The Public and Private Debate and the Cuban Communists

A tanker truck delivers water in the streets of Havana. Throughout Cuba, many residents rely on these trucks because of leaks and breaks in the water pipes. (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerElias Amor Bravo, Economist, 19 March 2021 — The Cuban communists have decided not to settle for applying the absurd ideas they have regarding economic affairs within the island, but now, whenever they can, they try to impose them in international forums when they have the floor. Exactly what they do not do in Cuba with those who think differently or are not “within the revolution.”

For this reason, it is convenient to highlight what type of aberrations are said in these international forums, by whom they are said and what the objectives are behind such proposals. As the kind reader of this blog imagines, I am referring to some statements by the Vice Prime Minister of Cuba, Inés Chapman, on the occasion of a High-level Meeting on the application of the 2030 Agenda objectives and goals related to water,  that expressly called for “the cessation of commercial manipulation of natural resources by large transnational companies” and the state newspaper Granma has echoed this.

Without clearly explaining what is meant by this “commercial manipulation” it seems clear that the Cuban communists have decided to make friends around the world. Ask their Venezuelan partners about the manipulation of all kinds relating to Venezuela’s oil, or the Chinese who travel the world, with their state corporations, especially Africa, taking control of all strategic raw materials. They even look at them too, because the Canadian or Dutch companies that exploit nickel mining in Cuba, maybe they also act that way.

It is hard to believe that in the 21st century the government of a country would speak in an international forum in this way and manner, attacking the bases that make up the globalization process associated with the new technologies of the fourth industrial revolution, which are unstoppable.

Instead of trying to take advantage of these environmental trends, a representative of the Cuban communist government is saying, in some way, that we must stop the transnational companies that are behind these processes of world economic integration.

It’s as if they have woken up from a dream that began in the middle of the last century, and they find a reality that, obviously, they do not like because they do not understand it. The Cuban communist regime’s thinking on issues using the left-right scale became obsolete many years ago, but they stubbornly  continue to make fools of themselves in international forums, and then later to say that foreign investment does not reach Cuba because of the US blockade.

I imagine Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, calculating the economic cost that these statements by Señora Chapman may have on the business expectations of potential foreign investors in Cuba. Nothing good, of course. Some of them will have packed their bags and taken the first flight back to their country, the minute they hear these types of messages.

Malmierca knows that he cannot protest, because the vice minister has spoken with the authorization of the communist party, which is above everything in Cuba, so the only thing he can do is think about the Helms Burton Law and other trifles to justify the collapse of foreign investment this year and the next, and the next. Errors of this type end up resulting in the weeds and cobwebs in Mariel’s Economic Development Zone, which are the only things it has served for.

Cuba’s communist leaders must be aware that this stale and angry message against the private business sector, which they launch in international forums, is exactly the same one they apply to a 22-year-old girl who only wants to return to her country or to a pushcart vendor whose merchandise is confiscated.

This approach is out of place, and it is time to change. It is useless to defend obsolete, not very credible positions, and to become a false champion of some “human rights” that, later and in Cuba, they do not respect, be it water, or freedom of the press and assembly. It is the same, they are rights, and it is not understood why some are, while others are proscribed. They do not talk about that in international forums. It is much better to condemn embargoes and attack the transnationals,

The ideological burden and the absurdity of Cuban communist positions comes when Señora Chapman considers  it much more important to protect water and natural resources, which is the subject she spoke about at the United Nations forum, claiming “the strong political will of the governments to promote international cooperation.”

And, on the other hand, she considered very negative what she called “the commercial manipulation of natural resources by transnational companies” which in her opinion, unlike the kind and benign actions of governments in defense of the common good, has as its only objectives “to privilege the generation of financial mechanisms for the mobilization of technologies.”

I insist, ask the Chinese how this is done, and they will give you a clear and simple answer. The solution is, in relation to water, for the Cuban communists “to promote the creation of funds and financial mechanisms for the mobilization of technological resources with a view to increasing the delivery of drinking water, environmental sanitation and the sustainable management of ecosystems, in order to support the wellbeing of the people.”

Perhaps a committee from this forum should investigate the water leaks in Cuban cities due to the poor state of the infrastructure, or the utility rates after the Ordering Task (Tarea Ordenamiento). They could then verify that what was said by the Minister for “drinking water, environmental sanitation and sustainable management of ecosystems, for the well-being of the peoples” is left outside this increased public spending, and increase in state control and leaving less to the private sector.

Fortunately, these forums are attended by representatives from many different countries who know that in the use and exploitation of water, private and public cooperation is essential for the management of resources, contrary to what Señora Chapman and the Cuban communists say.  And, therefore, that there is a clear and firm political will on the part of the governments of all countries to implement active collaboration with private companies, many of them transnational, in areas such as the sustainable use of water, infrastructure development, capacity building in the area of water and hydraulic resources management, innovation, technology transfer and adaptation to climate change.

It is just that the Cuban communists want everything to be just a of the state alone. These types of messages, completely outdated, must be boring in a context of the world economy in which this animosity between the public and the private has, fortunately, and for years now, been set aside in the interest of a better life.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.