An Expert From the Cuban Regime Defends ‘El Toque’: ‘The Economy Is Not a Game for Propagandists’

Manuel David Orrio del Rosario, former Cuban State Security agent, believes that there is a campaign against the media that does not correspond to economic science

The State lacks foreign currency and the population demands it in large quantities, one of the main causes of the rise in exchange rates in the informal market / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 13 May 2024 — The emphasis of the Cuban regime in its campaign against El Toque, which it accuses of manipulating the dollar exchange rate in order to agitate the population and as part of the US “hybrid war” against Cuba, is not convincing if science is applied. The latest to demand that “the truth be seen face to face” is Manuel David Orrio del Rosario, an economist, former spy and retired journalist who collaborates with some left-wing media, such as the anti-capitalist Kaosenlared. The expert points out that, in this dispute, he — “a defender of the Cuban socialist project” — can only be “with the truth and economic science.”

Orrio defends the professionalism with which El Toque calculates and disseminates its popular currency exchange rate in the Cuban informal market and offers an implacable argument: “Economy is a science, not a game for improvisers, crude propagandists or unwary people who fall into their traps.”

Before beginning his dissertation, the expert develops the importance of choosing reality even if it means giving “weapons to the enemy” and he does so by quoting words from a kind of holy Castro-communist trinity: Fidel and Raúl Castro, first, and Lenin himself if still doubts remain.

Orrio del Rosario describes El Toque as an opposition media outlet, and admits that it may or may not be financed by the United States while noting that, “like it or not” it is a reference thanks to its reports on the exchange rate. Some 407,000 people follow it on Facebook, compared to the 2,600 followers of El Dato, the page with which Cuban officialdom calls to counteract the medium. “Perhaps here appears the deep reason for the campaign; although, it seems, the ‘ideologues’ have a shortage of economists,” he says ironically.

Orrio del Rosario describes ‘El Toque’ as an opposition media outlet, admits that it may or may not be financed by the United States and notes that, “like it or not” it is a reference

The expert regrets that the Government, instead of trying, if it can, to provide solutions to the rampant problem it has with inflation and the informal currency market, insists on “attempting to discredit it through propaganda. In particular, this ‘enemy’ character is insisted upon and the attempt is made to discredit the scientific nature of El Toque’s reports regarding the informal exchange rate,” he adds.

He also reproaches the Government for having done nothing more than mentioning, while not implementing, an alleged program of economic macrostabilization and “correcting distortions,” also mocking what he considers a “señora distortion: the Creole laxity of official exchange rates.” Furthermore, he goes so far as to cite Marxism itself to question government theses. “A good question, by the way, is how economic laws which, among other great economists Karl Marx analyzed ‘in detail’, can be subverted from a computer.”

Orrio del Rosario presents very interesting data, such as the explanation offered by the economist Juan Triana Cordoví in the comments of Silvio Rodríguez’s blog Segunda Cita, in which he pointed out that two official organizations have verified the proper functioning of the El Toque method. “CEEC (Center for Studies of the Cuban Economy) invited the Center for the Study of Complexity (Center for Complex Systems, Faculty of Physics of the UH) to do an exercise on this exchange rate using very sophisticated instruments and its results were that the methodology used by El Toque is perfectly valid; it responds to the available data and its assumptions (statements of purchase and sale intention). They even applied it to other markets and it gave results within the parameters.”

Citing this, Orrio wonders why the Government deliberately ignores its “most prominent economists” and, although he never says it, one can read between the lines that he considers the current leadership completely incapable of responding.

“Monetized, gentlemen propagandists, means that the deficit is financed by issuing currency… without the support of a supply”

It is also perceived when he refers to the Cuadrando la Caja [Squaring the Box] program on March 24. This space, which, in his words, “no self-respecting Cuban economist misses,” was very explicit at that time: the three experts present concluded that the monetized fiscal deficit is the cause of inflation.

“Monetized, gentlemen propagandists, means that the deficit is financed by issuing currency… without supply support,” he says, and recalls that a fiscal deficit of 18.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP) has been programmed for 2024, compared to at the recommended 3-5%.

Appearing on that Cuadrando la Caja program was the former Minister of Finance and Prices in 1994, José Luis Rodríguez, who in the middle of the Special Period had to take charge of reducing the deficit and who in the program strongly recommended that all efforts be made to repeat the strategy. “Economic policies in Cuba’s current circumstances must be directed, among other necessary paths, to trying to reduce this fiscal deficit because we cannot sustain it over time,” he urged.

Economist Joel Ernesto Marill Domenech, also present, agreed with his colleagues and stated that “if there is more national currency and fewer dollars, the exchange rates have to reflect that relationship. If they do not do it formally (…) these imbalances are channeled through informal channels.”

Orrio – who emphasizes that “El Toque was not even mentioned in that Cuadrando la Caja” – also reviews the resume of Pavel Vidal, one of the main experts of the medium, and questions whether he wants to compromise the “academic prestige and credit” that “with all due respect, gentlemen propagandists: don’t you think that this man does not fit the label of mercenary?”

The journalist also recalls that in August 2023 the currencies fell in price – the dollar from 250 to 215 pesos – and ’El Toque’ reported it

The journalist also recalls that in August 2023 currencies fell in price – the dollar from 250 to 215 pesos – and El Toque reported it, highlighting that it has gained the trust of those who follow its reference rate because “on the street it has proven to be credible, beyond the fact that the self-fulfilling prophecy and herd behavior are manifested in the speculations of the Creole informal market.”

So much so, that even economists who admit the possibility that their information is partially manipulated, such as Alejandro Peñalver Mauri and Oscar Fernández Estrada, ask for measures that have no relation to the virtual, from taking charge of publishing an informal “official” exchange rate for the Central Bank of Cuba to stop “evading its responsibility and failing to fulfill its function of guaranteeing the existence of a formal market, even though it could do so.”

Finally, Orrio del Rosario explains why he considers that the regime is engaged in this campaign. “Is it intended to apply the media strategy of distraction, as Noam Chomsky says?” he asks himself. This technique “consists of diverting the public’s attention from important problems and changes decided by political and economic elites, through the technique of a deluge or flood of continuous distractions and insignificant information,” he explains. And he illustrates it with an example.

The Government allocates around 35% of the year’s total investments to tourism and only 6% to agriculture and 3% to livestock. And he sows suspicion: might not the one who defends a disproportionate investment in the hotel sector be the most interested in diverting attention to other issues and offering an external enemy? The theory is on the table, and its author only describes himself, again at the end, as a “journalist, with Truth and Economic Science.”


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