Vincent Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — A close look at the island’s economy, both from Cubans residing in the country and those living abroad, marked the second day of discussions at the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy conference in Miami. An overriding conclusion was that the urgent need for expanding the changes in motion requires political decisions still forthcoming.
Dariela Aquique Luna, a freelance reporter from Santiago de Cuba spoke on the theme “Cuba, a new economic model or capitalize on the excitement of Latin American integration?” She delves into the origins of the so-called “Updating” process, seen as a political move attempting to once again save the prevailing power in Cuba, taking advantage of the progress of the political forces of the left in Latin America, especially Venezuela and Brazil.
Aquique, who writes for both Havana Times and Diario de Cuba, leads us to believe that the current Cuban government will continue the political game started by the “updating” process but without further reforms. As such, she thinks it will be unable to unleash the country’s productive forces.
Jorge Ignacio Guillen Martinez, a student at the University of Havana, described a grim reality experienced today in Cuba, based on a survey revealing an apparent deterioration process observed when evaluating the relationship between the changes, their direction and what should be the objective of any economic reform: improving the human condition.
Over 75% of those responding said the current process of changes has not meant an improvement for them. The existence of a deep anthropological damage in Cubans is the main conclusion of this young man from Pinar del Rio. He sees a pressing need to release the forces of stagnation in the economy, promoting private ownership and business development, if they want to rescue the society from its current debacle.
Another panel discussed the crucial issue of labor rights within the economic changes, and the need for the contribution of independent Cuban unionism. Also analyzed was the Mariel Port mega project, considering the variables of its limited success thus far in the context of international trade.
The day’s panel sessions then ended with a plenary and the presentation by former Cuban diplomat Miriam Leyva, widow of the economist and human rights activist Oscar Espinosa Chepe. Miriam analyzed the transition taking place in Cuba and relations with the United States. She opted for a new political approach based on constructive steps that abandon old dogmas, such as the Yes or No on the controversial issue of the embargo.
The fact is that changing Cuba requires a continued exchanging of ideas, expanding the ability of Cubans to learn about experiences beyond the island’s borders, facilitating visits to the country by US citizens, as well as training entrepreneurs. In summarizing, opening doors and building bridges.
The XXIV Annual Conference of ASCE ends today with an emphasis on issues related to foreign investment and the new legal framework as well as the mass media and culture. Undoubtedly, the event is planting a seed for a future harvest.