Daydreaming / Fernando Damaso

Photo Rebeca

In Cuba, unlike other countries where a minister is able and authorized to expose governmental policy, this is only the responsibility of the president. Due to that, if one wants really to know its contents and projections, one must go to him, through his speeches and public appearances. Some time ago, in an interview with the foreign press, the Minister of Foreign Affairs proposed that in order to invest in Cuba, one had to come with three or five hundred million dollars and, as the Cuban exiles did not have that, they were dismissed. It seems this character is not well versed in economics and his statement is quite messed up. If he was only trying to make a joke, it fell flat. The misguided approach, so absurd, does not deserve to be analyzed, but can serve as a starting point for some reasoning.

Currently Cuba, undercapitalized, in order to be able to undertake the road to solve its economic problems, should try to attract capital from outside — among the Cubans within, it does not exist — from both Cubans and from citizens of other nationalities, prioritizing the first, because of a basic sense of belonging.

This capital doesn’t have to be small-time nor that exaggerated, as the minister said. To invest in Cuba today is not easy and also constitutes a risk to anyone, because the laws and transparent regulations which would provide minimum and reliable assurances to investors don’t exist. As a result, as long as these are not enacted, investments — if any — will be on a small scale, but given no investment of any kind, even this could represent an injection of resuscitation to an economy in a prolonged coma.

Nor is it possible to aspire to the big enterprise — State of private — but rather to the development of small and medium enterprises, which have shown internationally to be the main generators of jobs and wealth, and which are also more prepared to succeed in times of crisis, because given their size they are more adaptable to changes, react faster and are more efficient in the introduction of the achievements of science, and in their systems of production and service. We are not reinventing the wheel, simply suggesting easily verified realities.

If Cuba doesn’t want to become a rentier state — dependent on foreign exploitation of some agricultural product, nickel, or the hypothetical oil in the gulf waters — it needs to take this path, which is consistent with real possibilities. Everything else is still a dream like soap bubbles, and to try to continue to live on external grants, is more of a political than an economic strategy.

Our country possesses fertile lands that are unproductive — the majority covered with the marabou weed — and other natural riches, as well as a skilled workforce, badly paid, which given the incentive of fair salaries and the possibility to develop their creative initiative, without absurd regulations that strengthen poverty, could produce the much-needed economic liftoff.

To intelligently combine State and private property on an equal competitive conditions, without economic missteps by political and ideological interests, would advance our country. To this end, the State must finally shed its false paternalistic attitude, that is just covering up its totalitarian nature, and exercise its role as regulator of social forces and nothing else, leaving aside impositions and command and control, which have both done so much damage. Only a democratic Cuba will be able to overcome the current crisis and insert itself into the overall world economy, as in the days when it occupied the place of the 29th most developed country in the world.

November 8 2012