David Usborne: The genie of change is already out of the bottle

Share
Related Topics

Gay visitors to Havana no longer need to lurk at a certain street corner in hopes of a whisper in the ear about the location of that night's clandestine party. For the last few months there has been an officially tolerated gay club in the historic district close to the National Theatre. Who'd have thought?

You hear the argument made that change will ruin Cuba. Having a regular gay club to visit takes away some of the cloak-and-dagger thrill of how things used to be. Meanwhile, the package-tour industry (in Canada and Europe, but not in the US) might as well agree on its promotional slogan: visit crumbling Cuba before Castro dies.

This was always nostalgic nonsense and not just because the Castro in question – Fidel – did not die as everyone expected when he fell ill, albeit very gravely, in late 2006. There he was yesterday at the close of the Communist Congress next to his brother, Raul, who has been in charge for nearly four years.

The remaking of Cuba will not to be wrought by an invasion of American cruise ships. It will come from within. Hopefully, it will not be the ruination of a country that has much to be ashamed of – most notably in the arena of human rights, but also reasons for pride – such as its record on health, education and the arts.

The future can be glimpsed through the 300 economic reforms adopted by the Congress this week which range from the petty (new rules on animal insemination) to the profound (the dropping of barriers to the buying and selling of property). That Raul is sincere about change was obvious from the scolding he gave the bureaucrats to stop blaming everything that is wrong with Cuba on the US embargo, a remarkable statement from a Cuban leader.

Also important: word of plans to provide seed money to Cubans interested in starting private ventures. In conversations with Cubans on a recent visit, it was lack of access to funds and loans to begin new businesses that they complained about first. (Only those with family in Miami have access to real money.)

Naturally sceptical Cubans should feel some hope that change is in sight. That makes Raul's reverting to type yesterday and choosing old revolutionaries as his deputies all the more disappointing.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Chef de Partie

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This award winning conference venues provider...

Recruitment Genius: Admin Assistant

£12000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding Insurance Brokerag...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Mechanic / Plant Fitter

£24000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Lancashire based engineeri...

Recruitment Genius: Service Advisor

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Hollywood: Stop trying to make Superman cool. The world needs a boy scout in blue

Matthew Daly
A man enjoys the  

If you really want to legalise cannabis, then why on earth would you go and get high in a park?

Peter Reynolds
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders