‘Che’ Guevara’s Daughter Attacks Small/Private Businesses and Accuses Them of ‘Facilitating the Entry of Drugs’ Into Cuba

Aleida Guevara March believes that the solution to inflation that she attributes to the private sector is to regulate prices

Aleida Guevara March currently directs the Che Guevara Studies Center in Havana. / The New Morning

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 13 May 2024 — Aleida Guevara, the eldest of the children of Ernesto Che Guevara and his wife Aleida March, declares war on micro, small, and medium-sized businesses (MSMEs) in an interview with the Italian media Il fatto quotidiano published this Saturday in which she accuses the private sector of favoring drug trafficking. “MSMEs entail security risks, because they can facilitate the entry of drugs or other illicit goods into the country. Controls must be intensified by the CDR (Committees for the Defense of the Revolution),” asks the daughter of the Argentine guerrilla.

Her biggest criticism, however, is not such businesses in particular, however, but the increase in inequalities, which she attributes to them. “Although the initial objective was not wrong, that is, to import raw materials from abroad to produce goods in Cuba and resell them at cheap prices, these activities are creating problems because many times they directly import goods purchased in dollars, which when converted to pesos cost too much for the Cuban people,” she argues.

A pediatrician by profession, Guevara does not hesitate to make some recommendations on how to solve this economic problem that, in her opinion, the private sector has created, although the recipe is not new: “Regulating prices, above all,” she believes. “Teachers, doctors… need higher salaries, but the first thing is to regulate prices,” she resolves. Furthermore, she calls on the Government to act immediately.

A pediatrician by profession, Guevara does not hesitate to make some recommendations on how to solve this economic problem that, in her opinion, the private sector has created

Guevara, 63, “continues to practice medicine without abandoning my role as Cuba’s de facto ambassador to the world,” the newspaper quotes. Not in vain, in the interview she announces that in February she participated in the World Social Forum in Nepal representing the Island and that at the end of this May she will be in South Korea. “It is the first time they have invited a communist to speak,” she says, smiling, although she does not reveal the event to which she is invited.

Seoul and Havana announced in February of this year the reestablishment of their relations, which were broken in 1959 with the arrival of Fidel Castro to power, and this same Monday they confirmed the beginning of formal negotiations for the reopening of embassies. The years had slightly softened the situation – especially since the stage known as “the thaw,” during which tensions between the US and Cuba relaxed – and in 2016 some economic exchanges in technological and energy matters began, but the diplomatic scenario remained intact.

With the new context, the South Korean presidency announced that there were potential areas of collaboration and referred specifically to the island’s natural resources, but also to other areas, such as biotechnology and research.

With regards to the analysis of the current economic situation of the Island, Guevara does not use hot towels in the description. “We are experiencing a brutal economic crisis,” she says. However, that analysis is, to say the least, wrong. “We had to get our own vaccines, because no one gave them to us or sold them to us,” she says. The explanations as to why Cuba developed its own vaccines have been given by the Government itself, the health authorities and the directors of the medicine companies.

“We had to get our own vaccines, because no one gave them to us or sold them to us”

Havana declared that the cost of vaccines on the free market was too high, while developing its own formula allowed it to save money, to immunize the population, although perhaps later than other nations but at a greater pace, and guaranteed “sovereignty.” In addition, Cuba rejected joining the Covax international cooperation mechanism, whose objective is to provide vaccines to low-income countries thanks to donations from the richest and different organizations.

Although the system failed in part due to the slow pace of delivery of doses, Havana could not foresee this when it flatly refused to be part of Covax. Finally, the Island did receive vaccines from one of its partners, China, which provided the Sinopharm formula with which some Cubans were immunized.

Guevara also deviates from the truth when she analyzes the problems of tourism, which she insists “has not returned to pre-pandemic levels because the world has not recovered. We are in a general crisis situation and travel prices are high,” she adds.

The reality is that at the beginning of 2024, the World Tourism Organization declared the crisis in the sector after Covid-19 over, after 88% of the 2019 figures were reached in 2023. In general terms, looking globally, tourism numbers have already far exceeded the levels of that date. In Europe, Spain closed the year with 1% more international travelers than in 2019. On the continent, Mexico and the Dominican Republic show record numbers while Cuba sinks.

Guevara regrets the loss of foreign currency that this means for the country and its contribution to the depreciation of the peso – “which is no longer backed by the convertible peso,” she laments – but she trusts that China and Russia will provide new travelers to facilitate the recovery of the sector.

“If I talk about Fidel I get emotional”

The daughter of the Argentine guerrilla does not miss the opportunity to make clear the influence of the leader of the Revolution in her life – “if I talk about Fidel I get emotional” – and extrapolates it to all Cubans when she maintains that many miss him, but praises the figure of his current successor not so much for what he does but for occupying a space that, for her, is impossible to fill. “There is no point in making comparisons: replacing Fidel is too difficult, simply staying in his place is a heroic act.”

For herself, she calls on the people to support the president and remembers that the Constitution approved in 2019 is the result of a popular process. “Therefore, there is no going back: the Cuban Government is a government of the people, not of the elites.”


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.