Is There a Fix for Cuba?

By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez

Photo: Yon Rey

HAVANA TIMES – To many Cuba appears to be in dire straits as if there was no solution to its chronic problems but at the same time it doesn’t die.

What we know as the “Revolution” was an armed victory in Cuba in 1959, with irrefutable popular support based on the promise of reinstating the 1940 Constitution. This would have meant democracy and rule of law, something we still need today because the work remains unfinished and instead improvement the country appears destroyed 60 years later.   

Let’s accept, hypothetically, that it was history that inevitably led Cuba to a rapprochement with the USSR and establishing Russian radical socialism on the island, taking refuge somewhat from the injured power (US), which didn’t accept the loss of a nearby area of important political and economic influence in the middle of the Cold War.

However, (if we are to follow this questionable line of reasoning), after more than half a century, it has become very clear that this decision blocked the path towards democracy and prosperity to one towards totalitarianism, political repression, economic disaster, hardship, migration, an ideological apartheid and cutting itself off from the world. Continuing on this same path has become a crime against humanity.

Today, we can definitely say that the situation in Cuba is a lot worse than it was in 1959. The country is in ruins and the system doesn’t even work to provide basic services. While the government that says it hates capitalism is the biggest capitalist in Cuban history, and doesn’t allow citizens to legally engage in free enterprise, not even to a small extent.

The Cuban people are at their wits’ end without transport, food shortages and without any hope of things getting better. From line to line and commotion to commotion, where people fight and even come to blows over a liter of cooking oil, a packet of detergent or a kilo of chicken.

What hope is there?

There is a political opposition movement that is advocating for democratic change, with different stripes depending on the position each group has. But divided and stigmatized, criminalized and repressed by the government. The worst thing is that the idea of winning and “wiping” out the Communists no matter what, prevails amongst them. They won’t accept any middle ground, or a negotiation, or dialogue, because there is so much bad blood after so much repression and forced exile.

Meanwhile, the government has absolutely no chance of getting the country back up off the ground. They have exhausted their ability to create hope about improvements (which have always been false), but they cheered people up for a short while.

The so-called “Guidelines” were the icing on the cake, the result of a national debate. A real let down, something which we could even laugh about if the consequences of this disgrace didn’t hurt so much. The system really is only surviving by clinging onto power and blaming the US embargo (which they call a blockade) and the opposition (which they call mercenaries) for their own incompetence.

For a long time now, all they have done is impede the change that Cuba needs, delaying our progress and trampling over our freedom. It seems that they will do this until our people manage to free themselves from the fierce social control they have on us via hardship and dependence.

The other thing that needs to happen is the Cuban people need to overcome the mental barriers, by some miracle, that stop them from advocating for the change Cuba needs, which is the best path forward. There’s no doubt about that. However, the reality is that nothing indicates that they will do this, even though this would in fact be achieving the Revolution’s own objective, with the Marti-style longing for a Cuba “with everyone and for everybody’s wellbeing. In short, the solution to our national crisis.

The divided political opposition can’t have a joint plan that is objective and it doesn’t look like they will be able to do this in the near future. Even though it plays an important and praiseworthy role as a display of resistance, it is very difficult that they will lead us to win a democracy in this current situation. Even more so if there is a strong sector that supports the embargo’s sanctions and a hypothetical military liberation intervention.

If we are to be realistic, there is only one possibility: that the peaceful opposition organizes with a plan that is in keeping with our reality, putting pressure on the government with the international community’s much-needed support; and is able to become a real option for the majority of Cubans and not just for a small radical group. In that way they could stir hope for success; and as a first option, it should always be willing to work with the government to map out the road towards democratic change, together.

I believe that a plan like this would be devastating for the official discourse and they would find themselves forced to negotiate and open democratic channels with immediate and exponential liberating results. However, the opposition needs to mature, put objectivity above passion and then, use their strength to pressure Diaz-Canel’s government to put his own slogan into practice: “think like a country”.

40 thoughts on “Is There a Fix for Cuba?

  • June 26, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    When at home in Cuba, I like most others, walk around daily. Whether it is walking our dog, going to the panderia to join those waiting for bread (Que es ultimo?), or to the centre of town, where one has to go to three different shops for canned goods, frozen products and supposedly dairy product (of which cheese is sometimes available), leaving ones shopping bag with “security” at each shop in succession.

    By taking such walks through the community over quite a lot of years, I observe a complete cross-section of society. On occasion if perchance purchases have been greater than normally available, I even take a bici-taxi going home – passing en-route the only evident productive business – that of a state controlled cigar rolling operation, with tobacco hauled in from distant Vinales – I can only assume that Pinar-del-Rio is unable to provide sufficient skilled workers.

    When I am next able to return home to Cuba, I shall search for and also enquire of others where I can find all the those changes and doubling of the private sector that Nick speaks of, as compared with the those which I have accurately described.

  • June 25, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    As I say Mr MacD, take a walk around and look at the businesses that have opened up. They’ve opened up only because the Government has taken the people that run them off the payroll?
    That’s some pretty big spin you’re putting on the situation.
    If you are determined to take a negative view, which you clearly do, then that’s up to you.
    If you prefer to be negative regarding the views and optimism about the future put forward by myself and others, then again that’s entirely up to you.
    I’m a natural optimist. And I’m optimistic about the future of Cuban 9 year olds. A lot more so than for 9 year olds in a great many other parts of the world.

  • June 25, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    Perhaps you haven’t noticed Nick that Raul Castro is alive and well, and still as First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, in control. Puppet Diaz-Canel clarified that when appointed by Raul, by noting that major decisions would still be made by comrade Raul. Maybe I should have properly named it the “Castro Ruz regime”.

    I reasonably accurately described the “private sector” in Cuba. Have you any additions to make? Any growth in that “private sector” is a consequence of the state ceasing to pay people, who then endeavor to eke out a living by purchasing a 200 peso licence from the MININT office and operating either from home, or on the streets pursuing the types of occupations I described.

    But do please provide illustration to support your view, can you describe anything additional to those I mentioned? I noted that as usual you explained that others elsewhere experience even worse conditions. I agree that time is moving on, leaving Cuba in its time-warp.

    I only wish that Cubans could be as happy as you are about their lives. As you are so optimistic, what differences do you anticipate a nine year old Cuban child being able to look forward to by the age of twenty one?

  • June 25, 2020 at 2:18 pm

    Yes, CUBA is locked into TIME! How do they get out of it and see a future for the entire country?
    Right now, the entire population could be diagnosed as having PTSD per the DSM-V for all the mental anguish they have endured over the past 60 years.
    No Help appears to be on the way from anyone. The blame game needs to stop against the USA. It is the inhumane treatment by the Cuban Government on it’s people that has caused other countries not to want to trade with them.
    When I was there 10 years ago both Germany and France were helping out since the Russian government had bowed out and now there is little Hope and Change on the horizon.

  • June 25, 2020 at 7:49 am

    And Mr MacD,
    To see the increase in Cuba’s private sector, you just gotta take a walk around. There is a stark difference in comparison to when I first had the privilege of setting foot in The Pearl of the Caribbean…….
    To try and convince anyone otherwise simply doesn’t play.

  • June 25, 2020 at 7:42 am

    Mr MacD,
    Some of your remarks are similar to you suggesting that today is Thursday and therefore tomorrow is Friday.
    In several comments on this thread I have mentioned the issues regarding the growing private sector in Cuba.
    I have specifically referred to State control over produce, imports and distribution as being a drawback. You refer to this problem as if I have not made prior mention.
    And as Dani has appositely pointed out, you appear to over personalise this. This constant reference to ‘Castro Regime’. And regular references to events of decades ago or to people who are long dead. Time is moving on.
    I am, as I say, cautiously optimistic. I’m sorry if you don’t share any optimism.
    Changes occur. Changes are occurring. As I say, I hope they speed up. But slow change is way preferable to any sudden violent change. Certainly for the safety and well-being of my loved ones in Cuba.
    When I look around this imperfect world I see lots of cause for concern. I see many places far worse off than Cuba.
    I’m most pleased for your sake Mr MacD, that your retirement is divided between Canada and Cuba – two highly safe options relative to a great many other parts of the world or parts of The Americas.
    I see plenty of far more disturbing developments elsewhere.
    As you know, I see the resurgence of the dreaded conservative/fascist hybrid as way more of an issue in comparison to the annoyingly slow pace of change in Cuba.
    But each to their own huh?

  • June 24, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    At no point Nick, did I suggest that the Cuban regime’s statistics are not as you described. My “idealistic” description of capitalism is precise and correct, as is my description that the means of production in Cuba are controlled by the state. I refrained from attaching adjectives.

    The Castro regime’s statistics which you obviously accept as “fact” are of dubious veracity. You are however, correct in thinking that I believe that my opinion based upon a combination of knowledge and observation of the “private sector” is more accurate. Capitalism in that sector doesn’t exist. Pushing a wheelbarrow is just that.

    What percentage of the working age population of Cuba, do you believe hold licences for “private sector” enterprise?

    Your adoption of the Castro regime’s description of the US embargo as a blockade, is revealing.

  • June 24, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    Mr MacD,

    Again we go round in circles.
    And yet again you try to place your opinion above fact.

    However, I think your idealistic description of Capitalism is completely wonderful and I’m not going to suggest anything further that may detract from this wonderful ideal.

    I’m cautiously optimistic regarding Cuba’s future regardless of the degree to which it may or may not fit into your Capitalist Idealism.

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