Changes in Cuba’s Economy

Time and again it has been shown that the chances for continuation of socialism in Cuba are in inverse proportion to the possibility that the Cubans could have three meals a day, earn decent salaries and live free of worries that their houses would tumble on their heads. The fact is, the advances in the system that have been made so far are nothing but patches and shores that are not able to last over the course of time. Moreover, they have not improved the quality of everyday life in Cuba in any way.

Havana in Ruins. Photo: PIN
Havana in Ruins. Photo: PIN

Just consider, for example, the money which flows to the country with the approval of opportunistic and supportive upper echelons of the bureaucracy – it has only been used for opening showy businesses while there has been an increase in the number of chipped, ramshackle buildings, a growing debate about the potato allowance in the ration book and about the possibility of using the corners and nooks of old, collapsed cultural centres as a substitute for lacking public toilets.

The upcoming opening of 16 boutiques that will sell brands like Mango, Gucci and Lacoste within the premises of the Hotel Manzana Kempinski in the Old Havana seems to have no other purpose than to provide a smoother access to luxury to a handful of Cubans and a few tourists under the very noses of those who are fighting hard for bare survival. In other words, people will have to get used to seeing the exorbitant prices in the shopping windows, which will only add up to the almost surrealist poverty they live in.

In this case, the booty will be shared between the Swiss company Kempinski and the Gaviota company, which is controlled by the Cuban military.

The model that has been gradually introduced into Cuba with the aim of alleviating the effects of the existential disaster prevalent since the 1960’s may seem the same as that implemented by the Chinese after 1979 under the presidency of Deng Xiaoping. However, Raúl Castro hasn’t dared yet to go as far as his counterparts from the eastern country because he remains attached to the Bolshevik theories. Obviously, he is going to take them with him even to his grave. Also, he continues to show reluctance to make a transition to the market economy in Cuba.

Meanwhile, businessmen waiting for the green light to start their activities in Cuba have to wait for the President to make all necessary calculations that will guarantee that the revolutionary values remain intact, the economy is still controlled by the buddies from the Army and the majority of Cubans continue living in poverty (a strategy used to maintain dominance).

To sum up, the path that is supposed to lead to the general wellbeing of all citizens remains the same, although changes have discussed for decades. The Cubans continue swallowing the Marxist-Leninist purgative while hierarchs live lives detached from everything that forms the everyday reality of most ordinary people.

Jorge Olivera Castillo

Olivera Castillo is a former political prisoner. He published number of books. He lives in the old part of Havana.