Shock Therapy in Cuba

Veronica Vega

Foto: Juann Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – “A country’s achievements shouldn’t be defined by how many hotels are being built, but by the quality of a meal,” I heard a man say in line at the bakery. (He was referring to statistics that official media publish everywhere, which are so optimistic, biased, cynical).

Yes, this meal which for ordinary Cubans represents the climax of physical and mental efforts, the present guaranteed, a rest from uncertainty. Food which replaces intellectual dreams and dreams of the spirit, even vanity, condemning us to live in a never-ending primitive state.

People are already complaining everywhere, openly, making astute analyses about our economic reality, that I find myself asking how long we have left until the last veil falls.

The veil that will allow them to directly name the one responsible: the government, guilty of leading a disastrous administration which has made us not a third-world island, but completely cut off from the rhythm of the rest of the world.

However, not even the most playful dare to step outside the mold, where the dysfunctional status quo we suffer every day, remains afloat with bureaucrats, corruption, a lack of information, freedom (to speak, to act, to influence our own fates), in a swarm without any solutions.

However, we know that the blockade is an excuse that no longer convinces anyone. That the enemy country, or any first-world country, is the objective for real, possible, potential, imaginary migrants… Because young people are growing up feeding this loss of identity and an uprooting.

In 60 years, the national housing crisis, the transport crisis and wages crisis still haven’t been resolved! The problem of children not being able to ensure their parents are looked after because they can barely support their own offspring, or themselves.

That young women don’t want to give birth in a country with no future, that families need to accept being separated by exile, like they did in the ‘80s, ‘90s, in the first decade of the new millenium. Because Cuba continues to be a way station. A chaotic society where you can’t start a company, a business or a cultural event without suffering harassment, financial and political preessures. Meanwhile, progress always hangs in the balance between two alternatives: making a pact and selling your soul or standing up to the system and becoming a social outcast.

This compassionate veil which separates Cubans from the last reality that could be revealed if they just stopped reading the press, watching TV where we are shown an invented country. If only they stop sitting down with the Weekly Package or any jumble of movies, shows, series, telenovelas which hypnotize with other people’s stories, incapable of changing our lives.

It’s a fact that the media controls the world. If Cuban TV were to show the real Cuba we live in, people would take to the streets in revolt. Some might not do this to reclaim their civil rights, but their right to remain hypnotized.

If just for a day, the city with its broken streets and pavements, blocks and blocks in poor condition; with jam-packed buses, people being mistreated, bitter, their elderly all withered; meters of garbage and unbreathable vapors; the impossibility of living directly and honestly off of our income (without “diverting” which only humiliates and punishes us); if all of this were something we were forced to think about and reflect upon; the last veil would immediately come crashing down.

Veronica Vega

Veronica Vega: I believe that truth has power and the word can and should be an extension of the truth. I think that is also the role of Art and the media. I consider myself an artist, but above all, a seeker and defender of the Truth as an essential element of what sustains human existence and consciousness. I believe that Cuba can and must change and that websites like Havana Times contribute to that necessary change.

4 thoughts on “Shock Therapy in Cuba

  • The most pressing and debilitating problems facing Cuba are self-imposed. Low agricultural productivity and high outmigration are fundamental weaknesses that have nothing to do with the US embargo and everything to do with the failed Castro regime.

  • Cubans do not need another CHE. Cubans need freedom to believe in whoever they please

  • Cuban’s are caught in a dilemma. The present economic system is not providing the basic necessities for the average Cuban. But what are the alternatives? The mixed economy plan was approved by the CPC but its implementation is slow. But even when it begins to have an impact, obstacles will remain.

    The operation of a “market economy” in most of Latin and Central America has produced a small but thriving middle class. But it has left significant poverty in its wake. It has also come at the cost of massive international loans and structural adjustments (cuts in social services) to pay those loans.

    What that means is that sovereign states in the Americas have had to sell off significant economic resources, such as telecommunications, power facilities, banks, and agricultural land. In exchange, they get loans for development. But no sooner than the company becomes more efficient, foreign banks will buy it out and raise prices.

    There are no easy answers, but here is a possible option. Cuba has an abundance of agricultural land but much of it remains devoted to sugar production and the collective farms suffer from low wages and young people fleeing to the cities for better opportunities. Cuba is not alone on this issue. The same is happening throughout the Western hemisphere.

    But Cuba, at least in theory, has the capacity to be agriculturally self-sufficient. This is key because any country that cannot feed its own population becomes very vulnerable to foreign economic pressure. China recognized this in the 1950’s and fed itself completely from internal resources until it became a capitalist economy. It now imports massively from the US but that’s another story.

    There is no magic potion to make the hard work of farming more profitable and life in the country more rewarding for young Cuban’s. But it would make some of Cuba’s transition to a mixed economy less dependent on the US dollar for food imports, many of which are simply unhealthy junk foods. If dollars get drained off for food, then Cuba will have less for serious development.

    Can it be done? I don’t know. Only Cubans can answer that question.

  • I have heard this same sad story for 20 years or so and it still makes me sad and extremely mad. I am so sorry that my country is so ignorant about this “blockade” issue. While my government wants a significant change in Cuba, it refuses to be the impetus of that change by simply dropping the blockade. I think that they want to see an armed revolt with a lot of dead people before we make a move. Maybe when we finally impeach Trump, things will change. As I’ve said for many years, Cuba needs another Che. You need a focal point. A person around whom you can place your support, hopes , and dreams. Obviously, someone who is not in Cuba. Someone who has a, dare I say it, capitalistic plan that would benefit every single Cuban, even the Army. Mira, I’m on a role now, this person would absolutely guarantee to double, maybe triple, the pay of every person in the military. He would offer whatever financial and social benefits required to get the Army on his/her side. Then this person could absolutely guarantee that once he/she came to power as the President, the flood gates of economic change would be wide open to every Cuban. Billions and billions of dollars of investment capital would flow into the new government who would spend 90% of all funds on infrastructure and the People, keeping in place the wonderful Socialistic programs for free medical and education, plus you might add a few more. This would in fact be a “soft” military coup that everyone would embrace. When the word coup is used on the nightly news, it’s usually describing a military government takeover. However, in the business section of the daily newspaper, coup might refer to a big corporation landing an important contract or deal. In this case, the Cuban People is the big corporation who is landing the big contract for Cuban social and economic FREEDOM. Yes, this is a dream. But, remember that “just a dream” founded both of our countries !!

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