Habit is Stronger

Dariela Aquique

Men hanging out.

In my previous commentary I referred to the dissatisfaction felt by self-employed vendors, their considerations and the lack of understanding of the monetary expenses they’re going to face.

I parodied this a bit with the popular children’s song “Dos y dos son cuatro” (two plus two equals four) to express how now it’s necessary to do more with less, though that’s not exactly the phrase uttered a few years ago to refer to the stages of production of this or that economic sector of the country.

Recently I was able to talk with an economist who obviously understands all of these gyrations better than other people. He explained to me that the ignorance of international economic practices on the part of Cubans was the result of total non-practice.

Our economic model was quite unique but it gradually aligned to become no more than the reproduction of alternatives that originated in the former USSR and the socialist countries of Eastern Europe.

We lived for many years depending on the so-called Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, and because of this we stopped being productive. This created a sort of parasitism that took root in such a way that it’s now difficult to change.

Our younger generations were really educated in an indifference to work. They grew up unaware that the things people obtain are the result of their effort…that they don’t merely deserve them.

The highest levels of the present government has begun announcing that a series of free benefits that the public has enjoyed up until today must be restricted because the state is no longer in a position to continue granting them.

This is an irrefutable truth, just as it’s also known that there existed many thousands of people that received wages without contributing in the least to profitability. The attitude of indifference toward work is held by an incredible number of working-age individuals, especially males.

On the street corners of many neighborhoods it has never been rare to see numbers of men hanging out who don’t work but instead live off the black market or crime. Now — with the time having arrived to set things straight, correct mistakes, make the law prevail and to comply with economic laws that must be applied in any country of the world — these changes are misunderstood.

These are times of crisis, and the changes the government is trying to bring about are —
out of ineptness — turning out to be harmful. We are not accustomed to these practices, and it’s becoming difficult to accept them. I’m putting aside the popular little song of the last commentary and propose a bolero that goes:

There is no doubt /
it is true that habit /
is much stronger…