New NAF Publication Explores Consequences of the Sixth Party Congress
As Cuba watchers continue to digest the VI Party Congress, we wanted to share with you a newly-released New America Foundation (NAF) policy paper, “Change in Post-Fidel Cuba: Political Liberalization, Economic Reform, and Lessons for U.S. Policy”. In this new publication from NAF's U.S.-Cuba Policy Initiative, author Arturo Lopez-Levy explores the political context in which the VI Party Congress took place, the reform processes currently underway in Cuba, and the resulting implications for U.S. policy toward the island.
We previewed several excerpt of the paper a few weeks back, but are now pleased to be able to share it with you in its entirety.
Here are a few excerpts:
On the Cuban government and domestic opposition.
“Facing a more plural society, the government is being compelled to bargain in response to the emergence of citizen advocacy groups rather than simply rely on confrontation. Totalitarian practices have softened. There is undoubtedly a clear policy of confrontation employed against openly political opposition groups; however, in the last few years, a gray area has emerged where intellectuals and groups that promote citizen interests without directly challenging the state’s power are tolerated.”
On the reform process
“In the last four years, the implementation of reforms has been slow, but it foretells some dramatic developments. It is worth noting that in the view of the PCC, the collapse of their ideological partners in Eastern Europe was fundamentally the result of divisions in the leadership. This is why Raul Castro began by selecting his own team of ministers and advisers: to avoid such a derailment of the reforms. Looking to the future, it is reasonable to expect an acceleration of economic reforms and a regularization of Party Congresses held every five years.”
On U.S. policy toward Cuba
“Diplomacy, not sanctions, must be the primary tool for resolving differences with Havana and advancing U.S. interests. It is worth remembering that since the 2008 presidential campaign in which President Obama proclaimed the value of negotiating with countries like Cuba, without preconditions, engagement was never defended on the basis of sympathy for the interlocutors but rather, on how best to promote American values and interests. American repudiation of the Castros’ conduct may or may not be well earned, but it should not be an excuse for constraining American influence with Cuban society and elites.”