Author: Marcos Nelson Suárez, Dallas, 11 November 2018
Mr. Miguel Díaz-Canel, President of the Republic of Cuba:
I write as a compatriot who does not reside on the island. In the late seventies, the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping took a historic step of unthinkable consequences that resulted in turning the People’s Republic of China into a world economic power, a country that back then was extremely backward and paying the tragic consequences of Mao Zedong’s policies, including the deaths of more than 70 million Chinese.
After a decade of applying the euphemistically known “socialism with Chinese characteristics” (read “free market economy”) China began to grow and, in less than 30 years, has managed to free more than 400 million Chinese from poverty and become the second largest economy in the world.
You have a privileged opportunity to make history in Cuba and become the leader who moved the country forward.
During the last few years, and possibly forced by circumstances, Raúl Castro developed timid reforms, but reforms that at last have provided some relief to the Cuban population after more than half a century of low productivity, lack of incentives and, in general, a economy that has depended on foreign benefactors.
You know well that more than a million Cubans have abandoned our homeland in search of a better future that, although promised in every speech, was never achieved.
Although the US embargo affects the economy of the country, especially because it limits foreign financing, the countries of Eastern Europe, including the former Soviet Union, were not under economic embargo yet were three decades behind in relation to their Western European neighbors.
If you want to overcome the US embargo, the first thing you must do is eliminate the barriers that prevent Cuban citizens from bringing what they want to market from abroad. There are no real reasons why, while foreigners can invest in Cuba and develop businesses, Cubans should be barred from doing so. Today, at airports abroad, I see my fellow countrymen arrive without luggage and return to Cuba loaded with televisions, car parts, motorcycles and everything that they are allowed to import.
I think the real reason for the limitations is the fear of the Communist Party of Cuba of losing power. However, both China and Vietnam have eliminated these restrictions and there is no reason to suppose that the power of their corresponding communist parties is in danger. Both countries developed repressive tactics that keep those who aspire to democracy at bay. Something similar can happen in Cuba.
Deepen the reforms. Open the door to opportunities. In fact, give preference to Cubans instead of foreign companies.
Take advantage of the opportunity that history has given you. Be the true leader who assumed a historical role and drove Cuba towards the growth and welfare of its citizens.
Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria
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