Cuba: Capitalism From Afar / Iván García

Golf Course in Cuba
Golf Course in Cuba

Ivan Garcia, 14 May 2016 — Eight months haven’t been enough for the state-owned employer in the tourism sector to hire Yasmani, 23, a black guy nearly six feet talk who is perfecting his English in a private academy in Havana and who has wasted time and money learning the secrets of golf at a club south of the city.

Almost a year ago, on a night of drinking and reggaeton, Yasmani, with a degree in tourism, met a British businessman who wants to do business in Cuba in high class tourism.

“Do you know golf?” the man asked me. “I told him a remembered reading somewhere about Tiger Woods, little more. He said to try to learn the sport, with my command of English and the education I have, maybe I could get a job as a caddy,” said Yasmani, speaking from the doorway of his house.

The olive-green regime buried golf, labeling it aristocratic. One morning in 1961 Fidel Castro and Ernesto Guevara planned a round of golf at the old Havana Biltmore Country Club, with the intention of staging a parody of the golf parties in the United States were Eisenhower and Nixon played.

Five and a half decades later, Raul Castro, hand-picked by his brother, has among his master strategies the development of golf courses in the country in exclusive luxury resorts for tourists with checkbook balances ended in six zeros.

In Cuba, there aren’t even a hundred a people who play gold. The majority are the children of the Communist bourgeoisie officials bewitched by haute couture, the bon vivant, and consumer luxuries. While their fathers speak through tight lips about the proletariat, they pull out all the stops living like magnates from Wall Street.

But this doesn’t matter to Yasmini. “Some friends have told me that in one day working as a caddy you can stuff your pockets,”boasts the young man, still hopeful of being hired by the state company.

The criolla autocracy pays no attention to the voices of citizens who warn of the environmental risks and the ecological strategies of maintaining land that wastes a ton of water.

In 2013, the British company Esencia Hotels and Resorts and the Cuban company Palmares agreed to the creation of a joint venture, Havana Resort, for the development of golf courses. The Carbonera Club, with 18 holes, about 15 kilometers from Varadero and worth about 350 million dollars, was presented as the first initiative of this association, while similar projects are being negotiation with investments from China, Spain, Vietnam and Russia.

Guy Chartier, President of Wilton Properties, confirmed in February that the company plans to start a mega project with an investment of 1.4 billion dollars, in Jibacoa 60 kilometers east of Havana, to build buildings and a luxury hotel, surrounded by seven beaches, golf courses and tennis courts, an equestrian center and a ’village’ for artists.

The Catalan company Urbas, despite losses in 2015 of $ 4.2 million, will begin the development of a large tourism and real estate project in Cuba, which includes the construction of luxury hotels and golf courses, among others facilities, in the city of Cienfuegos, after acquiring 30% of Caribbean Resort and Golf, with an option to buy up the remaining 70%, according to Europa Press.

The huge complex is projected to cover six to eight square iles in on the Rancho Luna-Pasacaballos peninsula. Specifically, they plan to build a marina, six golf courses, six five-star hotels, three apartment-hotels, 1,500 villas and 3,000 apartments, whose development would be undertaken through a joint-venture, with private and state capital, through Cubagolf, whose second partner is the Spanish Company Caribbean Resort and Golf.

These capitalist options, like the Chanel show, recently held in Havana, the Havana Festivals and the arrival of cruises to various ports on the island, can only be observed by ordinary Cubans from a distance, and behind barriers guarded by the police and State Security agents.

In Cuba we see the implementation of a two-headed version: the worst of Marxist socialism overlapped with the most primitive capitalism of the African court.

For domestic consumption, along with ideological propaganda that we have to be wary of imperialism, and the false promise of a prosperous and sustainable socialism. Meanwhile, ordinary Cubans, look through the display windows at the exorbitant prices in hard currency of LED TV sets or domestic appliances.

Josué, a taxi driver on the Palma-Fraternity Park line, is clear. “This is capitalism for a while now. Only for a few. The rest can go fuck themselves,” he says, navigating around the numerous potholes on Diez de Octubre Street in Havana.

But Yasmani, who aspires to be a caddy, is trying to save himself by entering the capitalism club. Even if he has to carry the clubs.