By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – Change of direction. This has been the Cuban economy’s path ever since the Stalin-Fidel version of socialism was established in our country.
We all know that the new COVID-19 pandemic has made the economic crisis we’ve been suffering since last year worse, part of the Great Crisis we Cubans have been suffering for over the past 60 years.
From one crisis to another we go. The fact is that we never come out of one before entering another.
Right now, the ruling oligarchy, disguised as the workers’ vanguard, decided to open foreign currency stores, to encourage an influx of this currency within the national economy. The dollar is now exempt from the 10% tax that weighed it down since 2004 and was pretty much extortion.
Cubans who are lucky enough to have family ties with old “scum, traitors and stateless worms” (who are now called community members or emigres), can buy food, cleaning items, etc. in dollars at these above-mentioned stores, which appear to be well-stocked overnight, as if by magic. The hostage situation of these Cubans is being stressed. Their family members abroad won’t let them starve to death, and the government hopes to take advantage of that.
The exact opposite exists for Cubans who don’t have family abroad, who have to navigate precarious supplies in CUP or CUC stores, which have been suffering shortages for a year now, with long lines and people desperate to buy basic essentials such as food, cooking oil, soap and toothpaste.
The fate of many fellow countrymen is looking bleak, within this landscape. If CUC stores have been empty, up until now, what will they offer in the next few months now that these dollar stores are being stocked up?
In the end, the blame doesn’t fall upon a system of government with a disastrous economic model, but on the US “blockade”, which is allegedly responsible for all of our misfortune, including our limited freedoms.
A “blockade” that doesn’t stop Cuba from having trade relations with more than 75 countries.
A “blockade” that doesn’t stop them from buying food from the US.
A “blockade” that hasn’t stopped remittances from the US coming into the country, valued at billions of dollars every year.
However, it seems we’re doing well because, according to government statements, “no Cuban will be left helpless.” Hollow and demagogic words that has been repeated over the years like a mantra, in spite of so much hardship and shortages.
The reality is that nothing guarantees a hard-working Cuban access to medicine, food, cleaning and hygiene products, clothes, shoes, housing, building materials, and a long etc. of other things, in normal times.
The only hope for those of us who haven’t fallen into fear or the apathy of an entire nation, is in the age-old maxim coming true: Nothing lasts forever and there’s nothing we can’t resist.