Poverty Versus Wealth / Fernando Damaso

Photo: Rebeca

An acquaintance of mine boasts about having suffered from hunger during his childhood and adolescence—noting that he even had to rummage through trash bins—and the poverty that his family experienced. This used to earn him the compassion of a majority of people. By coincidence his mother heard about this one day and angrily assured us, “He was never hungry because his father and I always worked. And he never lacked shoes or education either.” After this we had less respect for him. It is a true story and his mother told us this in 1970.

For dozens of years this country has officially promoted poverty, praising it as though it were a virtue, and has discredited wealth, going to absurd lengths to penalize prosperity. This has been done both on a national and international level. According to this “philosophy,” anyone who is poor, no matter the cause, encompasses all the positive attributes possible: nobility, modesty, intelligence, a courageous spirit of sacrifice, tenderness, loyalty, solidarity, honesty, etc. Anyone who is wealthy or prosperous, no matter the cause, encompasses all the negative attributes possible: arrogance, ostentation, haughtiness, envy, cowardice, immorality, dishonor, disloyalty, harshness, brutality, etc.

So deeply has this absurd “philosophy” seeped into the minds of many citizens that, without realizing it, they react negatively to all those who, with talent, ability hard work and determination, are able to create prosperity and wealth, even under difficult Cuban conditions. They support all measures to “clip their wings” because, in their minds, anyone who prospers does so through illegal means, and only in poverty is legality possible. Given this philosophical mindset, it is no wonder that the national economy is in a shambles, and that the country has been and is in a crisis situation that has lasted for more than fifty years.

Poverty, no matter how much it is praised by those who have never been poor, only generates more poverty and misery, while wealth generates more wealth and prosperity. This is the reality. There are many examples, but they are invisible to those who do not want to see them, either through inability or convenience. If we hope to move forward and achieve development, we must reverse the equation. We must penalize poverty and promote wealth. The more wealth increases, the more poverty decreases, putting the country on a straight and stable path. Promoting wealth does not mean making hundreds or thousands of citizens rich, but rather allowing everyone to prosper without so many obstacles. Building a strong and thriving middle class should be the goal of every nation. This is the case in the richest countries of the world. They are not rich because they have a lot of millionaires, but because they have a large middle class whose reach extends throughout society and exerts a beneficial influence on it.

This was the trend in Cuba before the process of “devolution” began. Today we are turning to an evolutionary necessity in order to survive as a nation. Profound economic, political and social changes, combined with a new way of thinking, provide the only solution.

September 11 2012