14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Mexico City, 19 September 2015 – The first reactions from the Cuban government to the recent relaxations of the embargo decreed by Obama concentrate mainly on protesting the underlying condition that, in order to receive the benefits, the Government will have to modify “the internal order,” a euphemism that can be translated as: tear down what remains of the socialist system in Cuba.
The expressed desire of the Cuban authorities, in this case of the spokespeople who have made pronouncements, is that the US government allow companies with “social property in Cuba” (i.e., State-owned) to participate in the spaces opened by the new policy.
The government’s argument is that “these companies are the foundation of the national economy and the highest percentage of citizens work in them.” Privileging these benefits to the non-state sector makes clear the political objective of empowering an emerging middle class, which in this way would have better conditions under which to compete with the planned state sector.
The curious thing is that, so far, the Government has not clearly told its people that the country is faced with two options: maintaining the planned socialist model proposed in the guidelines of the 6th Party Congress, where the predominance of the socialist state sector continues; or take a leap without a protective net to the market economy.
Ordinary Cubans might feel more inclined to give up the benefits offered by “a prosperous and sustainable socialism” as promised by Raul Castro.
If this dilemma were submitted right now to a referendum, the desire to preserve the so-called “internal order” would probably win. If, however, there was an open public debate where people of all opinions could participate, perhaps the results would be different.
The government’s room to resist the temptation to open up to the US proposals is expressed in a temporal dimension and depends on external factors as diverse as the results of the parliamentary elections in Venezuela or the recovery of the Chinese economy.
But before the offering of tangible empowerment through private initiative, ordinary Cubans (that vague social category) might feel more inclined to give up the benefits offered by “a prosperous and sustainable socialism” as promised by Raul Castro.
One of the main reasons to believe in this paradigm shift is that Raul Castro has not ceased to insist on the gradual character of his reforms, in which everything is done “without haste, but without pause,” making first small, limited local experiments because of the widespread fear of making mistakes.
To bet on the success of these reforms requires a high level of faith and this subjective component will only work if people can expect substantial results in a shorter time frame, especially in a population that has accumulated so many frustrations after having had to tighten their belts over and over, while waiting for the “bright future of socialism.”
Obama is now offering Cubans a faster solution, if the Cuban government gives way and if it changes the internal order that today is the principal obstacle to the flow of investments or, to put it more rudely, for (private) stores to be filled with goods and to allow American business invest in (private) bus and railway companies for public transportation, and to allow people to get up early in the morning and to search Google from their own homes for a chicken curry recipe.
This appears to be the main thing, the rest is filler, or rather the wrapper.