When a “revolution” has continued for more than 50 years and all that has resulted is greater stagnation and a crumbling infrastructure one might be tempted to rethink one’s model.
Not if you’re the Castro boys. They, instead, look for another, wealthier, nation to suck up to and live off of. For the past 10+ years that nation has been Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela. Now that the Venezuelan strong man is in seriously deteriorating health, Cuba is worried for itself.
“‘Venezuela today represents what the Soviet Union used to until 1990,’ said Oscar Espinosa Chepe, a dissident economist in Cuba, the Americas’ only Communist-ruled one-party state.”
What an indictment of both Cuba and Venezuela! If you are dependent on such murderous regimes you have a problem. If you can so easily be likened to one, that’s not a good thing, either. The Soviet Union had the blood of hundreds of millions on its communist-red hands—many times the number killed by the Nazis in the holocaust. Dissidents were disappeared into the gulags, never to be heard from again. Two nations that bear a resemblance to it today are North Korea of the Kim dynasty and, well, Cuba.
The article continues, noting that the infrastructure is far worse now than it was in 1990 when the Soviet aid dried up, and that Cuba would be hard-pressed to afford its daily intake of oil at market prices, as opposed to the deeply subsidized oil they get from Chavez.
The stark reality? Probably not. But again, this should indicate a problem with their own system rather than with the world around them. Other peoples in other nations manage to afford oil, why not Cubans? A large, contiguous, tropical island like that could probably support an industry or two to make a dime, if the people were allowed to.
Indeed, in the very next breath the author of the article notes,
Much has changed in eastern Europe, Russia and China since the end of the Cold War, with economies opening up in varying degrees to market forces and foreign investment, driving impressive growth rates.
But Cuba, which two decades ago abruptly lost 85 percent of the foreign trade it largely conducted with its former socialist allies, still has a cash-strapped centrally-planned government-run economy.
And still cannot see past its own nose, apparently.
The only reason Cuba did not go completely under water after the collapse of Soviet Communism was the emergence of their new sugar daddy, Hugo Chavez.
When the Soviet Union came crumbling down, Cuba’s economy hit a standstill as subsidized food, fuel and raw materials all suddenly stopped arriving — while the island remained under the same US trade sanctions as before.
Cuba’s government called it the “Special Period” and Cubans remember it as a time when food was in such short supply that hungry parents passed anything they could get on to their children.
In an often sweltering Caribbean nation of 11 million, blackouts became so much the norm that Cubans coined the phrase “Light-ons” to refer to periods when oil-powered plants were switched back on.
Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro — now retired but then still president — presided over what amounted to wartime crisis economy.
Fuel was rationed; food grown in the countryside was rotting there and not making it to cities; long lines snaked around blocks for public transport, and shortages of food, clothing and soap were common.
Some women shaved their heads in dismay when they had no shampoo or conditioner to care for it.
And yet, somehow, they failed to connect the dots: countries that opened their markets and relaxed political restrictions saw a marked improvement in quality of life—they had shampoo!—while their own economy deteriorated.
Though the government never officially declared the Special Period over [because government declarations are what end recessions, not an improving economy — Tom Crowe], once Castro-ally Chavez had come to power in Venezuela in 1999, the Cuban economy edged towards stability.
But that cozy relationship is in jeopardy with Chavez’s failing health.
“I think the average Cuban, whatever they think about politics, is feeling the potential loss of the bolstering of the Cuban regime that Venezuela does,” he said.
“Cubans really do not want to go through the Special Period’s really tough times again, with blackouts and all that.”
I’ve got a great idea: get rid of the thugs who have their boot on your neck. Flourish as you are capable.
Lesson: if you want prosperity don’t be autocratic socialists like Cuba and North Korea.