customary individuals threw themselves into the networks to defend dialogue, whereas the authority and those that recognized with it denied any chance of debate with “counterrevolutionaries” and “mercenaries paid by the Empire”. Tv and the official media harshly attacked members of the MSI and unbiased journalists – not in opposition to the protesters of 27N -, however an unprecedented confrontation on the Web was established for weeks that confirmed that the State, at this time, not has a monopoly on the message and of the established fact.

“The networks are the expression of an genuine democratization of communication that the Web revolution has allowed. In the present day, any particular person in any nation, for a minimal price, with a smartphone has the identical communicational firepower as, for instance, the CNN. It’s a appreciable revolution ”, mirrored in these days the previous director of The diplomatic world, Ignacio Ramonet, creator of the ebook 100 hours with Fidel, in an interview with EL PAÍS.

What occurred in these first days of financial reform confirms that, along with the financial, political and social challenges, 2021 additionally brings new guidelines of the sport to Cuba. The 1000’s of messages and criticisms on Fb, Instagram and different social networks in opposition to the worth will increase and the introduced measures, made the authorities suppose higher of it and in some instances again down. 62 years after Castro got here down from the Sierra Maestra, one other very loaded January 1 arrives: the Celebration Congress, the definitive alternative of the historic, Biden’s touchdown, financial reforms, social networks, shortages and its penalties of citizen unrest, make 2021 a key yr within the end result of the Revolution versus Evolution dilemma.

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