By Pedro Campos
HAVANA TIMES — The number of young Cubans leaving for the United States through any means possible has been rising dramatically of late. Thousands of Cuban families experience the anxiety of waiting to receive information about their children, who took to the sea or the jungles and borders of Central and South America. The phenomenon stems from both current and long-lasting circumstances.
The more circumstantial reasons may include recent declarations by several US congress people and analysts of Cuban-American issues, dealing with the need to re-evaluate or eliminate the Cuban Adjustment Act in view of the US government’s new policy towards Cuba.
Another factor that may have contributed to this situation is that, almost a year after the re-establishment of relations between Cuba and the United States was announced (on December 17, 2014), the expectations regarding improvements in the quality of life of Cubans haven’t been satisfied anywhere.
The governing elite accuses the United States of refusing to lift the blockade/embargo, while the Obama administration has issued a series of decrees aimed at modifying restrictions which, if taken advantage of by Cuba, could benefit broad sectors of the private and cooperative economy – sectors which the island’s bureaucratic state-command philosophy, against history and all economic and social sense, considers “enemies and Trojan horses of imperialism.”
The only true Trojan horse that has destroyed Cuba’s economy and has brought the people countless problems and privations is the centralized, bureaucratic economic and political model Cuba maintains, devoid of any democratic spaces.
This is the most enduring and significant reason for the endless exodus of Cubans, which saw its most dramatic moments during the mass migrations of Camarioca, Mariel and the rafters crisis of the early 90s. Young people are quite simply leaving the country because they have no prospects in their own country, owing to the obsolete, marginalizing, discouraging and monopolistic State wage system that hoards the wealth produced by all Cubans and lays it in the hands of a bureaucratic and military elite, to the detriment of economic and social development in general.
A number of analysts have also pointed out the drop in oil prices, the reduction in Venezuelan crude imports, the payment of the foreign debt and decreasing nickel prices have also had an impact on the Cuban economy.
One factor very few people discuss, even though we are already nearing the 7th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, is the failure of Raul Castro’s government in terms of implementing the Guidelines approved by the Party in 2011, a document which generated positive expectations among many Cubans, who then believed self-employment would be developed broadly and people would be permitted to prosper, open up their own businesses and practice their professions privately – that cooperatives independent of the State would be opened, as they are elsewhere in the world, where they can freely produce, sell, purchase and secure credits.
There was also hope that an increase in foreign investment would generate new, well-paid jobs and that the autonomy promised companies (as well as the linking of wages to their performance) would improve the standard of living of workers – as these awaited the elimination of Cuba’s two-currency monetary system.
None of that ever materialized, however. No new legislation was ever drawn up to impel these proposals and it all ended up as a series of incomplete measures which, rather than push the Guidelines forward, ended up castrating them.
In short, Cuba’s economic situation has continued to worsen and the only solution people continue to find is to leave the country.
There appears to be no other solution to this problem other than to change the State-centered political and economic system, a system that has failed throughout the planet, imposed in the name of socialism in Cuba – the one true cause of all the ills we’ve endured.