The retired leader of Cuba’s Communist Party, Raul Castro, promised a decade ago to transform the island’s economy. Still, his transformations practically did not happen, and those that did had no significant impact on the lives of citizens. The worrisome crisis the country is suffering now precipitated the eighth congress since the 1959 Revolution, and the Nation is hopeful that new impactful measures will emerge.

The economic crisis suffered by Cuba, which includes shortages of the most basic goods, does not seem to be improving. Within this catastrophic scenario, authorities convened this weekend for the eighth congress since the 1959 Revolution, where these issues will undoubtedly be discussed.

The April 16-19 congress comes when Cubans struggle with worsening widespread shortages of essential commodities, including food and medicine, due to a liquidity crisis exacerbated by the CCP virus pandemic, Reuters reported.

The meeting could provide clues to the path of reform ahead, analysts said. But many Cubans say they are not hopeful that much will change in the short term. 

The guidelines around the first steps to open up the economy, announced in 2011, have been virtually unfulfilled, despite the party’s claims to the contrary.

“A lot of my generation is frustrated with the pace of change,” said Jorge Quintana, 35, a Havana resident who stands in line for hours in search of detergent. “Many have emigrated in search of a new path.”

Most experts say bureaucratic ideological vested interests have undermined the reforms within the party. The congress will mark the end of the Castro era when Raul Castro, 89, brother of the late revolutionary leader Fidel, steps down as party secretary, the most powerful post in Cuba. The most optimistic see it as an opportunity to renew the atmosphere within Cuban politics.

President Miguel Díaz-Canel is expected to replace him.

“If President Miguel Diaz-Canel is given the post of party secretary, it would strengthen his ability to make decisions, and it might augur well for more expansive reforms,” said Carlos Saladrigas.

Saladrigas is president of the Cuba Study Group, made up of Cuban-American business people in favor of engagement with their homeland.

“If, however, someone else is appointed, especially from the ‘old guard,’ it would possibly indicate continuing economic stagnation,” he added.

The Cuban people seem to be losing their fear of the regime, and protests against tyranny fill the streets of Havana as never before. 

When police tried to arrest a rapper known for his criticism of the tyranny in early April, neighbors defended and protected him, preventing his arrest.

“It’s over!” goes the chorus of the song Patria y Vida composed by several authors, among them Maykel Osorbo, an inhabitant of the San Isidro neighborhood, one of the poorest in Havana.

When officers tried to arrest the young Cuban, the island became the hot spot of a rare event in Cuba—a protest against the government.

The rapper’s neighbors not only prevented Osorbo’s arrest, but dozens of people guarded and escorted him to the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement, composed of young artists who fight for freedom of expression.

Once there, they staged a street protest with slogans against the regime in favor of a system change.