14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 30 August 2021 — There is no worse way to escape from problems than to not face them. The State newspaper Granma published an article entitled “The problem is not that the population ages, but that it decreases” which, among other things, highlights the fact that, as of 1978, the fertility on the island has not covered the replacement rate of the population. Without fertility it is impossible for the population of a country to grow. Do they realize that now?
The fact that Cuban women of childbearing age do not have immediate plans for motherhood is something that should concern communist leaders, because it involves serious present and future risks. In this blog we have denounced it on numerous occasions. Cubans reject paternity and/or maternity: in the absence of migration, Cuba depopulates.
The alarm signals sounded at the end of 2020 because the population was reduced, as fewer people were born than those who died, according to official information from the ONEI (National Office of Statistics). The drama is served. The Cuban population is moving away from the trends registered in recent decades, while the migratory balance is negative and life expectancy grows again, not accounting for the negative influence of the victims of Covid-19.
If a journalist asked Cuban President Díaz-Canel for an assessment of this situation, which brings with it numerous problems for the country’s potential growth, it is most likely that he would launch a harsh criticism of the US embargo (and call it a ’blockade’) of the United States, without assuming direct responsibility for his government.
The fall in fertility has much to do with the lack of future expectations of Cubans, especially the youngest, and the notable distrust that exists in broad sectors of society about the possibility of living a future of well-being and quality of life. In short, a better future for the children.
This idea reduces the number of children of a couple. Whoever tries to compare this demographic behavior of Cuba with that which existed before 1959 is lying. It is true that Cuban fertility had undergone significant changes towards modernity at the beginning of the 20th century, but in no case were the results as gloomy and pessimistic as the current ones. Cubans of the 1950s had two or three children, and they ensured the replacement of the population. Furthermore, Cuba in those decades had one of the highest in-migration balances in Latin America.
In 2021, Cuba faces high mortality and very low fertility, with data never before known in history and in other countries that have been more successful in their population policies. At the same time, these changes are fueled by continuous and increasing economic failures of the communist social model, a general impoverishment of the population, the supply crisis in most sectors, and the bankruptcy of the interventionist state, incapable of stimulating population growth.
Experts who affirm that Cuba is in an advanced stage of the second demographic transition justify their argument by saying that it presents fertility and mortality indicators similar to those of developed countries in Europe. They are simply wrong or do not want to acknowledge the harsh reality of the problem they face. Cuba cannot be compared to Norway, Denmark, Italy or Spain. Nothing to see there. If the socioeconomic conditions of the different countries are taken into account, it is evident that the Cuban problem is different.
The same specialists allege that the causes of the demographic decline in Cuba respond to the economic and housing situations, the sociocultural pattern, the social and economic characteristics of the country in each moment, external and internal migration, high divorce rates and individual socioeconomic problems. But with this, it cannot be explained why there are cases of young couples, with good jobs, their own home, family independence, and they do not want to have children. The matter is complicated and obliges one to avoid superficialities.
What has failed? Everything. There is not a single economic, social, legal, cultural, social aspect, or ethical values, that indicate that in Cuba the situation can be reversed, not even by hypocritically blaming women for the drop in fertility. This is a problem that is difficult to fix, which will require great collective efforts to overcome as the population deficits will accumulate in the coming years.
And if society does not have anchors to solve a problem of this magnitude, which is becoming more and more entangled, the attitude of the communist government of putting its head under the ground waiting for it to fix itself does not work. The ostrich tactic may end up creating more problems on the horizon for years to come.
In particular, family policies in Cuba, based on an enormous intrusion of the state into family and individual life, have been an absolute failure, and the process of economic and social destruction on the island has taken care of the rest.
The drop in fertility in Cuba is the most visible result of the failure of the regime’s public actions. Worse still is to imagine the impossible, and from there to fall into the most absolute of the ridiculous.
For example, Granma’s phrase that “low fertility is also a combined effect of a society with high levels of sexual and reproductive health and access to contraception, which recognizes equal rights and opportunities for people, it represents an achievement that is still pending in many countries in our region.
If burying one’s head in the sand is serious, it is even more so to act irresponsibly and recklessly in a matter of great economic and social impact, with effects on future generations. What seems evident is that those who have the responsibility of achieving a successful country, with an economy capable of integrating everyone’s wishes, are unable to face the demographic challenge, and have thrown in the towel, thinking that over time it is possible that everything will change and the current status quo be overcome.
The regime is unable to understand that its policies to support the population, interventionist, interfering, controlling and intrusive, simply do not work. They believe that what they do is enough, and they don’t want to acknowledge the disaster.
But to believe that this is fixed by prioritizing the provision of subsidies to mothers with three or more children under 12 years of age for the construction or rehabilitation of houses is a big mistake. Or that this policy can be better developed from the provinces and not with a national vision, or that it depends on the state of housing, or the attention of the Ministry of Public Health to infertile couples, etc. etc. what they do is squander resources from a depleted state budget.
And what is worse, resources that are not evaluated in terms of their effectiveness in achieving the objectives.
The problem is that within a year the situation will have worsened, and the regime will continue to “evaluate and analyze issues related to demographic dynamics as an aspect to prioritize for the economic and social development of the nation, as well as compliance with the care program to this vital matter.” But that time has already come to an end, and we must act. Another failure in sight.
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