Militarization of governance

picture1 The stark reality of Monday’s purge was not solely to streamline government structure for efficiency, but in fact, it was also Army General Raul Castro’s mission to rid himself the remnants of Fidel Castro’s loyalists.

The Commander-in Chief (CINC) of the militarized island nation now exercises complete control of the regime’s levers of power — lock, stock and barrel.

He has supplanted key government posts with past and present members of the single most loyal institution to him – the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR).

These military entrepreneurs (retired and active flag officers) are tied to the politico-economic survivability of the regime — more so now than ever, as their ranks have swelled in a host of strategic positions throughout government.

(For further analysis on the military’s involvement in the Cuban economy, click here to read my research on the subject.)

In large part, thanks to Raul, they will make pivotal decisions forging ahead a path for the island nation.

Throughout Cuban history, the military has played a decisive and instrumental role in politics, immersing itself as an arbiter of power in Havana.  Tracing its lineage from the colonial period where a Spanish military governor ruled with an iron fist, to army politics during the 1930s and beyond, the armed forces has heavily shaped destiny for the Cuban populace.

However, what cohesion will the military have once the former maximum leader makes his terrestrial departure?

Will we see the status quo prevail — a military elite that manages state enterprises generating  wealth for a chosen few?

Or will mid-level officers simmer with discontent in seeing their superiors bask in monetary perks instead of sharing the grand piñata with their subordinates?

Also, what does it say about the corrupting effect on the officer corps from monetary gains which has prided itself in military professionalism?

The mission of the FAR has now become the attainment of corporate profits.  Its primary task of defending the nation is relegated to a secondary focus.

Fidel’s demise might be the catalyst in consolidating fissures (e.g. generational gap of generalship, advancement based on loyalty instead of merit) within the armed forces generating a forceful change to the institution and country from the bottom up.

One thing is certain, the armed forces are in control of the island under Raul, but once Fidel physically exits Cuba’s political stage,  power aspirations by some within the hierarchy of the military regime might embolden them to seek out profound changes for the island and the military at large.

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