f_0016621_14363 - Planning For Succession in Cuba: the Long...

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The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations Planning For Succession in Cuba: the Long ‘Anti-Transition’ by Antoni Kapcia E ven before Fidel Castro announced (July 31, 2006) a temporary handover of power to his First Vice-President and brother, Raúl, the discussion outside Cuba of the post-Fidel ‘succession’ was—and continues to be—underpinned by several assumptions. 1 The first is a familiar ‘Fidel-centric’ assumption that the Cuban system has always been constructed around, and depended on, Castro. Indeed, this viewpoint has probably underpinned all United States policy toward Cuba since 1960, explaining repeated misunderstandings between the two states. 2 It also explains why US policymakers seemed unprepared for the actualization of the handover and the ease with which it took place. The fact that Americans regarded the Cuban system as fidelismo and assumed that Castro would die in office, leaving an inevitable vacuum and popular unrest, they could not conceive of either a fidelismo without Fidel or a peaceful and generally accepted handover. The second underlying assumption has long been the notion that planning for a succession to Castro is a recent and panicked response to impending crisis in Cuba. Accordingly no Cuban leaders seriously planned for succession, either because a supposedly megalomaniac Fidel refused to contemplate his own mortality, preferring to die in office, or because he knew identifying a successor would be to see his power ebb away. As such, the issue of succession is a fundamental one. Fidel has presumably held together an otherwise fragile system through personal charisma, loyalties and autocratic control; therefore any arrangement for a successor would inevitably be less popular and lead to instability, especially because the constitutional successor, Raúl, has long been seen as lacking Fidel’s charisma and appeal. Certainly, a more accurate forecast about the future of Cuban leadership can be determined beyond these simple interpretations of the current system under Fidel. To begin with, the Cuban system should be viewed as a complex political structure and not simply an autocracy, while still acknowledging the critical role Fidel played in shaping the perceptions of popular legitimacy; the definition of the system’s ideology (he remained until recently the ultimate arbiter of what defines ‘the Antoni Kapcia is a member of the Cuba Research Forum at the University of Nottingham. 43
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KAPCIA The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations Revolution’); the process of decision-making; and policy concerning cultural and foreign affairs. However, it would be historically irresponsible to suggest that the survival of a besieged and crisis-prone system for fifty years can be attributed to one leader alone, and that those five decades and successive generations have not produced greater complexity within the system. . Secondly, the Cuban leadership, in its entirety, has planned for the Revolution’s
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 351 taught by Professor Shaw during the Fall '08 term at Boise State.

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f_0016621_14363 - Planning For Succession in Cuba: the Long...

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