By Rogelio M. Diaz Moreno (photos: Juan Suarez)
HAVANA TIMES — Over the last few days, the Cuban landscape has been clouded over by news about economic crises, migration problems and even sport delegation scandals. Today, we’re witnesses to a display of problems and reactions which, like few times before, reveal this obsolete system’s inherent limits and malformations.
It’s already been a few weeks since workplaces were given instructions about how to deal with the new economic hardships we face. Orientations about the cutbacks in resources, activities and timetables indicate that this Special Period is being drawn out, which some people still refuse to accept as they stand firm in their belief that we’ve already overcome this crisis. Finally, Cuban Economy Minister Marino Murillo officially informed the National Assembly of the People’s Power about the financial restrictions that were on the horizon.
Those who have recently landed on planet Earth may ask how it’s possible for a supposedly “planned economy” like ours, to be taken by surprise in this way. The conflicts in Venezuela, our main ally, have been developing for quite some time now, and our government should have had the foresight to plan how they’d deal with its repercussions.
Similarly, they’ve also known for quite some time now that oil prices have dropped and that its derivatives account for the most sold product by our country. All of the factors that had some influence in the negative outcome of the last sugar harvest, including the bad weather, were foreseeable.
A few years ago, the government promised us that the flow of capital that would result from the Foreign Investment law and the free trade zone of Mariel would lead to the successful development of Cuba. But it never materialized. The US blockade or embargo has been lifted slightly, but it still exists. And if the national financial administration in Havana continues to follow the disastrous plan of action they always do, it will only result in the same resounding demise; or rather, we’ll never be able to stand up on our own two feet.
Amidst all of this, sports leaders have also passed by the National Assembly to talk about how wonderful Cuba will perform at the upcoming Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. The vice-president of the Cuban Sports Institute, Jorge Polo, spoke cheerfully about athletes, different sports and categories, to the same legislators who had sat and listened to everything about the crisis. And nobody in the auditorium questioned the cost to maintain the high performance sports program, including the constant trips of Cuban delegations across the world, and the expenditure on expensive sports that aren’t very popular amongst the people.
If there had been a hint of democracy in budget allocations, maybe more pressing issues in everyday life would receive the important financial help they need. For example, our rundown hydraulic network, which continues to lose half of the water pumped towards thirsty towns.
At the end of the day, it’s not like the Cuban Parliament members can resolve a lot. At the most, out of modesty, they could abstain from validating, with their presence, an entity that not even the Cuban government authorities respect, like the outraged journalist Francisco Rodriguez Cruz noted.
The new blunders reveal the lack of foundations these programs dressed up by the local elite have, aimed at a progress that they’re never able to quite reach. Their inability to create overall progress can be seen in multiple ways. Agricultural produce is becoming more and more expensive or it’s sold on the black market, when they try to fix prices. Entire harvests have been lost in the furrows for the umpteenth time, in order to refute the hypothesis that increasing production will automatically lower prices.
The loss of qualified professionals robs the King of his fundamental resources, which the boasting facade of a prosperous and sustainable socialism has to conform by 2030. Quite simply, only a few of us are willing to wait that long, 71 long years after the day they promised the Cuban people happiness, when the Revolution succeeded.
If that wasn’t enough, the way in which power is distributed over different levels of government, only facilitates corruption. This diversion of resources, financial fraud and other illegal activities are our daily bread, which the desperate comptroller campaigns do nothing about. Calls to a working class consciousness are even less effective, as it is completely alienated and controlled by the leading protagonists of corruption.
Some low lever leaders and young intellectuals within the system warn, in fits of sincerity or courage, that the system is reaching its end. And in response, the government reinforces socio-political restrictions. This is the typical government response, but it doesn’t only apply to these kinds of daring acts. At times of economic boom, maybe they would have let it slide. But now we’re dealing with a financial crisis.
Therefore, this response is the last and best display of the ruling elite’s inability to channel the hopes and needs of a suffering people who have already made all the sacrifices they can. They order us to be silent. To wait for the circus that is the Olympics in order to distract ourselves from problems at home. They tell us that we’re not allowed to speak, unless it’s to discuss how bad the world is outside of Cuba.
With a bit of luck, we’ll slowly continue to internalize this “normal” capitalism law of the jungle, by ourselves, and without causing the government too much of a headache, while the last historic figures leave and the new generation of powerful men and women greedily take to the podium.