Cuba awaits new vision of its future

The only communist state in the west is at a standstill.

For nearly 60 years Cuba was led by Fidel and Raul Castro, who succeeded in revolution, outlasted the collapse of the USSR and endured diplomatic isolation while bringing Cuba into the 21st century.

For decades, the small island nation has steadfastly remained the only communist state in the Western Hemisphere. But with the death of Fidel Castro in 2016 and the resignation of Raul Castro in 2018, the revolutionary fervor has been reduced to an ideological standstill.

With the gradual opening of the island country though the internet and tourism, Cuban youth are embarking on a deep intellectual and moral transformation.

Cuba’s new generation is losing interest in the typical revolutionary speeches and sentiments that the current government, led by President Miguel Díaz-Canel, is trying to keep alive.

Youngsters today are more interested in their social media and cellphone usage then the monotonous and redundant party speeches on the highly controlled national television.

These rather innocuous changes have had a significant impact in the future of the small communist nation. Raul Castro would never ascend to the stature of Fidel, and though Cubans mourned the death of the iconic leader, they have also felt that it is time to move toward the future.

This rather complex progression has led some Cuban leaders to ask the question: How do we move forward into a more progressive future while keeping our unique history? This question, though vital for the survival of the Cuban identity, has yet to find the proper leader who will be able to address both issues.

But Cuba is also going through a structural and political decline, which, with no help from long-standing embargoes, has seen its buildings, roads and pensions decline steadily with no end in sight.

In June, the Trump administration imposed new restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba, including banning cruise ships. "These actions will help to keep U.S. dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence and security services," said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in a statement, calling Cuba "destabilizing ... in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law and suppressing democratic processes."

Tourism is the second-largest industry in Cuba and the effect has already been felt, with revenue slumping over 20% so far this year, according to the Cuban National Statistics Office.

At some point, Cuba's leaders will have to make a choice if it is to find its place in the global landscape and give its people a better life.