The natural human vocation of trying to guess a riddle led me to make a prediction about who would constitute the new State Council of the Republic of Cuba, the only obvious clue being the absence of Fidel Castro.  It never occurred to me to publish my prediction, but now that we all know the answer I must confess that I was completely wrong.

I calculated that Raúl Castro would occupy the highest leadership position in the Party and that the office of President would be in the hands of someone like Carlos Lage, who would have as his first vice president someone relatively young like Felipe Perez Roque or a historical figure like Juan Almeida.  I thought that in the event Raúl was chosen for the presidency, Lage would be the natural first vice president and probably the post of chairman of the Council of Ministers would be occupied by someone else, so as not to concentrate power. I dared not gamble a single peso (in national currency) on my prediction, but was almost certain I was right.

The election of Jose Ramon Machado Ventura to first vice president of the councils of state and government I think is the worst news.  His reputation as a man reluctant to introduce reforms supports the idea that there won’t be any illusions that changes will be even cosmetic, or if there will be any changes at all, even in hairstyles.  The people of my generation are very familiar with their tastes in this area.

The second unpleasant note was the parliament’s unanimous approval to authorize the newly elected president to consult with his brother on the most important decisions in relation to defence, international relations and the socio-economic development of the country.  That he might do so in private I would feel is normal, as it is normal to consult with a relative on any decision.  But to institutionalize this consultation in a way that undermines the authority of the office is an unacceptable method of placing a person above an institution.

As for the long-awaited “package of measures,” one had to be satisfied with a cryptic presentation in which nothing was substantive and there was no clear timeline.   He gave the impression that it has only been since yesterday that those with their hands on the rudders of power had begun to think about the matter.  They returned to buy time, we must continue buying patience.

Fortunately, in the same speech Raúl Castro restored the right to dissent, which I applaud and take advantage of in these lines.