The Cuban government is betting on the Port of Mariel to strengthen its economy, but what would happen if crude oil were found in Cuban territory?
Many Cubans are not very confident of “progress.” The government boasts of this being the definitive path to the Island’s development. Is it possible that the government has a development structure in place?
It is true that the Cuban economy lacks a solid base, following commercial experiments in the interior that continue to constrain Cubans and prevent their development. All because of political fears — one being to limit personal enrichment to prevent an individual from directing his spending power towards a possible career or political confrontation.
With Cubans thus constrained since 1959, chaos has reigned in the gross national product of Cuba. The most recent crisis was the “opening” of the private sector. The government had no choice in the matter — it was not intended as a social development. Inflation had reached the limit and something had to be done. This was not an audacious decision to maintain the internal equilibrium of the country.
Private-sector employees, who as of September 2014 numbered 99,395 self-employed workers, cannot develop an entrepreneurial project no matter how small it is. They are limited to dealing in raw material acquired on the Island, or rather, to engaging in retail transactions that have created major stress in the community.
Let us imagine that we now have petroleum, that we found a full well, sufficient to satisfy all commercial needs and propel the country towards development and future ranking among the 10 major economic players in the world.
All seems to be going excellently: the Cuban will become a person, he will earn his own livelihood, and he will recapture all that was lost throughout the years. Social values, human rights, democracy, social conscience and a political experience will flourish that today are lacking among the inhabitants of the “Great Green Alligator.”
But, how many years will it take to see these changes? Will the regime give the green light to social progress? This seems doubtful. No! The central nervous systems of these socialist — sorry, communist — leaders cannot fathom anything other than absolute power. Their godfathers (Fidel and Raúl Castro) have inserted values from another galaxy into a alternate future.
Let us suppose that I now want to own a business. I manage my resources and funds to build a GNC store to sell nutritional supplements – monohydrate creatine, L-carnitine, whey proteins, Centrum, etc. (just so you understand what I’m talking about).
With the policies in place currently and in the future, I cannot do this. I am limited to doing business with foreign business interests. There exist only state eentrepreneurs directly linked to the government, who are authorized for this type of activity. Clearly, the government’s interests are assured with these individuals.
How will the island develop? Only if we, Cuban citizens, are an important link in the chain of our country’s development. It is very clear that we are not part of the system, that we do not count, except for where there are direct benefits to the State. Only for the Census does everyone count.
It is a simple proposition: I have my store, I make progress in my personal economy, I contribute taxes to the country, and my family also benefits.
Just like me, many others embark on this path — unlike in the current “private sector” model, which is a lie. Thievery, diversion of resources, and inflated prices comprise this so-called “private sector.”
What is wrong with this picture? That there are different social classes in Cuba? This has been the case for many years.
The leaders belong to the high class, and the inhabitants, for the most part, belong to the low class, and a few are in the middle class (aided financially by their relatives abroad). So, there are social differences! Or, I’m mistaken.
Truly, there is no hope unless there is a change in the form of government. The leaders of the Revolution are in their “third age” or beyond. The new generation of leaders will assume hereditary places, not earned promotions, having been bred on very totalitarian politics.
The key to development is not just about striking oil. It is about fundamentally changing the commercial and social structures of the country. It is about thinking differently, something which today will land you in the ditch. If you don’t believe me, just ask the Cuban opposition.
It is curious that Fidel defines his concept of Revolution as “everything that needs to be changed.” Well, the way everything functions today is apparently still good as far as he is concerned — if he is still even capable of rational thought, that is.
Translated By: Alicia Barraqué Ellison
13 October 2014