Cuba preparing for ‘probable presidential transition’ in 2018


U.S. intelligence services believe Cuba is preparing for a “probable presidential transition in 2018,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Tuesday.

“Cuban leaders will remain focused on preserving political control as they prepare for a probable presidential transition in 2018,” said the annual report to the U.S. intelligence community presented Tuesday by Clapper before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The report also foresees that “economic reforms to reduce the state role in the economy and promote private economic activity will continue at a slow pace.”

U.S. intelligence services attribute the latter in part to the “probable resistance from senior leaders and government officials concerned that rapid changes might provoke popular unrest.”

Costa Rican authorities flew 113 vulnerable Cuban migrants, including children and pregnant women, to a town in northern Mexico, Foreign Policy adds, where they are expected to enter the United States.

Clapper also told the Senate Armed Services Committee to expect a continuing influx of Cubans fleeing the island due to the slow pace of Raul Castro’s economic changes, writes Frank Calzon of the Center for a Free Cuba, which continues to receive information about government abuse of evangelicals on the island, including the bulldozing of churches:

The latest was evangelical pastor Marilin Alayo’s Apostolic Movement church in Santiago de Cuba, the island’s second largest city. Cuban Catholic bishops remain silent on the subject. London-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide has publicized the situation.   Last Sunday, February 7th, according to the Havana-based, independent Cuban Committee on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, more than 170 Cubans were detained by the police while they attempted to attend a peaceful march urging the release of all political prisoners on the island. 

Despite ongoing public relations efforts to look at Cuba through rose-colored glasses, Cuba is only better than North Korea in terms of economic freedom, according to the Index of Economic Freedom released by the Heritage Foundation. 

Raul Castro was received by Francoise Hollande, the French President, in Paris. There was much mirth in the French capital [above] due to Raúl Guillermo Rodríguez Castro, General Castro’s grandson and bodyguard’s faux pas. Raulito,” as the French media referred to him, insisted in walking on the side of his grandfather and a couple of times ahead of him while the Cuban dictator reviewed the Honor Guard. Monsieur Hollande turned around and waved him away. It is not likely that the Cuban television showed the video that went viral on the Internet. 

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