Is Castro’s Revolution Still Floundering Five Years After His Death?
Five years after Fidel Castro’s death, the revolution he began in 1959 looks to have come to a halt, with Cuba’s economy in shambles and a growing portion of the population demanding change.
In the last year, the communist island has seen unprecedented protests as locals increasingly blame the one-party rule for a number of social and economic woes.
A younger generation of Cubans, known as the revolution’s “grandkids,” is demanding greater freedoms and rights, as well as Western-style democracy and economic possibilities.
Younger Cubans have put themselves in direct confrontation with a state that regulates nearly every area of public life and does not tolerate dissent, bolstered by the recent availability of mobile internet and a social media explosion in 2018.
Unlike their forefathers, the younger generation is unconvinced by “Fidelism’s” achievements, such as a social safety system with universal healthcare and education, according to Arturo Lopez-Levy of Holy Names University in California.
Instead, they emphasize how it “left the country physically impoverished, with an outdated system of governance and little opportunity for debate and competition,” as he put it.
“My generation is close enough to our grandparents to comprehend history, but far enough away to not be anchored in it and to think about the future,” Raul Prado, a 35-year-old photojournalist, told AFP.
Young Cubans today, many of whom are highly qualified but have few options, reject prior generations’ knee-jerk opposition to the US, hoping instead for improved relations and the lifting of draconian US sanctions, which have been in place since 1962.
Long lines of Cubans formed five years ago to pay their respects and appreciation to the father of communist Cuba, honoring the remains of “El Comandante” along a trip of more than 900 kilometers (560 miles) from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, where his bones are kept in a memorial shrine.
Today, however, the situation is different.
Following smaller protests in previous months, the country was rocked by the largest rallies in its history in July of this year, when tens of thousands of people spontaneously went to the streets of multiple towns, yelling “Down with the dictatorship” and “We want liberty.”
Authorities retaliated by detaining over 1,200 people, hundreds of whom are still in custody, with prosecutors seeking terms of up to 30 years in a country where public outrage is rare and dangerous.
The explosion occurred as Cuba was going through its toughest period. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.