Cuba: a nation in search of a state


When the Castro regime comes to an end, the Cuban people will face the monumental task of building a new political and economic system out of the remnants of the old, according to analysts Jaime Suchlicki and José Azel.

If the recent history of the Western Hemisphere serves as a guide, they will reject Castro’s totalitarian legacy and embrace instead the ideas of democracy, free-market economics, and the rule of law. The development of a new political and economic system based on these ideas will require a new constitution, which will lay the foundation for a resurgent Cuba, they told a recent hearing on “Resolving Issues With Confiscated Property in Cuban, Havana Club and Other Properties”  at the U.S. Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The recent uptick in migration is a reflection of the economic hardships that many Cubans face and disillusionment with the Castro regime, analysts suggest.

“Cubans are desperate,” said Azel, a Cuban-American studies professor at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. “The illusion that Raul Castro was going to make some changes, economically, at least, has now been totally shown to be false,” he added.

A Nation in Search of a State is the title of a brilliant book by Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat that captures the plight of the seemingly unending waves of Cuban migration, writes Azel, author of Mañana in Cuba: The Legacy of Castroism and Transitional Challenges for Cuba. Although in everyday practice the words “nation” and “state” tend to be used as synonyms, they represent different notions. A state is a geopolitical unit; a nation is a cultural and ethnic group, he writes for Perspectives:

The concept of a nation-state infers that its population shares a common language, history, culture, and thus constitutes a nation. A legitimate nation-state relies on its geopolitical unit — the state — to promote national unity in economic and cultural life. These concepts can abet our understanding of the Cuban migration phenomenon and its relationship to the Castro-state and the Cuban-American community…..

Legitimate nation-states shape the state from the nation. Castroism has sought to shape the nation from the state. A legitimate nation-state speaks on behalf its citizenry and seeks to protect them anywhere in the world independently of their political views. But since its inception, the Castro-state has done just the opposite. It has sought to stigmatize those leaving the island as no longer being part of the Cuban nation.

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