Erasmo Calzadilla

Marino Murillo, a Vice-President and top official of the Cuban economy.

HAVANA TIMES — Marino Murillo, the so-called “reforms Czar”, has always struck me as a contemptuous person. The arrogance with which he speaks before those who allegedly represent the people, the self-confidence with which he addresses the thorny issues no one before him has been able to solve, and his body language, place him somewhere between a domineering public official and a neighborhood butcher.

These elements of body language, together with the concrete content of his pronouncements, make it seem as though Murillo does not appear before parliament to account for his actions but to threaten and scold the public, inform them at best.

I did however notice a certain change in his demeanor in his most recent public appearances: a distant melancholy in his eyes, an almost unnoticeable stammering, there where there was once resolve, less vigorous hand movements…

There were subtle signs of fatigue and doubt, signs that less sensitive spirits may not have noticed. The fact is that, in these appearances, his spiels did not make my blood boil.

Today, however, he once again set me off.

After referring to the re-establishment of a single currency monetary system and other labor-related provisions that would be implemented in the coming new stage of the reform process, the Czar said:

“These tasks are all the more complex because of the commitment towards the people we have. In other parts of the world, these things can be done much more easily.”

The phrases that Murillo often lets out reveal the real state of Cuba’s power relations and the way in which the governing class interprets the social contract.

In the Czar’s worldview, Cuba’s political stage is set up as follows:

On the one side, we have the people, not the real people but the people presupposed by the Party Guidelines: an innocent people, as helpless as a small child that tells the leaders its problems so that they can solve them.

On the other side of the equation we have the leaders: a group of know-it-all technocrats and responsible patriarchs who know what to do to solve the said problems, provided people work hard and remain disciplined.

If the technocrats wanted (this is the best part) they could solve social problems through unpopular measures, as their super-evil counterparts do in the rest of the world, but their commitment towards the people prevents them from going so far.

Ultimately, I am grateful for such unsubtle politicians, for politicians who think like foremen and bare themselves and call a spade a spade from time to time. I am confident such insolent remarks will someday end up angering Cubans and awakening their civic pride, their dormant dignity and their political awareness. If it happened to me, why can’t it happen to others?

Erasmo Calzadilla

Erasmo Calzadilla: I find it difficult to introduce myself in public. I've tried many times but it doesn’t flow. I’m more less how I appear in my posts, add some unpresentable qualities and stir; that should do for a first approach. If you want to dig a little deeper, ask me for an appointment and wait for a reply.

19 thoughts on “Cuba’s All-So-Kind Economy Czar

  • I take your point that life in other countries is worse, sat lest in some measures, than in Cuba. Certainly, life in Honduras lately is terrible, with the highest murder rate in the world.

    But the larger point of your argument is weak. Does the harshness of life in Honduras make life in Cuba any better? Does it absolve the Cuban government for their responsibility for their crimes, corruption and failed policies?

    Or are you trying to draw a false dichotomy; that the only choice for Cuba is to continue the Castro dictatorship or go the way of Honduras?

    Is it not equally possible to argue Cuba could be like Canada, prosperous and democratic, if only the Cuban people could secure their full rights and freedoms?

  • It’s good to know it is available. Perhaps some of the articles make it onto flash drives for wider distribution.

  • Dan, democracy and freedom are no guarantee for prosperity. I take your point that Guatemala is in many ways worse off than Cuba and is presumably a democracy. Here is where you fail to understand why the focus is on Cuba: Democracy is an end unto itself. That is to say that even a prosperous yet totalitarian country is still worth “saving” even while there exists poor but free and democratic countries nearby. Don’t take my word for it. Just ask a majority of the people who escaped eastern bloc Soviet regimes only to live humble lives in democratic countries. These people will say that despite the struggles in their new lives, they would not trade it for the repression and lack of freedom in their former lives. I simply do not agree with you when you somehow justify in your mind the harassment, arrest and beatings of the Ladies in White in Cuba by suggesting that Guatemalan women don’t even have white clothes.

  • My point, which should be obvious, is that life is in many respects much worse in countries just hundreds of miles away from Cuba. Countries which never suffered a blocade and which had all the “benefits” of a close relationship to the US. Yet there is no immense propaganda machine, of which HT forms a part, to highlight and portray everything and anything negative that occurs in those countries and to blame it all on the chosen political – economic system as is done here. If you acknowledge that conditions elsewhere in the hemisphere are much worse than in Cuba, and you profess a humanitarian motive for all your time spent bashing Cuba, while apologizing for or ignoring the problems elsewhere, you are either disingenuous, a ridged ideologue, or a paid contractor.

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