The State and Me / Iván García

A few weeks ago, I called different ministries of the economic sphere asking for facts and figures. In a humiliating manner they told me that these issues were not my concern. “Trust Fidel and Raul, they always do the best for the country,” replied a technocrat in a lecturing tone.

I was born in 1965 and since I learned to read, all the textbooks contained the worn Marxist slogan, that the people were the true and sole owner of the property and means of production.

That made me feel like an important child. When I was a high school student, I naively thought that I was entitled to seek information on the economy and finances of my country. It was all a scam. As an adult, I realized that in a Marxist socialist society, the state’s role is similar to that of a 18-century feudal lord.

To me, democracy means that leaders are elected and removed by the votes of their citizens. And a president, parliamentarian or minister must do his public work as  transparently as possible, and is obliged to render accounts.

In “proletarian dictatorships” like Cuba, this is not the case. The leaders are above good and evil. They are a kind of deity.  They report half. Hide numbers. Tweak the tally. Or do not inform us about anything.

If a guy, supposedly brighter than an entire nation, is considered superior to the rest of its citizens, and believes it is possible to design a new economic and social model, outlandish and better than any other known, and once in power thinks that he individually can meet the needs of the people, would it not be easier to proclaim a monarchy and rule the destiny of a nation forever and ever?

In Cuba, because the State is the owner of all industries and assets of the country, it ruinously imposes taxes and heavy burdens on money, property, and consumption.  Without explanation.

I’ll give examples. First, they raise prices for high-demand products such as oil, soap and gasoline, without consulting the population. “Damn, I’m the owner of the farm,” they think.  Thus, pondering like ordinary landowners and without blushing, they impose a consumption tax on items that the State considers luxuries.

“These economic illiterates do not understand my strategy,” they contemplate. Now, in the case of new taxes on self-employment, they can be up to 40%. They have arbitrarily decided, arguing that this will improve the performance of the state bureaucracy and streamline its colossal expenses.

It has been demonstrated. The Cuban State is highly inefficient. It fails to generate profits. And in pursuit of maintaining certain social achievements, it puts the enterprising people who create wealth between the hammer and the anvil. It punishes them for their talent.

Politicians rule the world. They are a necessary evil. But it should be clear that they owe their people, and not vice-versa. And I remember what this bureaucrat told me, that I must trust in Fidel and Raul.

I’d rather go the wall on that.  Demand that they not conceal figures or financial budgets. Otherwise, I can not believe in the good intentions of the Castro brothers. And that is what is happening. Starting long ago.

Iván García

Translated by ricote

December 6 2010