Video offers rare glimpse of hardline ideology from presumed next leader of Cuba

In a videotaped private meeting with Communist Party members, Cuban Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel — often portrayed as a moderate politician with a quiet disposition — took on an all too familiar hardline tone that offered a rare glimpse into his ideology.

In the video, which has quickly spread across social media platforms, Díaz-Canel lashed out against Cuban dissidents, independent media and embassies of several European countries, accusing them all of supporting subversive projects.

For the United States, he had this message: Cuba will not make any concessions.

“The U.S. government... invaded Cuba, put the blockade [embargo] in place, imposed restrictive measures. Cuba did not do any of that, so in return for nothing they have to solve those asymmetries if they want relations and if they want normalization of the relations,” Díaz-Canel said in the February meeting captured on video and published by Cuban dissident Antonio Rodiles on YouTube this week.

“We do not have to give anything in return,” Díaz-Canel said.

The vice president and presumed successor to Raúl Castro, who has said he will retire in 2018, also warned of the existence of an “American design” aimed at the “political and economic conquest” of Cuba. He also noted that the process of normalization of relations initiated by former President Barack Obama was just a different way of attempting “the destruction of the revolution.”

Although many Cuba watchers have speculated about Díaz-Canel’s moderate views, in the video he threatens to shut down the OnCuba website, criticizes the Cuba Possible centrist think tank as well as a training program for entrepreneurs, Cuba Emprende, which is run by the Catholic Church and has links to the Miami-based Cuba Study Group.

According to Díaz-Canel, the OnCuba website, a Miami-based media company which also publishes a magazine, “is very aggressive against the revolution. We will shut it down it,” he said. “We are going to close its digital platform. And let the scandal ensue. Let them say we censure, it’s fine.”

“Everyone censors,” he added.

For Rodiles, the vice president’s statements “confirm...that he is an individual who does not propose any change, is another pawn in the transfer of power.”

Díaz-Canel’s told Community Party members that he was personally involved in designing strategies to counteract the opposition and the independent civil society on the island.

“I always tell the comrades of the Interior [Ministry] with whom I work together in this whole confrontation with the counterrevolution: [that] the day we could cut the money, the counterrevolution ends,” said Díaz-Canel. The Cuban government has labeled dissidents as “mercenaries” because they receive financial support from abroad, mostly from Cuban exile organizations and the U.S. government.

He also accused the U.S. embassy in Havana and those of Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom of participating in “subversion” activities and providing support to the opposition.

The long list of “subversive projects” at times showed in a Power Point presentation in the video, includes Obama’s visit to Cuba in 2016, private businesses whose marketing exploits the nostalgia of 1950’s Havana and even the celebration of Halloween in the island.

Follow Nora Gámez Torres in Twitter: @ngameztorres