A Cuba Expert (I believe it was Frank Mora) recently said that the regime will seek to maintain continuity through change...well, they appear to be maintaining continuity through continuity.
So, well, it seems that just about every Cuba expert was wrong, wrong, wrong, even in their most conservative predictions about what would transpire in the Asemblea's selection of the Consejo de Estado. Today was the day that Lage was supposed to shine, instead, the revolutionary torch was passed from Fidel to Raul, and partially from Raul to Jose Ramon Machado Ventura...yes, I'm sure the 77 year old will hold that torch high for years (errr, well A year?...) to come. Lage is the young reformer, Machado Ventura, the old intransigent. It would seem that this does not bode will for any sort of change. I'd say that most people's views went from guardedly hopeful straight to pessimistic.
But I do wonder if this is a mistake. Certainly, there will be no political or social liberalization. This now seems to be more unlikely than it has been in a while. But I don't think that today's developments rule out the possibility of economic liberalization. Let's put ourselves in Raul's shoes for a moment...we know that Cubans need economic improvements, if not, there will be about 10 Cubans left on the island by the end of the decade. And we've learned a great deal from the Chinese about how to make this happen. Now, we've also discovered that economic liberalization can open a Pandora's box of liberalization on the social and political levels. So, what is the best way to avoid this?...well, let's make sure that the people know that they are absolutely, without a doubt, not free. And this is exactly what he has done.
I do believe that economic improvements will come, I think that they have to, and I think that Raul knows this. And I do believe that it will, regardless of what is done to prevent this, open a Pandora's box. And maybe this is overly hopeful, but what can I say, hope was the last to escape that box...I think it's time to open it again.