Mini-Capitalism or Death / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The Yellow Pages of the ETECSA Telephone Guide report this year the first official post-socialist symptom. A more literary symptom, let’s say, almost a stylistic question: with good sense, without the extreme shrill of the vanguard nor the vainglory of the new class, the self-employed Cubans can at last advertise in this million-issue pamphlet.

Timidly, as one doesn’t completely trust the State’s imprimatur, a very limited number of the most entrepreneurial citizenry on the island already appears on the ETECSA list: a revolutionary species, where the hundred or so occupations officially blessed by the Raulista reforms can pay for self-promotion without violating the discipline of openness.

It is about, according to the slogan, “the best response of ETECSA to the demands of those who always need to be informed”. With a call to 118 and a few introductory papers, any micro-empresario can become immortalized in writing for the economic (and soon, ecumenical) history of this country.

The majority of customers venture only their business names along with a phone number and an address. The elite minority, with a more flexible vision and numismatic resolution, contracts for a half-page or perhaps a full yellow page, with pictures and deluxe infographics (that which doesn’t exclude our usual kitsch that spreads to Miami).

Small eateries and hairdressers. Pets and massages. Watchmakers and tutors of this or that educational subject. Photos and chic cafeterias. Bookbinding and mobile (with the iPhone in the middle of everything) services. Web and birthday designers. Books and laundries. Fashions and moving. Punchers and plumbing. Rentals and artisans. Marabú charcoal and insurance agencies. Shoemakers and locks. In principal, no traces of censorship nor ideological apartheid. Show me the money, countrymen! In the end, the proletarian paradise in person …

Cuba is changing, comrades: please don’t cling to violations of human rights and other Stalinist delicacies. Don’t perversely ask God for the impossible, either.

Nonetheless, there are two opinions in Cuba that I’d like to confront with respect to our nascent promotional sensationalism: some theoretic diatribe from that neo-Calvinist, anti-capitalist called Critical Observer (where they confuse solvency with exploitation) and simultaneously, an inflexible thought of Fidel’s (I assume still unaware of this daring act of self-management or perhaps this conspiracy of the self-employed).

In one and another clean corner of the ring, this column might serve as a betrayal.

May 26 2012