When Fidel Castro’s brother Raul assumed the reigns of power from Cuba’s ailing dictator nearly two years ago, hopes ran high that the transition would usher in a new era of political reform inside the communist country. But recent reports suggest that so far from improving the lot of the Cuban people, Raul’s government has introduced new forms of repression and corruption. As the new year begins, Cuba is facing its worst economic crisis in 20 years, even as political repression persists and the promised “structural” reforms have never materialized. For most Cubans, another difficult year looms.
Perhaps the best guide to understanding what has happened in Cuba since Raul’s takeover, and what lies ahead, comes from a November report from Human Rights Watch. Titled “New Castro, Same Cuba,” the 123-page report examines the conditions inside Cuba since Raúl Castro took power.