After a quarter, as many as two million Cubans, 20 percent of the population, have migrated to Florida. But the new generations of Cubans in Florida no longer have any desire for the American boycott to continue: They want normal connections – be able to travel back and forth and keep in touch with their family on the island, and many will also invest there. The lifting of the exit restrictions has also led to this. This change is very important for American politics. Florida plays a crucial role in the US presidential election, and politics in Florida is largely governed by the Cuban exiles there. It is said that a Democratic presidential candidate must win Florida to be elected, and both Barack Obama and the likely Democratic candidate in 2016, Hillary Clinton, are now pushing to normalize relations with Cuba.
6: There are obstacles to normalization
The boycott law itself can only be repealed by Congress, and there the Republican majority (along with the Republican presidential candidates – two leading candidates have a Cuban background and two are politicians from Florida) fight with their beaks and claws against this.
The struggle to normalize relations between Cuba and the United States is also taking place in Cuba, although opinion polls suggest that an overwhelming majority of Cubans support normalization. Just as Barack Obama must fight with political opponents over his and the United States’ Cuba policy, there is widespread skepticism – albeit more hidden – also in the Cuban power apparatus against normalization. The Communist Party encourages its members to continue the fight against US imperialism. They fear that the new American policy is only a new and smarter way of fighting the Cuban revolution. In many ways, the right wing of the United States and the most literal Communists in Cuba feed on each other when they maintain each other’s enemy image. How can Cuba continue to ban political freedom – which has always been based on the premise that it is necessary to defend itself against US imperialism – if the US and Cuba have normal contact? And will Republican politicians in Florida lose much of their political capital if Cuba were to move in a democratic direction?
President Obama’s new Cuba policy represents a dramatic breach of the Platt Amendment logic (“Plattism”) on which the United States has so far based its relationship with Cuba. Obama’s predecessor, George Bush jr., Saw the United States’ right and duty to remove Castro regime and democracy in Cuba, not unlike dei political goals that lay the basis for the intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq (even if military invasion no longer was applicable in Cuba, a country located in North America according to militarynous). Obama has made it very clear that it is not up to the United States – but to the Cubans themselves – to determine what kind of regime Cuba should have. Both opponents of the new Cuba policy in the United States and parts of the opposition in Cuba see this as a betrayal in the fight for democracy and human rights. Platism applies here production.
7: What will happen in Cuba?
Ahead of the great generational change that is expected in the political leadership of Cuba in 2018 – with the election of a new president and national assembly – there is great uncertainty about the direction of the Cuban societal changes. We can imagine different scenarios for what will happen in Cuba in the next ten years:
- Cuba can become even more like China and Vietnam, with their authoritarian capitalism: more market reforms without some basic democratization. One variant of this is that the country is moving in the direction of resembling Russia. There the political and military power apparatus enriches itself (the latter also has control over the most important parts of the economy). And they use – if necessary – power to stop political reforms.
- A full normalization of relations with the United States could enable wealthy Cuban exiles in the United States to acquire dominant parts of the Cuban economy, perhaps in alliance with the military-controlled Cuban government. This could make Cuba a kind of mini-Florida (unrestricted capitalism, and the abolition of the social security that the revolution has given the Cubans).
- Cuba can use the next 3-4 years to allow small and medium-sized enterprises to grow (among other things with the help of investments from family abroad) and become a strategic part of the Cuban economy. This can force more political pluralism, a more open society and perhaps a negotiated solution in the direction of a kind of social democracy with controlled capitalism and a progressive struggle for social welfare and justice.