Erasmo Calzadilla

Photo: Irina Echarry

HAVANA TIMES — The following is an excerpt from a piece published in the “Letters to the Editor” section of the Spanish edition of the official Granma newspaper:

“There might be other reasons to explain why productivity hasn’t increased, but what has been demonstrated so far is that the methods adopted haven’t succeeded, despite the years they’ve been employed.

“A completely different situation is happening with the prices of products and services that people have to buy for their everyday household needs.

“With the exception of the few products that are still on the ration book, but that only cover the needs for a part of the month, the other prices are constantly increasing. Some of those are because they’re imported and prices are increasing globally, while others are because these are artificially increased by self-employed vendors.

“Such prices are rising beyond the reach of the average family, whose situation is becoming extremely tense and in time will become unbearable.”    — E. Naranjo Torres

Almost all the letters in that section have a similar ring, with the fault being directed at and falling on self-employed workers, bureaucrats or capitalism – though the system itself remains intact.

The part saying the ration book “only covers the needs for a part of the month” is an inaccurate expression; it covers only some basic products for a fraction of the month. But apart from these digressions and inaccuracies, I think the man made some very bold statements: the economic reforms “haven’t succeeded” and “the situation is becoming extremely tense.”

If this same thing had been said by some blogger, no supporter of the revolution from abroad would have believed it. It’s true that there’s no starvation or a humanitarian crisis, but things are looking ugly and in time it’s likely “they’ll become unbearable.”

Raul’s reforms, at least in the capital, haven’t been successful. The GDP* has been on an uphill march since 1994, but the purchasing power of the average Cuban family seems to be going backward. It’s the same with health care, education, the availability of food and public transportation.

I sense a growing discomfort, but one that shows no signs of evolving into any kind of new political consciousness. It’s as if they’ve administered a vaccine against it.

If disturbances were to occur in the future, the political and economic elites would make the most of that at the expense of those who are the most passive and unorganized: the general public and the workers.

The distortion of political consciousness is a key in the construction of “socialism” – but it’s also its weakness.


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.

32 thoughts on “Cuba’s Slow Awakening

  • Lawrence:

    Again I repeat: It’s not up to me to give Cuba democracy and human rights. I say only that I am in favour of those things for Cuba. It is up to Cubans to demand their rights. What they then do with them, will be their business.

    It’s ironic to read Lawrence claiming the Occupy Movement is a blood brother of Cuban activists. I don’t imaging very many Cuban human rights activists would be much impressed by the Occupy protesters carrying portraits of Che and Mao and chanting Marxist slogans. And I haven’t seen any Cuban dissidents smashing up storefronts and throwing molotov cocktails like the Occupy thugs have done.

  • Does anyone else find ‘Griffin’ becoming a tad strident lately – “Larry buddy” – hardly; ‘smelling’ “personal insecurity” – the pot calling the kettle black?, “bullish*t” and “sh*t” – the use of swear words? Just noting the obvious.

    On to more meatier matters. Quoting half of a very short article and omitting the rest, thus changing its meaning, is a technique of propaganda.

    ‘Pointing out that ‘Griffin’ is a merchant of propaganda is viewed by him as a personal attack. If it was a false charge it might be construed as such but all the evidence indicates it is not. Why is ‘Griffin’ so fanatical about selling capitalism on a Cuban website? He claims “it’s for democracy and human rights” yet ignores the obvious breaches in his own country, instead choosing to support ‘democracy and human rights’ in Cuba? Spare us. Speaking of bad smells…

    ‘Griffy’ writes, “Larry doesn’t like facts”. I post lengthy comments chock full of facts that never get answered by ‘Griffy’. Now I know why – he obviously has difficulties differentiating facts from propaganda.

    ‘Griffin’ claims I have a “vision of the socialist paradise in Cuba”. Certainly nothing I’ve written would indicate that to anyone other than a propagandist erecting a false premise. I wouldn’t be reading Havana Times if I thought that, would I? What I mostly do, for perspective, is point out flaws in the vision of a capitalist paradise that folks like ‘Griffin’ forever foist on us.

    ‘Griffin’, knowing almost nothing about what I do in Canada states categorically, using a cuss word no less, that I’m doing nothing. Without realizing it, he’s giving away a lot about himself. The one thing he does know from what I’ve written is that I have been an active supporter and worker for the Occupy Movement in Toronto which is a blood relation to the activist groups in Cuba that are seeking changes in support of a better way of life for Cuban people – the same symbolic 99% that Occupy is focused on.

    Knowing of my support for Occupy and writing that I am doing nothing for Canada tells us what ‘Griffin’ thinks about movements that support the interests of the 99%. Yet he wants to “fix Cuba” by giving its people “democracy and human rights”. The bad smell is becoming really awful.

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