Cuba Looking for its Future

By Fernando Ravsberg

Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz

HAVANA TIMES — Cuba finds itself at a critical juncture in its history, where important decisions, like those made in 1902 or in 1959, need to be made. The only difference this time being that we’re no longer living under the suffocating rule of military occupation or in the middle of a full-blown revolution.

Today, every Cuban has the chance to voice their opinions and to help steer the country’s future. This is a right we all have but it’s also a huge responsibility because our children’s and grandchildren’s futures are hanging on the line.

Before the debates had even begun, some people, who believe they have a patriotic compass which puts them above the rest of us, took it upon themselves to decide which Cubans should be excluded from exchanging their opinions.

Cuba needs us to come to the debate without pretenses, to clearly express our well-thought out ideas. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz

They’re the ones who hope for a “Mesa Redonda”-style debate, where all those taking part say exactly the same thing. However, in this case, what’s on the table is so important that just pretending to discuss these issues would be to betray the Cuban nation and its future generations.

They instill fear to keep us from voicing our thoughts freely, they talk about Imperialism’s untrustworthy plans, capitalism’s Trojan horses, the danger of losing Cuban sovereignty and about crimes against equality. These truths are manipulated until they create one big fat lie.

What they don’t tell us is that in the middle of such volatile times, the biggest danger we face is staying put, immobile. All of the dangers they warn us about are real but the worst thing we can do is to continue stuck in our ways, in the trenches because “that’s how we’ve managed to survive for 50 years.”

Extremists are popping up on both the left and the right, attacking the warming of relations between Cuba and the US. Ironically, some criticize Obama for giving in without overthrowing the socialist regime and others criticize Raul Castro for having opened up the country to capitalism.

A few days ago, I was speaking to a politically active young man who told me that Raul’s reforms “have ideologically dismantled the people in order to strengthen the economy and all it’s done is leave us without both ideology and economy.” That’s another half truth.

Some people dream, just like the Soviets used to dream, about the possibility of upholding socialist ideology without strengthening the economy. They believe that medals, degrees and awards can substitute a dignified paycheck, housing, transport or food.

Some people think they’ll be listened to, others feel its a formality but, just in case, nobody should lose the opportunity to give their two cents about what the future of Cuba should be. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz

When Raul Castro came into power he didn’t really have a choice, being able to save the revolutionary’s accomplishments would mean being able to finance them. What do speeches and rallies matter when hospitals are falling to pieces, teachers are walking out of classrooms and young people are emigrating?

Not all of the Communist Party (PCC) members agree with the type of society the President and his ministers have put forward. Raul Castro himself officially recognised at the PCC Congress in April that there were major differences in opinion regarding the subject of private ownership of the means of production.

And there aren’t just a few differences when you bear in mind the fact that, in previous enquiries carried out in closed circles, 600 amendments were asked to be made to the original socialist project presented by the government, which only had 614 points to begin with.

It’s important to understand that the socialist project is a single unit and so it needs all of its parts to work properly. You can’t expect a State to be even the tiniest bit efficient if it hasn’t removed the burden of having to manage medium and small-sized businesses and micro-entities.

Sometimes it feels like this is a contradiction which goes against the old leftist ideals but Cuba won’t have dynamic sovereignty without foreign investment. Therefore, if you prohibit opening up our economy for “ideological” reasons, you’re going against the country and humanity’s best interests.

Every citizen in the world has the right to participate in shaping the new social model, especially the Cuban people because we directly enjoy or suffer the consequences of this future. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz

When every Cuban sits down to discuss the future of their society, they shouldn’t only think about their dreams but also about the political, economic and social mechanisms they need to make them come true. We need to remember that politics is the art of the possible.

It’s not enough to just want our children to go to school and university, that their grandfather has a decent pension, that we make Cuban films or that pregnancies receive the proper medical care they should; we also need to think about how we can finance all of these things.

A defensive mentality and resistance helped the nation to bear the siege of the greatest economic and military power in the world for over 50 years, but today, even Fidel Castro himself, its creator, has publically said that this no longer works.

If Vietnam had held fast onto the mentality that allowed them to win the war, it wouldn’t have the thriving economy it has today. Nature has shown us that species that are unable to adapt to changes in their environment eventually die out.

5 thoughts on “Cuba Looking for its Future

  • “Today, every Cuban has the chance to voice their opinions and to help steer the country’s future.”
    But this right is limited if like-minded people do not have the opportunity to find each other and campaign for their views as a group.
    For example, if a Cuban disagreed with Cuba’s policy re Syria, what rights would they have? Could they stand on the street and distribute a leaflet? How would they find others who might share their views? Could they circulate an alternative narrative to the one that has appeared in Cuban media?

    I say this as someone who stands on the street in a nearby city with a FREE GAZA banner.

  • Only by opening up a market sector does Cuba work. Centralized command and control economies is a proven failed economic model. Regulatory and tax frame works operate much better to spread shared prosperity than direct state ownership of everything. Nothing is more inefficient than state enterprises.

  • Typical rambling of a confused mind.

  • As the Zika misquitos cause heart break in the Americas , Cubans future is in Gods hands.
    This virus must be stopped as it creates such heart ache and infact permission for marriage liscenceing should include Zika screening. In your system actions can be taken much faster .
    While other systems may fail Cuba like the Chinese can act without interference to avoid pregnancies
    that are doomed by the Zika bugs.The future is now and your government are the best kind of patriots,successful and committed to that success to their last breathe I am sure.
    Cuba hold your head high and pray for your future like all of us globally is in Gods hands.
    Thank you

  • “Today, every Cuban has the chance to voice their opinions and help steer the country’s future. This is a right we all have but it’s also a huge responsibility because our children’s and grandchildren’s future are hanging on the line.”
    Please Fernando Ravsberg, tell everybody when freedom of speech was introduced to Cuba? Please tell us where and how the people of Cuba can openly and without fear express any opinions which run contrary to communism? Can they do so on the radio, on the TV (perhaps introducing some genuine discussion on Mesa Redondo for the first time), can they do so in a correspondence page in ‘Granma’?
    Can you Fernando guarantee that in expressing any views contrary to communism, that no form of retribution will occur?
    This is a nationwide if not world wide shattering piece of news – IF correct!
    Is the economy actually going to be opened up? Will it be possible for foreign companies to directly employ staff and pay them at rates that they decide?
    When you Fernando encourage people to sit down and discuss the political, economic and social mechanisms necessary to make their dreams about the future of their society, does that mean that they can openly declare their support for a multi-party capitalist system to replace the communist dictatorship currently in place?
    Or do you insert the words “We need to remember that politics is the art of the possible.” In short that in thinking, speaking and discussing politics they are compelled to do so within the cast-iron regulations and laws of the Castro family regime?

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