• U.S.

You Should Not Expect A Miracle

3 minute read

Ricardo Alarcon, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power, met with TIME correspondents last week in Havana to talk about the Pope’s visit, Castro and Cuba. Excerpts: TIME: A lot of Cuban people expect that the Pope’s visit will alter U.S. policy toward Cuba. You don’t really think that’s true, do you?

Alarcon: No. You should not expect a miracle to come from his visit. That is naive.

TIME: Would you permit a bigger role for the church in Cuban society?

Alarcon: Yes, in terms of the proper role that the church should have in a lay society. I mean in terms of practicing religion, promoting certain values of spirituality, of human kindness, of human solidarity. I think that would be a positive development. But we cannot go back to the time when one particular religion had the dominant role, because that is a way to discriminate against others. The obligation of the state is to guarantee freedom of religion, and that implies dealing with all of them on an equal footing.

TIME: “The revolution” has become an amazingly elastic term these days. Doesn’t the term become hollow?

Alarcon: After the disappearance of the socialist world, you had to deal with the real world or move to another planet. While it is true that we have some things in our reality that are not to our liking–the dual economy, the circulation of dollars–that was done out of necessity. But it is something that we should try to eliminate, the sooner the better.

TIME: People talk a lot about Fidel Castro’s being obsessed with his legacy, with what will come after him.

Alarcon: That’s not my impression. In a way, he feels very happy that that issue [of succession] has been fundamentally solved. The answer is not to pretend that you have to have another Fidel. The problem is deeper than that: how to continue the development of the revolution. If you go through the party leadership, practically everybody now is 40 or below. They are definitely more capable than the people in charge at the beginning–putting aside Fidel, because Fidel is really a special case. He’s a personality of history.

TIME: People say socialism has lost the gamble of history, that the future belongs to capitalism and democracy.

Alarcon: I think that the future belongs to democracy but not to capitalism, because they are opposite camps. We believe the government has to intervene precisely for the benefit of those who would be deprived if you leave democracy to the market.

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