It All Begins January 1st

By Pedro Pablo Morejon

HAVANA TIMES – Ever since the morning of December 10th, state-controlled media – i.e. Cubadebate, Granma, Juventud Rebelde, etc. -, announced that important news would be given to the Cuban people after the National News on Cuban TV and radio.

Rather brief, the announcement gave rise to a lot of speculation. I went to the trouble of reading some comments from readers on the Cubadebate website. Some were saying that this had to do with the famous Day 0, others were saying that it had to do with the COVID-19 situation.

The reality is that people’s uncertainty grew as the day drew on. I rarely ever put on the [government] news, so I prepared my stomach to sit through it. But I only put it on at 8:45 PM, when I calculated that it would almost be over.

I had to call upon all my strength to get through lawyer/journalist Humberto Lopez’s comment, who was talking about human rights to commemorate Human Rights Day.

He let a few interesting gems slip in his long speech. While nobody has ever talked about human rights in Cuba, they have always been present in a social system that places humans at its heart. Supposedly these rights took on their real meaning after 1959. He also said that “we” guarantee them under “our own concept”.

The TV News finally ended. Then, the much-anticipated appearance came. There was Miguel Diaz-Canel sitting next to Raul Castro.

What Diaz Canel had to say

He indicated that on January 1, 2021, what they are calling the “Organizing Task” would begin. It involves the beginning of wage and currency unification reforms, the latter isn’t really what it says it is because US dollars will just be added to our currencies.

The US dollar will be worth 24 CUP, that’s to say, the State will buy, it at this rate. This is highly unfeasible in practice, because with currency devaluation on the horizon, people will prefer to sell their dollars for more on the street.  

Diaz Canel also said that prices would be fixed and that the violation of this new measure would be sanctioned. This is all meant to prevent higher inflation than what is already being expected. However, given the State’s zero capacity to supply demand, I doubt they’ll be able to enforce this. Much less when Diaz-Canel announced that everybody needs to contribute to fighting violations of prices.

He also added that amid the severe economic crisis, stemming from a stricter US blockade imposed by the Trump administration and the COVID-19 pandemic (I would also add the domestic blockade), the “Revolution” would leave no Cuban helpless. That slogan that became cheap demagogy a long time ago. It is completely out of touch with reality and the hardship Cubans face every day.

At the end of the day, we know that none of these measures will benefit the Cuban people. Only the beginning of a transition towards democracy and the ruling class granting real freedom to productive forces will put an end to Cubans suffering. We also know they won’t do this.

Read more from Pedro Pablo Morejon’s diary here.