The Island of Impossible Forecasts

The only certainty is that millions of Cubans are still waiting for a group of elders to decide to release control. (Pedro S.)

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Generation Y, Havana, 31 December 2019 — We Cubans have learned to live surrounded by uncertainty, without the security of knowing where the country is going or what the immediate future holds for us. The inability to make forecasts becomes more evident on dates like this, when December is over and questions about the coming year fill family gatherings and street conversations. What will 2020 be like? Will the economic crisis get worse or will the long-awaited stability come? Will there be any hint of political openness?

Given these questions, we can count on very few certainties to make forecasts. For months the rumors of an imminent monetary unification have caused the convertible peso to lose steam and raised the prices of the dollar in the informal market. In the absence of a public schedule on when the dual monetary system will end on the Island, people are easily prey to speculation and fear. Leveraging in foreign currencies has been the solution chosen by those who fear losing part of their capital should the process occurs overnight and entail a significant devaluation of national money.

Alongside the monetary issue, another constant source of concern is the stagnation of the economy and the slowdown that the ruling party has applied to the reforms that Raúl Castro began to implement after coming to power in 2008. It seems that the Plaza of the Revolution has opted to maintain state control over a good part of the country’s industries, production centers and services and put firm reins on private entrepreneurs to prevent the sector from strengthening and being able to press for changes of political nature.

Relations with the United States, in decline throughout 2019, are also an unknown that many try to clear up, in a country that depends largely on remittances that arrive from our northern neighbor. If the sanctions of the US Administration continue to increase, the material deterioration will also increase, the official discourse will become more and more “of the barricades” every day and it is likely that the number of Cubans seeking an exit through emigration will also rise. There is very little chance that the path of diplomatic thaw that both countries traveled beginning in 2014 will be resumed in the short term.

One of the few certainties in the midst of so many doubts is that which signals that we are witnessing the decline of the so-called historical generation, a handful of octogenarians that continue to manipulate the threads of the nation’s power. Biology is marking the end of life of some of those faces that still appear in the official photos along with the younger officials who have risen in recent years. The death of one of them could open the door to a different scenario and allow deeper transformations. As in other years, the only certainty is that millions of Cubans are still waiting for a group of elders to decide to let go of control or for implacable time to do its job.

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This text was originally published by the Latin American page of Deustche Welle.

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