The Ideological Success of Neoliberalism in Cuba

Yenisel Rodriguez Perez

HAVANA TIMES, April 29 — The economic and social failure of neoliberalism is an established fact. In the economic sphere it has led the world into a deep crisis, while socially it has generated greater inequality than any previous economic model.

These effects are reported daily by the official Cuban media.

Despite this, we know that the Cuban government has affected a neoliberal shift in its reform policies.

Nonetheless, even today it’s difficult to find a direct connection between the socioeconomic “reforms” implemented by the government and fundamentals of international neoliberalism.

The similarities, which clearly exist, fail to form a definite pattern of neoliberal-style economic and social policy.

This is why it’s so difficult to follow the economic moves of the political elite in their desperate retreat toward the deregulation of the economy.

However at the ideological level, this complicity is apparent. It’s at this level that neoliberalism has become hegemonic in Cuba.

The ideological foundations of neoliberalism have achieved a tremendous success in the sphere of the government on the island.

The authorities have proclaimed the deregulation of Cuba’s economy as inevitable, as they quietly accept the consolidation of inequality as well as decreased social spending and the renunciation of full employment as a goal.

These are basic principles of neoliberalism, ones reflected by measures which they say should guide economic policy over the times to come.

The government is convinced that neoliberalism has won the ideological battle on the field of international relations, despite its economic and social failures.

Because of this they are paving the way for a future of the radicalized application of its principles of economic deregulation and social inequality.

Given this, the proposed real alternatives to the neoliberal model will remain the responsibility of the Cuban people and non-official social movements that are consolidating themselves across the country.

Those on top will continue to sell out the country to the highest bidder, which will always be some empire at the world scale.


Yenisel Rodriguez

Yenisel Rodriguez Perez: I have lived in Cuba my entire life, except for several months in 2013 when I was in Miami with my father. Despite the 90 miles that separate Havana and Miami, I find profound reasons in both for political and community activism. My encounter with socio-cultural anthropology eight years ago prepared me for a commitment of love for cultural diversity.

9 thoughts on “The Ideological Success of Neoliberalism in Cuba

  • Hold on cowboy! Who says neoliberalism has FAILED? The albeit severe structural adjustments that have taken and will continue to take place in Europe and the US are a part of the cyclical reallocation of human and material resources endemic to modern capitalism. Marxists made the same pronouncements during the 1930s. Once available resources have been reassigned to more efficient and profitable uses, productivity will rise again, unemployment will fall and economies will boom. Socially, the pain of these “adjustments” is reflected in the number of disaffected available workers left un- and underemployed. Through innovation and the redirecting of capital towards more speculative but highly profitable ventures, the social pains will lesson if not disappear. This is how it has worked for more than 200 years. Save the neoliberalism eulogy just yet. You may be needing it for a post-Chavez Cuba soon.

  • neo-liberalism fails and does not fail, like marxist economics, according to your point of view. the liberalisation of capital markets in america has led to severe recession. the repeal of the glass-seagall act was a mistake. if bankers, stockbrokers, mortgage brokers and insurance companies didn´t know that derivatives and credit default swaps would lead to disaster then these guys should be flipping hamburgers. when a very large percentage of borrowers have no prospect of paying then insuring against default is useless. the insurance company goes belly up. dead. it´s the same in europe. you can´t have a common currency without a common financial policy in every country. i thought that central bankers had brains. they are brain dead. alan greenspan thought that derivatives and credit default swaps were wonderful things. “the crash of ´29” by john kenneth galbraith is instructive. the same thing was going on with derivatives and credit default swaps. derivatives and credit default swaps were a valueless currency that every finanacial institution was dealing in and everyone hoped to get to the door first. this is similar to playing musical chairs. in the end, a secret meeting of top bankers in palm springs decided to pull the plug but they were all already in too deep. individual scumbags saved their fortunes. with soviet style economics everyone has the basics. but not a lot of people have very much. with extreme poverty and billionaire oligarchs in russia and china many people would like the good old days back. so my opinion is that all economic systems fail to meet the needs of everyone.

  • Yenisel says, “the proposed real alternatives to the neoliberal model will remain the responsibility of the Cuban people and non-official social movements that are consolidating themselves across the country.” I take this to mean that only the people can save the Cuban revolution.

    If this is what is meant, it’s really depressing, because the vanguard political party (the PCC) is supposed to be leading the Cuban revolution toward higher and higher economic and social advance. If it’s not doing so, then Cuba is in deep trouble.

    But if the responsibility for saving Cuban socialism devolves upon the people and their social movements, Yenisel is wasting his time and his words. He is not dealing with transformational theory on any level. He is commenting of the sorry state of things, but is not advancing any theory or any program of action to turn things around. Saving the Cuban revolution seems to be his opportunity for look-at-me journalistic flourishes.

    Neo-liberalism is a route by which the international banking establishment seeks to continue and enhance its exploitation of the working peoples of the world through interest on massive public credit debt, credit debt that has been “poofed” into existence by the mere fact that the banks control all the capitalist governments. Yenisel says nothing about the banks or their parasitical interest racket, the real evil heart of neoliberalism.

    Perhaps, in order to help the people and their social movements, he will write another article with some programmatic substance.

  • the government wants to be neo-liberal but they don´t know how. the government wants employment but most new employment is the same things. too many pizza and ice cream shops for those with a ground floor apartment. thailand has 6% working in tourism. a large part of thai tourism is backpackers many of whom stay in thailand and nearby countries for up to 1 year because they are gap year students. backpackers spend more than any other group but they spend more slowly. cuban tourism revenues could be doubled within 3 years by freeing the market in backpacker small hotels/hostels like thailand etc. backpacker hotels make more money for the capital investment than luxury hotels which the owners of sofitel, melia and super clubs don´t seem to realize. thailand could be re-created in cuba. there´s 80 campismo small hotels. the area around hotel lido could be another khao sahn road. backpacker island, ko samui, could be re-created in the sabana islands. bayamo could be chiang mai. then let anyone open a backpacker hostel in their house like thailand and let the market decide how much money they make. the eastern playas del este would be an ideal backpacker area. more environmentally friendly hiking/camping trails could be opened with camping equipment sales at airports. but the ministry of immigration should stop wasting tourists´ time and driving tourists out every 2 months. the best visa system is filipino. unlimited visa extensions at a small price and hotels and travel agents get the visas for a small fee. it is hard to find cuban travel guides. lonely planets etc. should be sold at the airports. there is something practical that can be done for the economy instead of debate about the merits of neo-liberalism. just do it. the nike slogan.

  • grady ross daugherty is another ideologue like moses but of the left rather than the right. non-official social movements are ignored as much as possible by politicians all over the world. left or right politicians, it doesn´t matter. non-official social movements can have some effect but smart politicians try to get ahead of the curve by anticipating the demands of the voters. laura norder is a big one. law and order. but as i pointed out in a previous comment, count your blessings AND be careful what you wish for. some european cities want to get rid of cars and some have already. no money for cars means clean air and few pedestrian deaths apart from those killed in cars. hongkong is probably the only place with less street crime than cuba. i met an anti-regime guy in habana. he told me that the dominican republic had many millions more tourists than cuba. it´s true. they are sex tourists and the dominican republic has a very high HIV infestion rate. cuba has 1 of the lowest HIV infection rates in the world. further, like many countries in the region, the sex industry is run by americans for the profit of american companies. like in many corrupt and right wing countries the electricity system is no good. backpackers tourists is what the ministry of tourism should be concentrating on like thailand but there are no backpacker hotels and hostels in cuba. backpackers spend more than any other group including chinese women who want a few GUCCI handbags. but backpackers spend their money more slowly. there is another group that spends more than the chinese. australians. the cuban ministry of tourism should do some research.

  • La ignorancia de las leyes economicas que rigen el sistema socialista de economia, es uno de los factores que se publiquen articulos como el presente. Todo el que tiene un poco de conocimientos sobre filosofia, economia y marxismo, asi como sus antecesores, sabe perfectamente bien que nadie en el actual y pasado mundo, sabe como se construye una sociedad socialista en pais alguno del mundo, emitir enunciados como lo es el titulo de este articulo, es como lanzarse al espacio desde un avio a 30,000 pies de altura sin paracaidas, el resultado todo sabemos cual seria.

    El hecho concreto y sin posibilidades de rechazo alguno, es que Cuba y su proceso, se han visto desde hace mas de 50 anos bajo la inmensa, poderosas y criminal politica de aislamiento economicos, financiero y comercial, que ojos humanos hayan visto, por tanto emitir criterior como los enumerados en este articulo, sin tener en cuenta las condiciones y los resultados de las politicas agresivas del gobierno de los Estados Unidos de America contra la Isla, es otro error, para decirlo mejor es un horror y un total desconocimiento sobre las situaciones en que se ha desarrollado el proceso cubano hasta el presente.

    Los errores de la pasada y presente direccion de gobierno de la Isla, son irrelevantes al hacer cualquier analisis, pues no ha existido ni existe pais alguno en la faz de la tierra que haya tenido y tenga las situaciones que ha atravesado y atraviesa la Isla en sus relaciones internacionales, desde el criminal y genocida bloqueo, hasta las mas aberrantes presiones de indole politica, comercial, financierea y social que se haya conocido por pais alguno en el mundo, esto obliga a tomar decisiones socio-economicas, como las que se aplican en la Isla en la actualidad, pues es preferible un paso hacia atras en la politica de igualdad social, que la destruccion del proceso cubano, que aun con ese paso hacia atras, mantiene los elementos fundamentales de apoyo y seguridad para la poblacion, lo que libra al pueblo de caer en el capitalismo salvaje, brutal e inhumano que hoy prevalece en el mundo desarrollado, asi como de sus crisis economicas, sistemicas e insalvables.

    Es cierto que el hombre piensa como vive, y a no dudarlo el escritor de este articulo vive en el neoliberalismo, sino real y concreto por vivir en un pais capitalista, lo vive en su mente y en sus deseos de llegar a esos lugares donde se aplica dicho concepto economico, con los resultados que todos conocemos de hambre, miseria, abandono social y humano de los ciudadanos que no tienen en sus manos la posibilidad, no de riquezas materiales, sino de un trabajo decente y honesto que le permita mantenerse y mantener a su familia, todos sabemos que el neoliberalismo es la principal, aunque no la unica causa de los desastres economicos en nuestra America Latina , el Caribe y el mundo, sino preguntenle a los 20 millones de desocupados en Espana y a los del resto de Europa, que hoy se debate en una de las situaciones economicas mas criticas y dificiles de superar por la Union Europea, cuya desaparicion esta a punto de ocurrir mas temprano que tarde.

    Aqui hay que aplicarle a este escritor, un viejo dicho, y este es que para comer pescado y decir falsedades hay que tener mucho cuidado, pues se le puede atragantar en la garganta y no habra medico, ni el chino, que lo salve de este horror.

    • En España se vive mucha desigualdad y desempleo tras años de mieles y dinero fácil. Ciclos del capitalismo.
      Malo. Cuando no se esta en el fondo del ciclo la vida neoliberalista no esta tan mal, pero no nos gusta sufrirlos ciclos.

      Cuando estuve en la Isla vi gente pidiendo comida, diciendo que no les llegaba. Puede que sea por el aislamiento, pero se ha visto que nada se puede hacer ya contra eso. Malo también.

      Quien tiene un tercer modelo? Uno de verdad, diferente, basado en una solida teoría económica como los otros dos. Donde están los Mar y Smiths y Keines de nuestro siglo?

  • the basic dispute between the left and right everywhere is how to cut the cake. there are a lot of wannabe cake cutters but few cake bakers. you can´t cut the cake until a cake is baked. when a country has had soviet style economics for a long time and government ministries don´t do much economic research the best way to get things moving is a business magazine. india has 4. until there is a business magazine havana times could have acticles on industries suitable for cuba. not steel, cars, trucks or electronics. imported business magazines could provide a model. my favorites are businessweek, the far east economic review and the economist.

  • i seem to be having problems submitting comments. this has happened before. i wrote about 20 lines that have been lost.


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