Cuba Registers Negative Growth for 2016

Tourists in Havana. Photo: Juan Suarez
Tourists in Havana. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – Despite the high profile tourism boom, the Cuban government reported today that the national economy actually contracted by 0.9 percent in 2016, compared with 4.4 growth percent the year before.

The official annual data confirms the slowdown already announced during the first half of the year, when the government reported a growth of only one percent, which lowered the possibility of reaching the projected two percent for this year.

Economy and Planning Minister Ricardo Cabrisas told the National Assembly that the causes of the negative growth included decreased exports and the economic difficulties of allies led by Venezuela.
“This confirms the tense situation we face with the availability of foreign currency, non-compliance with the plan for exports and strong limitations on the supply of fuels that cannot be reversed in the short term,” Cabrisas told the deputies.

Despite the poor results this year, Cabrisas expects an improvement in 2017 with a two percent increase in GDP, thanks to higher growth in the sugar industry and the hotel sector.

Increases are also expected in the areas of transport, communications, agriculture, forestry, trade and manufacturing, according to the optimistic official website “Cubadebate.”

Snack time. Photo: Juan Suarez
Snack time. Photo: Juan Suarez

The economic data was offered today in the Cuban Parliament, which held only its second plenary session of the year, as usual behind closed doors, and without access to foreign or alternative national media.

The Venezuelan political and economic crisis affects Cuba because of the decreased sale of crude oil to the island via soft loans and also the difficulty of Caracas to contract professional services from the Cuban government for Venezuelan social programs.

The Cuban government also noted that despite the rapprochement with the Obama administration, Washington has not yet lifted the half-century plus embargo on the island.

“The immobility in the application of the commercial and financial economic blockade against Cuba by the United States included increased fines imposed on international organizations that carry out transactions with our country despite the announcements of Obama,” said Cabrisas.

8 thoughts on “Cuba Registers Negative Growth for 2016

  • Meanwhile, in our own Empire of Illusions, the growth rate is manipulated in the ways stats are compiled, manipulated and interpreted. Who is sharing in the so-called growth here in the U.S.? Certainly NOT MOST OF US! More than 90% have not only seen their standard of living stagnate, but even decrease. (e.g. most retirees living on Social Security and small supplemental pensions have actually seen their purchasing power shrink by over 10% since 2000. One of the tricks is to not even count that substantial percentage of the population between the ages of 18 and 55 years of age who have “given up” on looking for a job. Although some of these folks are, undoubtedly, involved in the grey/underground economy, most are living off S.S.I., S.S.D.I., or those relatives who are still employed.
    From what I see in my own community, the economy continues to deteriorate, as reflected by the numerous empty storefronts (even though my local town had, heretofore, been somewhat immune from earlier declines in the old “downtowns” due to the departure of their manufacturing base. Since we are in a mountainous, rural state, our community depended more on a “carriage trade” of tourists, vacation- and second-home owners, trust-funders, etc. Now, though, even “big box” stores, such as Home Depot, J.C. Penny’s, have departed. Many restaurants, including chains like Friendly’s, likewise stand empty etc. Evermore, not only the downtown core, but even “the strip” leading out of town, remind me of the desolation of those downtown shopping streets, like Galiano , during the 1960’s-early 2000’s, before foreign investors, plus expatriate Cuban family money, started pouring in. Hence, in reality, the U.S. economy continues to shrink FOR MOST OF US, ( if not the 1% and their 4% to 6% legal and accounting acolytes ) ! At least in Cuba there is an adequate “safety net.”
    It should be interesting to see what will happen when Trump ends Obama Care, as he promises, and the Republicans slash Social Security by 17% in a few years, as they promise. Already, we see the dire consequences in Great Britain, where the Conservative government is dismantling the welfare state. I’ve been reading about the gutting of the National Health Service and the slashing of several essential services to elders, like day programs, conglomerate meal sites, etc. (see such new British sites as The Canary, Novaris, etc.)

  • Agreed (that is to say “Agree to disagree”)

  • Then, Moses, we can agree to disagree. To say or imply that history’s longest and cruelest embargo ever imposed by a mighty nation against a weak one has not had a fantastically negative “impact” on the Cuban people is, frankly, ridiculous. What if, since 1962, the U. S. had an economic embargo against Canada or Mexico instead of being the biggest trading partner of those two nations on our northern and southern borders? Are you telling me that, in that case, the Canadian and Mexican people would not have been adversely affected? Some economists believe even a Canada or a Mexico would have been, inflicted with such economic restraints, brought to their knees. Puerto Rico — which came under U. S. dominance after the 1898 Spanish-American War…like Cuba — is a U. S. Territory with U. S. citizenry rights, including voting and financial benefits. And today Puerto Rico is so broke that it can’t pay its bills and is looking to the U. S. Congress to bail it out as many thousands of Puerto Ricans flock to the U. S., evoking parallels but major differences with Cuba — one unmercifully targeted and the other a Territory.

    It is also self-servingly ridiculous for anti-Castro zealots to keep regurgitating such absurdities as “U. S. Law” relating to Cuba. Instead of choking on Batistiano propaganda, if you read either of two volumes of “What Everyone Needs to Know” by a truly great and unimpeachable author and Cuban expert — Julia E. Sweig — you will discover in excruciating detail that, once the Bush dynasty anointed Jorge Mas Canosa the leader of the Cuban exiles and advised him to study and replicate AIPAC, a passel of smart lawyers and a few roguish Congressmen such as Torricelli and Helms wrote laws enacted by Congress that people like Torricelli and Helms bragged would bring Cuba to its knees and eliminate Castro within “three weeks,” according to the infamous Torricelli. Those laws, Moses, left such things as the embargo strictly in the hands of Congress and imposed restrictions on changing it that no nation could abide by without being willing to hourly lick the boots of the Miami extremists. If Cuba didn’t lick those boots hourly, those congressional laws were written as unchangeable. Such extremists in a foreign nation allowed to usurp democracy for their own revenge or other rewards has shamed America for decades, and fostered a second generation of Batistiano disciples just as eager to feast at that lucrative trough. All nations of the world tremble at the prospects of a superpower imposing its will on a weaker nation and refusing to allow it to have input in charting its own course — whether it be Russia in Crimea, China on South China Sea islands or the United States in Cuba. You, Mauricio Claver-Carone, Ros-Lehtinen, the Diaz-Balarts and all the extremist benefactors keep referencing “U. S. law” without ever mentioning how and by whom such laws were written. For example, on Dec. 26th Ros-Lehtinen and the Diaz-Balart brothers held a news conference — 41 minutes of which are still on the network courtesy of CBS 5 in Miami — to celebrate the death of Fidel Castro. At one point, the Havana-born Ros-Lehtinen turned to congratulate the Havana-born Lincoln Diaz-Balart for “writing” some of those indelible Cuban laws. The Diaz-Balart brothers are the sons of Rafael Diaz-Balart, a key Minister in the Batista-Mafia dictatorship and, of course, one of the richest and most powerful exiles — behind only Canosa — of the anti-Castro zealots who dictated politics in Miami and eventually in Congress, especially after the Bush dynasty greased the skids to send Ros-Lehtinen to Congress way back in 1989 when Jeb was her Campaign Manager. I am still waiting for a moderate Cuban-American to be eligible to be elected to Congress from Miami, considering that the majority of Cuban-Americans even in Miami agree with President Obama’s decent and sane Cuban policies as opposed to an indecent and insane Diaz-Balart policy that the rest of the world, by a 191-to-0 vote, also considers indecent and insane. While I have great compassion for millions of totally innocent Cubans on the island, my main concern about America’s decades-old Cuban policy is how very, very much it harms both America and democracy in the eyes of democracy-lovers everywhere — in the U. S. and around the world. The supporters of that policy, in my opinion, could care less about how much harm it does to my two prime passions — America and democracy.

    If the foregoing sounds “repetitive” to you, Moses, I believe repetition is worthwhile IF it is done in the interests of 11.2 million innocent Cubans, the United States of America, and democracy. And no amount of bullying by self-anointed but self-serving pro-Batista or pro-Batistiano advocates will deter my sincere beliefs in those three basic entities. By the same token, my repetitiveness will end here because I have come to believe that the Batistiano cancer, when it can spread so wickedly into a Trump White House after it has already ravaged Congress, will be fatal as far as the United States, as envisioned by the Founding Fathers, is concerned.

  • Thank you for a thoughtful, albeit repetitive, reply. In short, I reject any association with the Batista dictatorship which preceded the Castros dictatorship. I should also add that I SUPPORT lifting the embargo under the conditions set forth in US law. If I had the chance to speak with Nelson Mandela, I would not waste such a precious opportunity on this issue. To be sure, I can remain a huge fan of Mandela and disagree with his friendship with Fidel Castro. Finally, the US embargo has failed to impact the Cuban people as you suggest. The problems Cubans face on a daily basis are largely a result of the failed policies implemented by the tyrannical Castro regime.

  • You purposely misread me, Moses, to support your anti-Cuban-people motives, which I assume are motivated by revenge, money or some sort of power base. Why didn’t you ask Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, John Kennedy Jr., Pierre and Justin Trudeau {the father-son Prime Ministers of Canada in the 1970s and today}, etc., etc., those questions…not little ole me? Take Marquez, for example. Many consider him to be the greatest all-time Latin American writer. Born in Colombia, he spent a long life as a vehement hater of foreign-backed dictators — Trujillo, Somoza, Videla, Mobutu, Pinochet, etc., etc. But for the last 55 years of his life, Marquez was Fidel Castro’s dear friend. So, your question of me would be much more appropriate if it was directed at someone such as Marquez. That being said, I’ll answer your question. I have never “defended the Castro regime” and you are a bully to say that I do; but, unlike you and other self-serving sycophants, I also don’t minimize or sanitize the unconscionably thieving and brutal Batista-Mafia dictatorship from 1952-till-1959 that gave birth to Fidel Castro and a rather transcending Revolution, one that perhaps led to waves of democracy across Latin America that had, for centuries, chafed under the yoke of foreign-backed dictators, with imperialist Spain and the proud U. S. and British democracies clearly listed as culprits. What I do defend, Moses, are the millions of totally innocent Cubans on the island who have suffered the most from the Batistiano-directed efforts to empower and enrich themselves on U. S. soil while also using the U. S. military, the U. S. CIA, and the U. S. treasury in their fervent but, so far, unsuccessful attempts to regain control of Cuba. For what purpose? To reinstall the Diaz-Balarts or other rich and powerful second generational Cuban-Americans whose revenge motives date back to connections with the Batista-Mafia dictatorship? In the meanwhile, six decades of punishing innocent Cubans on the island while creating a Banana Republic-type element on U. S. soil, all in the guise of annihilating Castro, is apparently as abhorrent to America’s best democracy-loving friends all around the world as it is to me, and the 191-to-0 UN vote supports that hypothesis, doesn’t it, Moses? Of course, if the transplanted Batistianos have vice-like dictation of America’s Cuban policy and Cuban narrative, it pretty much eliminates a democratic approach to Cuba. I’m a lifelong democracy-loving conservative Republican but the decades-long and unholy Bush dynasty alignment with the most vicious Batistianos altered that misconception. While I don’t “defend” the Castros, I do defend the everyday Cubans on the island who do not deserve being pounded by economic sanctions or by grenades hurled at them for six decades by miscreants hiding behind the skirts of the world superpower, a fact that helped empower and prolong the Castros while also extremely harming the image of the U. S. and democracy. It seems that polls even in Miami support Obama’s Cuban approach, not yours. I support Cuban-Americans like Miami’s Hugo Cancio who complains bitterly that as a moderate Cuban-American he and the majority millions like him are “not represented” because only visceral anti-Castro zealots can get elected to Congress, etc. What does that say about democracy? I defend Cuban-Americans like Miami newsman Emilio Milian who got car-bombed when he complained about such things as the civilian airplane bombing of Cubana Flight 455. The aftermath of such events, such as sanctuary on U. S. soil for the alleged and well-known perpetrators of such atrocities, doesn’t exactly shine kind spotlights on the U. S. democracy, does it, Moses? Therefore, my passion for Cuba relates purely to my passion for America and democracy. I believe putting America’s Cuban policy in the hands of the most vicious elements of the ousted Batista-Mafia dictatorship has done more harm to the images of America and democracy than anything else that has transpired since the end of World War II in 1945 and, in essence, perhaps since 1776. If I am wrong, Moses, why don’t you sanely answer this question: Other than America’s cruel and insane Cuban policy that mostly punishes innocent people in a much smaller and weaker nation, can you name one thing in this very disparate world that could possibly attain a unanimous 191-to-0 vote in the United Nations? And if you care to answer that question, please don’t start with how “toothless” that worldwide unanimity is because the U. S. has a UN veto, which it famously didn’t use in 2016 to negate that vote, and belittling that vote because the U. S. is the world’s nuclear power is merely typical of a bully. Somewhere and sometime the U. S. needs to correct its Cuban abomination, one that so drastically shames America’s best friends around the world while also so drastically pleasing America’s worst enemies in a troubled world. That being said, the U. S. democracy remains the best government ever devised and the U. S. remains the primary hope of depressed people around the world. On their way to recapturing Cuba, the Batistianos may yet have to capture the U. S. first, and that remains an intriguing possibility, especially in post-Fidel Cuba and with Republicans controlling Congress and, shortly, the White House. That’s what I think. And without calling me names, Moses, do I have a right to think about innocent people on a nearby island being pounded by rich, self-serving miscreants lavishing imperviously almost without impediments from the soil of a superpower?

  • I support the embargo. However I agree that it has mostly failed in achieving it’s original purpose. The annual UN vote is a sanction-free resolution. In other words….pointless. I have a question for you. You claim to support democracy yet you defend the Castro regime. How can you do that?

  • Celebrating hardship and negativism in a small, nearby, harassed nation is a typical but sad commentary on the lush, plush, unending Castro Cottage Industry in the United States, isn’t it, Moses? Your ilk remain a zero and the rest of the world a 191 in the pantheon of U.S.-Cuban relations. Eleven million innocent Cubans on the island deserve better than being pounded for six decades by imperialist thugs living in mansions and hiding behind the skirts of the world superpower. With Trump replacing the decent Obama, you must be ecstatic with those prospects, Moses. Shame on you. And before you hurl “Commie” at me, my passion is America and democracy and my Cuban passion relates strictly to how much a Batistiano-Mafiosi influence regarding that abominable policy harms America and democracy in the eyes and hearts of democracy-lovers around the world but is CELEBRATED WITH utter delight by America’s primary international enemies. Now, Moses, defend your motives…and start with the 191-to-0 UN vote that in bold unanimity disagrees with you and which you mock as “toothless” because, I guess, of veto powers and the difference in nuclear weapons from thousands to zero. Ever consider, Moses, how much the U. S. Cuban policy hurts America, or is that of no concern to you?

  • The Castros had predicted a laughable 4% growth rate for this year. Instead it contracted by nearly 1%. So if next year the projection is a pathetic 2%, and the same mistakes are made, then how bad must things really be?

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