Cuba: A Change in Mentality

Jorge Milanes Despaigne

Number 213. Photo: Ariel Maceo Tellez

HAVANA TIMES — In December of last year, US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro simultaneously announced the steps being taken to normalize and reestablish diplomatic relations between the two countries after more than 50 years of conflict. The New Year naturally began with great expectations in both nations.

“We have to wait and see how things develop,” some people are saying down here. This is very true, because the mental and economic infrastructures developed in the course of more than fifty years cannot be changed overnight.

On the one hand, we have those who use the blockade to justify many problems that can be solved only through our own efforts. On the other, we have those who have lived off the contributions made to the anti-Cuba cause.

As I see things (and I am no analyst), this political industry will have to look for new clothes, as the potential for investment in both countries (though investment in Cuba is what is being promoted most) is very attractive. More has been lost over this past half century than what could have been gained.

Many Cubans are now dreaming with opening up their own businesses and conducting transactions with a single currency (after the CUC and CUP are fused into one) once economic conditions allow for these. Those who have the means are also hoping for the guarantees offered by a more robust market and a logistical design that will allow them to make wholesale purchases.

Those could be some of the measures that will impel these new restaurants, cafeterias, kiosks and other private businesses.

Whatever the case, the potential for profit-making is high.

The first US government delegations began arriving in Cuba mid-January. They are to discuss and analyze issues related to trade, immigration, communications and diplomatic relations between the two countries.

We’ll see what happens!

2 thoughts on “Cuba: A Change in Mentality

  • Smart man. Maybe we (usa-cuba) should be a little more like the Chinese. They look not for the immediate gain or lose to be had … but see many decades into the future with their planning. Lots to learn in such an approach.

  • The changes necessary to improve life in Cuba have nothing to do with the US and our embargo against Cuba. Cuban productivity is solely a result of the Cuban work ethic. When productivity increases, Cuba can increase exports and reduce the amount of food they import. Government corruption, and the way Cubans treat each other in the street again is a “Cubans-only” issue. Starting a business takes a little money to be sure. But what it really requires is hard work and ingenuity. Here at HT, there have been posts that highlighted small business that have been able to be started and then to thrive despite the embargo and largely because the Cuban who owned that business was willing to work harder than the norm. The tone of Jorge’s post, like the tone of so many Cubans I have spoken with recently, is one of hoping the somehow the US will provide the next handout to Cuba. The Castros have created a mentality of entitlement among Cubans. As the Venezuelan nursemaid seems to be on the wane, it appears that Cubans are hopeful that US tourists and US trade will replace the Venezuelan teat Cubans have grown accustomed to. Normalization with the US will not replace Venezuela is the same way that Venezuela replaced the failed Soviet Union. On the contrary, let the buyer beware. Doing business with the US usually means a cost greater than a benefit. The US did not become the great nation we have become by being on the losing end of the business deal.

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