Overcome By Reality

A line this Monday at the doors of a bank in Havana (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 17 August 2020 — The failure of the tests for the arrival of internet on mobile phones was the result of an “excess of demand,” according to statements at the time from Etecsa, Cuba’s telecommunications monopoly. The e-commerce platform TuEnvío collapsed shortly after the pandemic was declared due to an increase in purchases and, now, Fincimex cancels the delivery of magnetic cards to buy in foreign currency stores because a barrage of demands exhausted its supplies.

When we add the occasions on which state-owned companies justify their failures based on a surprising level of demand. We must conclude that the authorities are unaware of the national market, its needs and aspirations. Something difficult to believe in a centralized and planned economy, where – in theory – it would be easier to calculate the volume and intensity with which a product or service will be requested.

Such great business blindness is the daughter of multiple factors that continue to run rampant in the economy of this Island. One of them is the excess of triumphalism, which makes functionaries and ministers believe the pseudo-reality manufactured by the official discourse and media. From so much repeating “yes we can,” and from propagating the inflated figures for production or development, many of these leaders draw up plans that are more in sync with what should be than to what really is.

The difference between what is dreamed of and what is possible ends up breaking the chain at the weakest link, the customers of these state companies

The difference between what is dreamed of and what is possible ends up breaking the chain at the weakest link, the customers of those state companies, which have miscalculated their potential, at the same time that they underestimate the customer’s right to receive good treatment. Then come the complaints, the phones that ring for hours in the offices of these entities without being answered, the attempts to blame the citizens for their indiscipline or anxiety, and the repeated justification that “we did not imagine that there would be so many requests.”

The main cause for this bungling rests in the ignorance that the ruling class has about the people who walk the streets of this country. For them, from their vantage point of privileges and comforts, we Cubans should behave as humble beings, who accept what comes without demands or complaints. An individual with no desire for prosperity, no particular tastes, who does not criticize state management and waits in a disciplined way for what is his share through rationed distribution.

For ministers, soldiers, high officials and other subjects who receive perks, it is very difficult to imagine the agitation generated in families by any opportunity, however small, to improve their day-to-day activities. Those who take home an assortment of food and hygiene products free of charge cannot understand the mother who waits for weeks for a magnetic card that can be loaded with remittances from her son, so that she, after long hours in line, can buy tomato sauce and detergent in a store that accepts payments only in foreign exchange.

The problem is that those who design the economic policies and business plans of the country are precisely those who receive privileges and comforts for free. Hence, time and time again, they make the same mistake of underestimating people’s needs and calculating the demand that any new service will generate. With a full plate, a car with a full gas tank, and a free telephone service, they are light years away from that galaxy that is “the real Cuba.”

No, it is not the excess of requests that collapses the services, but the distance that separates the planners from the customers.


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