In 2008, after years of service as Minister of Defence, Raul Castro succeeded his ailing brother Fidel as the President of the Republic of Cuba. This change in leadership was due to the deteriorating health of the elder brother and was heralded by many analysts worldwide as a new political and economic epoch for the Latin American communist state. Fidel’s own admission in 2010 that “the Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore” fuelled this theory.
In spite of this critique of the state of affairs in Cuba, Raul reiterated, upon his appointment, that in spite of policy initiatives to reinvigorate Cuba’s flagging economy there would not be full scale reform. Diplomatic visits to China in order to secure foreign financing (upon which the Cuba has relied since the Revolution) and to study the economic reforms made there and in Communist Vietnam are evidence of Cuba’s continued commitment to socialism.
The recent changes in the single party state, however, have been undeniable: unprecedented land grants to 45,000 individuals and cooperatives, relaxation of property and construction laws and debate regarding the abolition of the widely criticised two tier currency system. These policies have once again renewed questions about the state of Cuban communism. The Cuban political structure has remained largely unchanged for 50 years and these economic concessions are merely a sign of the times; an acceptance that a system that flourished with financial backing from the USSR cannot be successfully maintained in the 21st century without some modifications. Certainly, toiling under the longest illegal economic blockade of the 20th Century from the USA, exacerbates this harsh reality.
In 2008 a National Assembly motion that Fidel Castro would still be consulted on all major foreign and domestic state policy was unanimously approved and confirmed one thing: as long as Fidel remains, so does Communism.