The Communist Regime Does Not Know What to Do Against the Demographic Winter

Cuban children remain with their parents in Panama to wait to continue the route to the US. (Silvio Enrique Campos, a Cuban immigrant in Panama)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 15 February 2023 — For some time, Cuban communists have been facing a serious problem that, due to its permanence and worsening, they don’t know how to address. We are referring to the rapid demographic aging that has made Cuba, with more than 20% of the population over 65 years old, into one of the oldest countries in Latin America, and possibly in the world.

The Cuban demographic winter, the aging of the population and a simultaneous decrease in birth and growth with a fall in population is not a recent phenomenon, but has been part of a long-term dynamic in Cuba since the 1950s. That the authorities now wake up in amazement and consider doing something is anecdotal.

By the mid-twentieth century, Cuba had joined the demographics of advanced countries, without the negative consequences of today. Since then, external migration compensated for the lower internal growth. The revolution disrupted this process, and except for specific oscillations in certain years, the trend was the same again, with the aggravating circumstance that foreign migrations disappeared while the nation bled with more than two million Cubans abroad.

These guidelines have been exacerbated recently, and this has led Díaz Canel to declare that “we have to give a blow to all these issues of demographic dynamics that affect us so much.” The question is the same as always, how do they plan to do it, with the paradigm of the communist model? Failure is inevitable.

The diagnosis is clear. In 2022, demographic dynamics showed that Cuba continues with an accelerated demographic aging process, which is also present in all sectors of society, with a negative total and natural population growth, which has its origin in an increase in the number of deaths and the decrease in live births.

Indicators have caused the alarm, in the face of what is described as an increasingly complex situation (another one) in the words of Cuban Prime Minister Marrero, who, to this end, has announced the creation of a “governmental commission to look into it.”

The situation is aggravated by other coincident and surprising factors, such as the decrease in the working-age population and the economically active population, the increase in urbanization, despite the decrease in the urban population, and the increase in the average number of people per household.

The combination of factors is so negative that now the communist leaders also recognize that “in many places there is a lack of attention, beyond the absence of resources, and these are extremely sensitive issues.” There is the feeling that, once again, they arrive late for problems and will not succeed if they don’t make a 180-degree turn in their performance.

Because getting out of the demographic winter in a nation as economically committed as Cuba is not just a matter of pulling public spending and having material and financial resources incorporated into the state plan and budget, by agencies and territories. Those who think that the 2,113 million pesos, recorded in the public accounts for 2023, will be of some use are wrong.

But when you look at the destiniation of that money, the immediate question is: What does it have to do with the recovery of the population that is needed? Let’s see. There is public money for “resources for stomatological prostheses, hearing aids, care for the infertile couple and modernization of equipment for assisted reproduction centers.” Also for the training and attention to the education of the elderly, development of workshops, events and other improvement actions. Are there resources? Yes, of course, the earnings and salaries of employees who serve people. And little else. Current expenditure.

This plan of the regime coincides with the one that aroused our attention a few days ago when the recovery was announced by territorial governments of childcare centers, nursing homes, maternal homes and grandparents’ homes, the construction of homes for mothers with three children or more, as well as housing needs in rural areas, taking advantage of abandoned communist infrastructures such as schools in the countryside.

Who can think that the increase in children’s facilities can be used to increase the birth rate, when the Cuban woman knows that it makes very little sense to bring children into a country where they will have no other future than fleeing into exile when they are older? Despite the systemic waste of expenses, the regime is to blame for having only met half of the requests for childcare centers. The solution is easy: stop building hotel rooms.

The initiative of the opening of children’s homes in labor entities, that is, companies, will be subject to inequalities because it will only be possible for those workers who provide their services in those companies with the capacity to create these classrooms. Before incorporating companies into the service, availability must be ensured for everyone. Communists think of companies rather than of setting up a form of self-employment as a childcare assistant. A formula that they don’t like because they say it’s unfair according to their ideological code. One yes, the other no.

At the meeting of the authorities, an evaluation kit in geriatrics and gerontology was also presented for use in health institutions, to address aging, which contains a glucose meter, a digital equipment to take pressure and an oximeter, among others, prepared by the company Combiomed Digital Medical Technology. It is thought that this is a basic module that should exist in any population care center, because it is not only for the sick, it is also for studying population, early diagnosis and follow-up.

At the meeting, the proposal for the improvement of care schools was also presented, which will have the responsibility to train caregivers, paid or unpaid, to provide them with the knowledge, skills and aptitudes, that allow them to provide care with the highest possible quality.

Flailing around. Not one on the target. The fight against the fall of the population does not depend on these kinds of laboratory initiatives, but on the basis of a prosperous economy in which everyone takes part. Curving the depressive dynamics of the population does not depend on public spending, but on the creation of powerful and solvent private activities and sectors that pay good wages and improve the quality of life and prosperity of the people. Communists entertain themselves with their resource objectives, pecking here and there, but in this type of action, the only thing that matters is the results.

However, the leaders assure that demographic problems will be solved in the medium and long term with some euphoria, but they also say that “the fight will be difficult and discouragement must be avoided if the population patterns are to be changed” to which the governors, the mayors and the councils of the administration of municipalities and provinces must remain attentive. More work. Will it work?

Translated by Regina Anavy


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