At Any Price / Wilfredo Vallin Almeida, Cuban Law Association

José Triana

José Triana

Wilfredo Vallín Almeida — On various occasions, I have seen a video depicting a meeting between economist Jose Triana from the Center for Studies of the Cuban Economy and officials from the Interior Ministry.

In the video, Triana explains his point of view regarding the necessity of certain changes that, in his opinion, are indispensable to the country’s ruling political system.

In particular, I liked the material that recognizes and tries to explain the imperative necessity of such transformations.  Speaking with others, I have received without a doubt, different assessments of this material: some approve of it, others are critical of it, another third say it is nothing but “more of the same.”

Diverse opinions aside, I believe that, as it relates to an economist, there is something fundamental missing in the explanation which Mr. Triana, in my opinion, does not very successfully avoid, which is none other than the famous and trite cost-benefit analysis to which this important discipline has so often returned since the time of Smith and Richard.

At one moment of his intervention, the speaker says almost literally that the important thing is, despite the errors that may have been committed, (which is to say, without considering the cost), we are here and we will stay here and that is what is important.

Independent of the ways these words can be read, my interpretation is as follows: I agree, there has been a high cost (on occasions exceptionally high because we are talking about the unrepeatable lives of millions of people)… but what has been the benefit for the same millions of people that have paid such a cost?

If the benefit can be calculated obviously in the loss of societal values, in the ruin of our cities, in the demolition of the Cuban sugar industry, in the mass exodus of its citizens, especially the young, in the fraud in educational institutions, in the detention and indictment of judges, prosecutors and lawyers and countless others, of what benefit can we speak?

Who are we apart from the remorse, and should we be content with the way it is?

And, in the case that it was that way, what is very clear is that not everyone is prepared to pay indefinitely some benefit, as satisfactory as this may be…at any price.

Translated by: D. Andrews

23 June 2014