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"Change? What change?" said Orlando Rivera, a 28-year-old unemployed Havana resident. "What I want is to get out of here. My mind’s made up, and I’m desperate."
While Fidel Castro largely governed by fiat and force of personality, his brother Raul is more considered. He seeks consensus, which takes time.
Fiddling with a new iPhone, the diplomat Alzugaray, 70, said he, too, would like to see faster-paced change, but he said Raul Castro’s measured pace ultimately may yield longer-lasting results. "There’s a conservative sector that he can’t just shove aside," Alzugaray said.
In many parts of Havana, the cityscape is changing rapidly. Along a once darkened street, pedestrians now walk through the neon glow of signs advertising new bars, restaurants and rooms for rent. On the waterfront, a crumbling pier has been razed and a gleaming microbrewery is set to open its doors.
A smattering of Christmas trees and wreaths hang in private businesses and homes, as holiday displays have become more common in a country that was officially atheist for decades. Increasingly, late-model European and Asian automobiles share the road with vintage Chevrolets and boxy Russian Ladas, idling at new stoplights.
As much as he repeats the phrase "without haste, but without pause," Castro, too, is hearing the tick of the clock. He is 82 years old and, in a sign of the changing times, has said he will retire when his term ends in 2018. He turned to the next generation in naming Miguel Diaz-Canel, 53, as his top vice president and heir-apparent.
"There’s just a couple grains of sand in their hourglass," said Biniowsky, the Canadian lawyer. "And they realize that ... if they want to preserve their legacy, and if they want to preserve some semblance of the revolution as an institution, as a continuing thing, they are in a race against time."
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