There are numerous objective reasons that explain the current population in Cuba. But many of them had been on the island since before the pandemic, the current sugar harvest disaster or the disappearance of tourism due to the plague. They were there when Fidel Castro was still alive and the regime even recognized them in his speeches. The system did not work.
This crisis is the bill for the babbling of the Cuban government for a change that ended up being pasteurized by a gerontocracy both bolted to the Cold War discourse What fortified with a blinded international anti-Castroism.
The leaders of the communist island have for years admired their Chinese and Vietnamese colleagues who reformed by consolidating their economies, which explains the political stability of those countries, even outside their repressive systems. But the Cuban “adequacy”, as the local version of the opening was called there, was far from those models, except in a few proclamations.
The Constitution was changed, private property was included and bankruptcy in public companies if they did not achieve efficiency. But everything was zigzagging. Cuba leaves what it was without being what it wants. Antonio Gramsci, to quote a great intellectual from that village, taught that what defines a crisis is when the old dies and the new is not yet born. In the middle of that passage, between not being one thing and not the next, they only inhabit spawn.
.Cuba, and it is just one example, has more than 6.7 million hectares of arable land, but they are largely unproductive, so that the country imports 80% of its food, wasting billions of dollars annually. Silver that there is not.
The pandemic destroyed the tourism business, the island’s main resource. That sector had already been hit by the exuberant offensive against Havana of the government of Donald Trump that disintegrated the hopes of a fledgling middle class that had been born with the thaw.
The economy contracted 11% last year, an unprecedented level since 1993, when the country was in the so-called “special period”, in ruins after the collapse of its main sponsor, the Soviet Union. With foreign investments stopped, the North American ones and those of the rest due to Covid, the Cuban regime urged for funds defied the plague by reopening late last year, in November, the tourism sector.
To sustain this bet, it diverted quotas from an already thin national budget, which may explain the difficulty in coping with the disease which has showcased its famous public health structure and energy collapse. Official data from the nomenklatura indicate that in 2020 there were 12,000 infected, but so far this year the figure has risen to more than 230,000. Deaths were also multiplied by ten.
Matanzas, one of the focuses of this rebellion, it has half of those cases. There is the beach of Varadero, one of the central and most famous hearts of the Cuban tourist structure. That is why in the protests, which the regime preferred to connect with “imperialism”, there are legions of self-defined youth of the left who demand a change and repudiate a state that abandoned its people.
The “black berets” and behind them civilians armed with sticks and irons. AFP photo
One of those detainees is Frank García Hernández, a communist who works for Chavista television and was the organizer of an academic event on León Trotsky in May 2019. He was not the only one with those profiles.
It is a scenario that resembles the uprisings in North Africa, of the Arab Spring, a decade ago. In those deeds, the Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans or Syrians, among others, were overwhelmed byr the huge rise in the price of food grains Due to the global crisis of 2008, they demanded a solution from their dictatorships.
They did not initially seek to overthrow dictatorships, but received only mistreatment and bullets. The fury multiplied and the conclusion was the fall in chain and in a matter of days of several of those tyrannies of decades. It is no coincidence that Cuban President Miguel Diáz-Canel has reversed his flamboyant speech on Sunday that unleashed an unacceptable repression, which led to the resignation of his Vice Minister of the Interior and belatedly says now that he recognizes the justice of some claims in the protests .
The argument of the North American blockade to explain the current calamities Raúl Castro himself questioned it. In a speech before Parliament in December 2010, Fidel’s brother related an anecdote full of irony about the abuse of that argument.
A Vietnamese diplomat, he said, met a colleague from the Cuban Foreign Ministry. “He said to him: ‘How is it that you, who taught us to grow coffee, now buy our coffee?’ I don’t know what the Cuban comrade will have answered. Sure he said, ‘and … the blockade.’
The youngest of the Castros was the main promoter of the economic opening of the country. “Either we rectify or we sink”, held. He was not alone. Fidel, when he was still ruling, declared that “it would be the Cubans and not the worms (the contemptuous of the diaspora in Miami) who would end the Revolution.”
A comment that he extended more than a decade and a half later to a European journalist who recognized that “The model does not serve even the Cubans themselves.” Fidel perceived that the Berlin Wall was also collapsing in the largest of the Antilles. “We are marching towards a total change in our society,” he told Ignacio Ramonet in a well-known reportage book, in 2006.
Raúl Castro’s project was to model Cuba in the format decided by the Communist Party of Vietnam at its sixth congress in 1989. That summit broke the system of forced collectivization and moral stimuli that President Le Duan had imposed after the reunification of the peninsula. They went on to proclaim that socialization should not eliminate individual development, which, anyway, continued to exist even on the margins, or illegality if it was repressed.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel with Raul Castro. AFP photo
They decided abandon “mercadophobia” and paternalism and guaranteeing all forms of ownership by associating with any global organization, including the World Bank and IMF. A little China imitating “getting rich is wonderful” by Deng Xiao Ping.
Behind the notion that economic success could guarantee political control, Castro hugged Barack Obama and he relied on Pope Francis for the Catholic Church, highly respected by Cubans, to help channel the social costs that the transformation would bring.
The meltdown collapse buried that project. But the Cubans were not in tune either. The island’s CP reform congress, also the sixth, had taken eleven years to take place and when it happened, in 2011, the proclaimed changes had been much more moderate than those imposed in Asia. If the elderly in Vietnam were decorated, praised and sent home, in Cuba the schematic gerontocracy continued to dominate until things, as we see, got out of control.
Along with the reopening of tourism, in an urgent and disorderly flight to capitalism, the regime last January imposed a harsh adjustment plan that unified the two currencies that existed in the country, the peso and the convertible peso. That measure triggered a devaluation that some analysts calculated at 2,400% against the dollar.
.The North American banknote jumped from the band of average 30 pesos to more than 70 and it is discounted that it will reach a hundred if it has not already done so with this crisis. This is fundamental information to understand the background of this commotion that exceeds the capacity for maneuver of Díaz-Canel, to whom Raúl Castro transferred the power of the main chair of the Communist Party last April.
Raul Castro, in April, when he resigned from the leadership of the Communist Party and retired. Photo Xinhua
That gesture was in the middle of the adjustment. There were two signs, his retirement and the economic orthodoxy in motion, an attempt to improve the business environment on the assumption that the new administration of Joe Biden would rebuild the bridges that Trump had collapsed.
Meanwhile, the State tried to keep the exchange rate at 24 pesos per dollar, but since it is a fantasy price, gradually stopped offering it even at the airport, where you could buy the American ticket or the euro before traveling. Cubans look for foreign exchange because in the MLC stores, free exchange, there are basic necessities that are not available in peso stores.
These dollar trades have become widespread on the island since 2019, adding more disruption to the population that ends up trapped in a growing black market for banknotes and merchandise, a powerful network that even generates illegal imports. All at impossible prices and people in the middle of the pandemic in endless lines to get something. “It is not a question of freedom of expression, it is a question of hunger”, eloquently synthesized the censored theater director Adonis Milan.
A man walks down a street with buckets of eggs in Havana. Photo EFE
The rebellion and the crisis that triggered it they challenge the discourse on a Cuba as a beacon for the regional “left”. The degradation of the Cuban phenomenon is not an isolated event and it questions where there really is or has been left in Latin America in the last long years, if not decades. The left condition is established with the way in which the items are allocated in the budget. The label of citing imperialism every two words to justify all kinds of excesses is not reached. What governs the Antillean island It is a Soviet-style bureaucratic structure, a condition that has only become more acute. The other dictatorships, of Venezuela or Nicaragua, directly prowl fascism. Neither is left what expresses the socialism of the center in Chile, or the powerful social democracies, a clear form of capitalism, that have governed Brazil with the PT or Uruguay with the Frente Amplio.
Fidel Castro and Raúl Castro, in 1978. AFP Photo
Nor is the government of López Obrador in Mexico or that of Argentina of the KIt should be investigated whether Evo Morales was from the left in Bolivia when he negotiated with the agricultural producers of Santa Cruz to expand the livestock and agrarian frontier by burning indigenous lands to generate greater exports to China. The confusion of the meaning of words is always serious, but even more so when it is a form of opportunism.
© Copyright Clarin 2021