The Tenaciousness of the Obsolete / Fernando Damaso

Cars in Havana.

Fernando Damaso, 8 May 2020 — Cuba’s extreme left, made up of members of the regime’s most conservative wing, has decided to hunker down in defense of its obsolete, failed policies. They are determined to hold onto of every iota of absolute power, which they have held for more than six decades of ever increasing poverty and underdevelopment.

Faced with the current crisis — a prolongation of the systemic crisis of the system — the regime has refused to support widely recommended and essential economic reforms needed to alleviate it; reforms which would have avoided famine and relieved the suffering and deprivation of its citizens. Instead, they “strictly” rejected the proposed changes, invoking a string of fallacies which gave them the results of the past but which are no longer convincing to anyone with a brain in his head.

They cited the alleged “uniqueness of the Cuban model,” its “unreplicable originality,” the cultural, ideological, political, geopolitical and historical forces affecting the economy as well as Cuba’s willingness to stand up to the the United States’ imperial ambitions in Latin America. Cuba was the island of liberty, the beacon of the Americas, the bastion of socialism and other such nonsense, repeated ad nauseum by the authorities and their spokespersons from generation to generation.

All this hollow rhetoric collides with the reality of an impoverished people without agriculture or industry, of a country where two million of its citizens have fled and almost 20% of the population is over the age of sixty, where more people die than are born.

There is also the reality of a regime that is unable to generate wealth, to provide food for its people or to adequately meet any other of their needs; of a nation in debt to its international creditors, without capital of its own or the ability to attract serious investments; of a population without a sense of civic engagement, demoralized and prone to violence, which has lost many of the values that once characterized it.

As in other countries, Cuban socialism has failed and needs to be replaced with a better system, one that generates wealth and allows average Cubans to emancipate themselves and set out on the path of development, with jobs for all without regard to politics or ideology, as has happened in other countries which once had similar systems but now serve as examples.

For this to happen, bold economic changes are now necessary, which in due course will also lead to the necessary political and social changes. This is the reality which will prevail in the end despite the obstacles and obstructionist actions by the old, extremist left and its presumed heirs.

Reducing state control of economic activity, eliminating rigid, highly centralized state planning, freeing up domestic and foreign trade, expanding the private sector by allowing it to play an important role in creating wealth and generating jobs, giving real independence and autonomy to cooperatives of all kinds, allowing the creation of small and medium-sized businesses, turning over land to peasants, and reorganizing the tax, banking and financial systems are among the indispensable economic measures required if we are to begin emerging from the current crisis, which has been aggravated by the corona virus.

To cling to failed methodologies and formulas, which have proven to be ineffective in Cuba and other countries for more than sixty years, is to sink even deeper into the abyss of slogans, anthems and obsolete speeches which most Cubans do not believe even if they do not have the courage to publicly express it.

If we continue to disqualify anyone whose standards do not conform to the official dogma, to conveniently manipulate history and historical figures, to impose the regime’s policy’s and ideology, and to believe it is “our obligation to save the world” without finding serious solutions to our own problems, we wil continue on a downhill slide.

Before 1959, Cuba never lived on gifts, subsidies or patronage from any country in exchange for political and ideological loyalty. It relied on the creative and honest work of its citizens. I hope it will be like that again, in spite of the wails, insults and screams by those in mourning for a dying socialism.