Cuba’s Economy Progressing, Despite Obstacles

Elio Delgado Legon

HAVANA TIMES, May 3 — The enemies of the Cuban Revolution never tire of repeating in any and every way they can — even in social networks — that Cuba’s economy is a disaster, the socialist system has been a failure, the revolution has destroyed the economy, etc., etc.

All this is a colossal lie.

Sure, we could be much better if we didn’t have that fierce US blockade on us that has been maintained for more than half a century and has cost the country nearly one trillion dollars.

For those people with poor memories, I should remind them that due to US pressure, all of the Latin American countries (with the sole exception of Mexico) broke off relations with Cuba in the 1960’s.

Due to that blockade in our own geographic area, Cuba had to develop most of its trade with the socialist countries of Eastern Europe and Asia. In the case of the East Europeans, this was through the mechanism known as the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon).

These trade relations, being outside the system of capitalist speculation, maintained fair and stable prices for goods – both imported and exported ones. In the case of the Soviet Union, it would buy — at a fair price — all the sugar that Cuba was capable of producing.

In addition it offered low-interest loans to finance development projects, in keeping with the economic relations between fraternal countries. These were not like the usurious credits extended by loan sharks like the IMF or the World Bank.

They didn’t give us anything, and nor did they subsidize us as is insidiously argued by some, and nor did they exploit us. It was a mutually beneficial relationship.

As is widely known, at the end of the 1980’s and the beginning of the 90’s, Eastern European socialism was destroyed do to a multitude of factors, which aren’t my purpose for discussion here. Subsequently the Soviet Union was dismembered and dragged into capitalism.

With the disappearance of those mechanisms for commerce with that geographical area, Cuba found itself practically without foreign trade. The country’s economy was left paralyzed to a great degree and, forced by this circumstance, to begin what was for all Cubans an exceedingly difficult period: the so-called “Special Period.”

Many of the enemies of Cuba bet that socialism on the island would disappear, just like it did in Eastern Europe. This was a logical way of thinking for those who were unfamiliar with the Cuban people, their ability to sacrifice and their determination to defend the achievements of the revolution.

Any country in the world that would have faced a situation like what Cuba faced would have had huge riots bringing the government down to its knees. However the Cuban people are determined to defend their revolution at the cost of any sacrifice.

The United States tightened its blockade with the passage of the Torricelli Act in October 1992, claiming that this would be the coup de grace to the revolution. The main objective of this law was to isolate Cuba from international trade to cause the economy to collapse.

Photo: Danny Gazi

Failing to achieve the expected results with the Torricelli Act, in March 1996 Bill Clinton signed the Helms-Burton Act. This legislation prohibits Cuba from trading with subsidiaries of US companies in other countries and sanctions foreign businesspeople so that they will not invest or trade with Cuba. This acted in unison with other actions to form a veritable fence around the Cuban economy.

Despite all these obstacles and anti-Cuba laws, the economy in Cuba is developing and growing each year. In 2011, the GDP grew at a rate of 2.7 percent and plans for 2012 envisage a growth of 3.4 percent.

In Cuba there is no unemployment; rather, there are labor shortages in many areas of the economy.

If we compare the Cuban economy with those of the major capitalist countries in the world — which are either in a recession or on the edge of one, with millions of people out of work, with just as many people having lost their homes and many having to live in the streets, where there are large demonstrations in which people are brutally repressed by the police, and where governments are going bankrupt — then we have to ask: Who are the ones who have failed?

I think the economy that’s a disaster and a failure isn’t exactly Cuba’s.


23 thoughts on “Cuba’s Economy Progressing, Despite Obstacles

  • May 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm
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    I am so tired of your tirades! You are not interested in facts, you are not interested in having a serious debate (which implies listening to an other person), you are just filled with hate towards the actual regime in Cuba. Pleas, loook for a Miamibased website where you can find your friends. Leave this space for us who are interested in the developpment in Cuba, who seriously want to take part in what is going on in Cuba and who respect the Cuban people.

  • May 15, 2012 at 4:03 pm
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    I don´t like generalisations like “What is wrong with the Cuban people?” There is nothing wrong with the Cuban people on the whole: they are well informed, educated, independent thinkers. But there is absolutely something wrong with quite a lot of Cubans living in Cuba and abroad who are nourished by information from a capitalist point of view. When I defend many things (not all!) in Cuba I am told: You don´t live here. You don´t understand”. Let me answer you: ” I live in a capitalist country, I know many other capitalist countries, I have been to many countries in the 3rd world. You haven´t lived there, so please don´t give meany opinions about life there.”

  • May 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm
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    grady: in argentina workers have taken over the factories that were closed from the owners and the workers ran the factories and took a pay cut. this has also been done in america but has usually been less successful. there is always the question of ownership and how much will be paid for the means of production. some american factories were closed not because they weren´t making money but weren´t making enough money. anyway, fidel doesn´t like globalization but globalization has hollowed out american power. american industrial power has moved to china except for war industries. there are bigger profits making everything in asia so america owns banks and money. money is paper or blips on a computer screen.

  • May 13, 2012 at 3:50 am
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    Cuba is starting to export a few products so some marketing books would be useful for exporters. “why we buy.” paco underhill. “differentiate or die.” jack trout. “expand your brand” merrill perera. the bookshops are full of revolutionary comics and che´s theories on economics 50 years ago.

    World food prices are predicted to rise by 50% over the next 10 years. cuba could have a perfect storm. hugo chavez could die soon. no more petroleum subsidies. then rising petroleum and food prices. continuing recession with a downturn in tourism revenues. there are alternatives. target every potential tourism group. spend some tourism revenues developing agriculture. food prices will rise and a large part of food costs will be caused by the cost of petroleum which will rise. the recession will continue but some countries are not affected much and they are the countries which should be targeted by the ministry of tourism. one question that ministries of tourism don´t ask themselves is “what percentage of chinese can afford international travel?” 1%? what percentage of danes, norwegians, swedes, luxembourgers, finns and dutch can afford international travel? nearly all. what´s the GDP of britain? what´s the GDP of denmark and norway?

    Grady: what´s a state co-ownership form of socialism? a ball and chain on only 1 leg? the state´s job is to ensure the money supply and credit but to a large extent that is not necessary now. most central banks are independent now. but if a government has a bad taxing and spending policy it is up to the reserve bank to fix the damage. grady, try a classic. “wealth of nations.” adam smith. the hidden hand of the market. but adam smith was not a believer in unbridled capitalism. whenever 2 men in the same trade get together there starts a conspiracy against the public. teddy roovevelt´s fair labor laws and the pure food act were scrapped by george w. teddy roosevelt´s anti-trust laws were ignored during the presidency of george w. richard nixon´s clean air and water laws were scrapped by dick cheney so that gas could be extracted by toxic fracking chemicals. coal burning power stations were not required to have good scrubbers so mercury got in the air. president johnson stopped above ground atom bomb testing because strontium 90 was in the milk. now it´s mercury. so there is a place for government but not the george w. kind of government.

    Freud: if the ruling elite wants no changes that´s O.K. there is always another economic storm coming. the belief in unending economic growth before 2008 was an illusion. food prices will rise 50% over the next 10 years and with other factors predictable and unforeseeable cuba could have the perfect economic storm ahead. this will lead to greater dissent which the government will not like. in europe there is the CAP, the common agricultural policy for food security. it has always been too generous to farmers like kibbutz subsidies. europeans pay a lot for food but they certainly have no shortages. elio: certainly the capitalist system is in a crisis. so both systems are no good? the japanese economy went through a bad period when the real estate bubble burst but reports of japanese poverty are greatly exaggerated. the japanese cry poor whenever another country wants a handout. foreign aid. judging by the number of GUCCI stores i´d say that the japanese are doing very well. over investment in various sectors in various countries led to the asian economic crisis of 1997. there were naifs in south korea donating their gold jewelry to the goverment. that crisis didn´t last long. now that the greeks and the french have elected governments that want to spend their way out of recession there is hope in europe. obama bailed out the banks but the banks still won´t loan money but continue with foreclosures rather than refinancing those who can pay. america may be in deeper shit. the last 3 soviet leaders before gorbachev didn´t want changes either. now there is no soviet union and russia is an oligarchy and is a democracy with managed elections and journalists with a short life expectancy. without oil and gas exports the russians couldn´t feed themselves.

  • May 12, 2012 at 12:33 pm
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    grady, i wrote this on another page. the kibbutzim and co-op moshavim survived because they had massive state subsidies and were fortified towns against the palestinians. sharing agricultural equipment like in moshavim is a good idea though and israelis have promoted this with foreign aid in africa but food exporting countries don´t like the idea. kibbutzniks tend to be lazy and uncompetitive. i was on the first kibbutz to go bankrupt. 7 out of 200 kibbutniks were engaged in money making work that was not housekeeping and child care. the secretary was a dope smoking american who got subsidized loans for new buildings when the old ones were still servicable. the dirty work was done by foreign volunteers, slave labor, and the dirtiest work was done by palestinians. a union owned department store in melbourne, australia failed. a co-op in boston was privatized long ago. the coop is still there. you must have an interest in making money by knowing what the consumer wants. many department and variety stores have failed after the founder passed on. some australian department stores are in trouble. they have forgotten the basics. toys on the top floor, and santa, so that kids will drag mom through the whole store to get to the top. grady, a better idea would be share options for EVERY worker, not just a few often useless executives at the top. workers can then take their shares and move on and not be tied to a company like kibbutzniks are tied to a kibbutz with no property rights. corrupt secretaries have property rights though. workers can sell their shares if the company is not well run whether they leave the company or not. one good thing about unemployment is that it moves workers on to a growing well run company or a growing part of the economy. share options are an incentive for executives but share options are also incentives for ordinary workers. but share options have destroyed american companies and the present crisis is due to share options. short term planning in the car industry. pretty garbage cars. planned obsolescence. mercedes benz doesn´t change the styling every 2 or 3 years. benz improves the engineering. quick profits in the short term for share options by loaning people who couldn´t pay money for large houses. then we have the PIGS in europe. they were pigs who overspent and the european central bank, and idiot politicians, did nothing to stop it. unemployed and need a pension? do i know a politician to help? a common currency needs a common financial policy and this was known from the start and the countries that opted out were the smart ones. fraudulent numbers were used so that some countries could get in the euro zone. that was known at the time too. there is a book called “faster, cheaper, better” on industrial production, marketing and distribution systems. efficient companies keep workers in a job. mr.honda spent his days, not in an office, but on the factory floor socializing with workers and talking to workers about ways to improve production. many japanese companies pay workers for ways to make or save money. i worked for a few weeks in a factory once. i improved a loss making industrial process but someone else took the credit and i wasn´t paid. the manager arrived in a rolls royce and went straight to his office and was never seen on the factory floor. a factory floor manager told me not to try and improve production. the top management weren´t interested. australian industry survived on protectionism. import taxes are like other taxes. taking money from the voters and bribing voters by recycling the money back to them. this is O.K. if the money is used wisely.

  • May 12, 2012 at 1:20 am
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    michael landis: backpackers are NOT the low end. that´s my point. in 1993, japanese in australia spent $4,000 in 8 days. they spent their money on japanese hotels, restaurants and in japanese owned duty-frees buying japanese cameras and electronics, cognac, french perfume and scotch. most food was imported from japan. the only australian thing they used was the sewerage system. backpackers spent $10,000 in 2 months on average in mostly australian businesses. hostels, supermarkets and pubs. grady is on about about changing the system or leadership style or something again. political systems tend to perpetuate themselves. the soviet union was run by provincials who promoted other provincials. i don´t expect multi-party elections in the foreseeable future and you can´t eat elections. when the north korean economy failed, and was in worse shape than cuba´s, people went into the hills and planted food. free farmer´s markets appeared. if the north koreans had waited for the government to act they´d be dead and buried. the cuban government provides with imports the basic food necessary for life and this will continue as long as hugo chavez is alive and in power and providing subsidies like the soviet union did. what the government is not doing is starting new agricultural industries for domestic consumption and export which would also provide employment. why are cubans not doing this like the north koreans? they are not hungry or hungry enough. i don´t know why it is necessary for the minister of foreign trade to be in south korea or for the government to be involved in imports but south korea has some good turquoise jewelry for jewelry tourism. i know where to source most things in the world worth having. does the government or their amigos have a monopoly on imports? if so, that´s a problem too.

  • May 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm
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    The number of people planned to be laid off this year is 170,000 http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=68619. There may be up to a million laid off over five years. However not all of these are automatically unemployed. Many are still doing the same jobs but are now self employed or have been encouraged into forming new cooperatives. The only time that there was officially 1.5 million unemployed was 1958.

    If you think that both the CIA and the UN figures are Castro propaganda then who’s figures would you believe.

  • May 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm
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    Can you do math????…… read raul castro unemplyment policy and the 1.5 million unemployed he “created”, find Cuba’s amount of cuban population in working age and make your math….. then come here with a serious mind not with figures from international organizations that are provided by the castro government in order to lure people to believe lies.

  • May 8, 2012 at 6:29 am
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    The UN data on Cuba sets the rate of unemployment as 1.6% (2009). Do you believe them?

  • May 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm
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    john sparre, you have lots of great ideas and lots of specific knowledge. I admire that greatly. You have not provided us however with a bright idea as to how the state monopoly ownership mode of production in Cuba might be transformed, so that the socialist gains might be protected and the a new socialist economic mode of production might be instituted. Could you come back with such a bright idea?

    You sort of complimented me in seems, but you haven’t addressed any systemic suggestions I’ve made. Why not?

    Look, john, all Cuba needs to do, in order to make the ideas you’ve expressed functional, is to move toward a modern cooperative, state co-ownership form of socialism. This would re-institute private productive property rights and a conditioned socialist trading market for saving and making dynamic the Cuban model, and draw in the small bourgeoisie to the socialist project. How about a wise comment from you regarding this? Or, if you have a better plan, let’s hear it.

  • May 6, 2012 at 11:04 am
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    Do you truth CIA?????!!!!!

    They are misinforming, it is their work…… a little math……. Cuba’s working population around 5 millions……. 1.5 official unemployed*, what is 30%.

    *official unemployed means the unemployed regime recognizes.

  • May 6, 2012 at 9:05 am
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    I like your attitude, John Sparre, “No only is the glass is half full, rather than half empty, but in the future it WILL be full!!!” In just one post you’ve come up with ooodles of practical ideas for Cuba to forge ahead. (And I’m sure there are many Cubans with similar creative ideas.) The Revolutionary Government needs to appoint you Minister of Agriculture, or Minister of Toursim–or at least to an important advisory post! I like your idea for the Lido (and/or countless other *** or ** Habana hoteles); all aspects of the market have to be encouraged/covered. Today’s pack-packer is tomorrow’s *** and **** guest and, the day after tomorrow’s ***** guest; hence start with–or at least include–low-end tourism. As for the state restaurants, they need to invite Chef Gordon Ramsey to give ’em advise on make-overs, though I’m afraid he’d really bust a gasket when confronted with some of the practices of the establishments I’ve patronized. Incidentally, Cuba does have good food. You just have to search for it. Also, pre-Revolution, some of the food was so good that in PARADISO Jose Lezama Lima rhapsodises for 25 pages in sensuous detail, describing one meal he once enjoyed!

  • May 6, 2012 at 7:25 am
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    Dear John, you seems not understand that for thiese pragmatic steps you suggest it is needed first make a radical change in Cuba’s ruling elite….. while the country have same old and unmovil elite nothing will change…… they don’t want changes.
    The only effective embargo that today affects the Cuban people is the internal embargo that the dictatorship maintains on Cubans. This embargo that keeps the Cuban people from using their ability, intelligence and laboriousness to create wealth in the same way Cubans in others countries creates wealth. For example, Cubans in the USA are only 5% of the immigrant population but moves 35% of immigrants business.
    The Cubans in the island don’t need any external help it has been proven through the scattered opportunities the dictatorship relaxed the hard regulation over the private initiative. Each time it happen the people self solved all their problems without the government involving. The farmers produced all food the people needed; the markets were full with vegetables, meat, eggs, milk, etc. Small industries proliferated everywhere and the vendors found theirs stands full of shoes, cloths, deodorants and all kind articles long time ago vanished from the market.
    But in the same way the dictatorship is afraid of information is also afraid of richness, even if this richness is in the thousands and not in millions. Because richness means independence and insubordination and leftist dictatorships need for surviving the people’s dependence and subordination.
    We only need a goverment that is not afraid to lose power but afraid of not converting Cuba in the producer emporium it always was.

  • May 5, 2012 at 7:40 pm
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    the brazilians have bred zebu/bos indicus and charolais for beef. both are giant breeds and bos indicus is a very tough breed that thrives in tropical conditions. the herefod breed was a giant breed until it was bred smaller for british interests in argentina. the vestey family who over 100 years have paid enough taxes to buy a……………………packet of chewing gum. time for cubans to start again? in australia, they breed tropical dairy cattle for export. jersey and bos indicus. france has 700 goat cheeses. the alpine breed is best. the best breed for sheep cheeses is east friesan. president aquino gave country boys an $8 piglet on credit until the full grown pig was sold. there is a meat animal that breeds faster than pigs and needs no expensive feeds. rabbits! the vesteys claim to live in luxembourg or argentina for tax purposes but in fact they live in england and can be seen with the queen at royal ascot but they are really in luxembourg. of course, the laws of physics state that things can be in 2 places at the same time. if cuba was to start another dairy industry it may be best to start small with alpine goats and east friesan sheep. beef and dairy are the future, not wool and lamb. australia imports pork. there´s no money in pork unless you have a corn belt. the 2 most expensive beef breeds in australia are wagyu and grey tyrol which is also a dairy breed. wagyu beef gets a premium price. chicks, or rabbits sold on credit to kids would increase chicken and rabbit production quickly. you can find fresh rabbits in harrod´s food hall in london and the belgians like potted rabbit. potted rabbit for the tourists?

    The embargo of things like spare parts for machines pushed fidel towards the soviet union. i know history and both sides were to blame for breaking relations. dani, the unemployment numbers in every country have always been rubbery. e.g. do you count married women supported by their husband who are not looking for a job because there aren´t any for unskilled women. certainly, che was as great an economist as karl marx. grady is still looking to tweak the system. an idealist who is, like che, not an economist. i read havana times and there are constant recriminations about the past. look to the future. take rice. it needs a lot of water, right? the philippines and china have dry land rice. australian farmers have got interested in dry land rice in dry areas. it serves no purpose to criticise how the government allegedly wrecked the rice industry a long time ago. how can the rice industry be improved now? 100 kilos of dry land seed rice might start a huge new rice industry. 100 kilos at $1.50 kilo is um, er, possibly $150. who will make the run to china or manila? who will import a few pasionfruit or kiwi cuttings? how to export? let others import. find local agents.

    Does the government have to make the decisions? if the hotel lido put 6-8 beds in each room it would be a backpacker hotel with 4 times the present revenues and the beginning of a process to double tourism revenues in 3 years.

    Grady wants to tweak the system. grady, why not get a friend to post a packet of american ginseng seeds for a $200/kilo ginseng industry? quarantine will have to inspect them. if you have a bit more money import some acai palms. they are available for shipment from jamaica. do you know the nike slogan? just do it. a scotsman took some pineapple tops from french guyana to hawaii. a scotsman took some kiwi cuttings from china to new zealand. it´s not rocket science to put plants in your baggage. but you have to declare them and pay for a quarantine inspection. there is no law against taking a westphalia ham to america but a quarantine inspection costs 5 grand. plants to cuba would cost less. post a few packets of mediterranean herbs seeds to cuba and you have a new industry and an improvement in cuban cuisine which has a bad reputation with tourists. just go to a garden center in countries that have them, or order online, and buy packets of any kinds of seeds you like. coriander, roquette/rocket whatever. i have taken packets of seeds of all kinds to the philippines. it was probably illegal but no one worried about it in those days. the dutch will post you their special seeds.

    Cuba has a bad reputation for bad food. the solution is herb and spice racks in supermarkets along with a few cheap cookbooks and cooking shows on television that have the cuisines of the main tourist groups. then plant the vegetables that the tourists like. if russians like red beet soup, borscht, then plant red beets. chinese export a large range of chinese vegetable seeds. if herbs and spices are not on the embargo list there´s master foods and mccormick´s. there´s french and spanish copies. some things can be produced in cuba in the longer term. mediterranean herbs, and fresh. chili products including chili sauces like thailand. most spices are cheap and produced in india but not all. there´s nutmeg from granada and cinnamon from sri lanka.

    An australian has invented the air drop to get water out of even desert air. the british solar cucumber looks like a cheap way to desalinate sea water. but australia and america are way behind in drip irrigation. the israelis have always been at the front but india has the biggest manufacturing of drip irrigation systems that they have copied from the israelis. ghana and the philippines have solar powered drip irrigation while australians and americans waste power and water and america, like the punjab and parts of australia have run out of fossil water that can´t be replaced by rain water. i have a solution which could be patentable. the point is this. the best way to increase agricultural production in the dry season is drip irrigation like the philippines.

  • May 5, 2012 at 3:49 pm
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    I think there is much truth in what Elio says in his article, but also much truth in what is expressed in the comment by Cubaverdad above. The bottom line however is how Cuba needs to alter its statist mode of production. The Marxian core principle of the state concentrating all or most of the instruments of production in its hands should be jettisoned, and a new, cooperative principle should be put in its place.

    It’s too bad that Elio is so busy shouting at the critics outside the living room window, that he doesn’t hear the economic and social pots boiling over on the kitchen stove.

  • May 5, 2012 at 10:09 am
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    The CIA Factbook says the estimated unemployment rate in Cuba is 3.8%.

  • May 5, 2012 at 10:00 am
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    Unemployment in Cuba is 20%, underemployment is 100%…… no one can say that people earning salaries below $20/month and paying prices equal to any european capital are fully employed people.

  • May 4, 2012 at 11:59 pm
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    unemployment in greece is 40%. 20% in america? unemployment, underemployment, starvation wages and those just not counted and i´d say 50% or more! theonion.com had a story about an upwardly mobile woman with kids who sold her home for a better one. a ´92 chevy for a ´96 buick. what is important now is for government ministries to do economic research and get new industries started. cuba needs a business magazine and india has 4. havana times should invite experts to submit articles on what those new industries should be. peru is concentrating on tropical fruit exports to japan. australia is selling mangoes to taiwan, china and japan. research in every industry should include what smarter countries are doing.

  • May 4, 2012 at 8:52 am
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    What is wrong with the Cuban people /

    Can’t they see how well capitalism is doing ?

    Unemployment is 20% in Cuba? Well it’s also 20% in the USA if you count in the underemployed and those who have given up looking for work.
    BUT…if you are black and poor that unemployment rate is double that of the white population.

    Spain, Greece, Portugal are all shining examples of what capitalism can do for Cuba.
    The Soviets and the Chinese have burgeoning poverty and inequality problems swiftly rising since their adoption of feral capitalism . Almost any Third World country of similar economic circumstances as cuba have populations that have large amounts of malnutrition and drug crimes that Cuba dos not.

    Lack of educational opportunities and lack of medical care are prevalent in these countries and something that all Cubans take for granted and

    Interesting is the hypocrisy and short-sightedness of the critics of Cuba’s admittedly faulty state socialism standing on the deck of a sinking capitalist ship pointing fingers at the poor Cubans in a lifeboat that is still seaworthy and which still supplies the basics of life to all in Cuba.

    End the 50 year war on Cuba and we’ll see just which system can serve the needs of all the people in a given country.

  • May 4, 2012 at 7:25 am
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    Cuban industries destroyed by the Castro government:

    Both human and economical capitals left Cuba to USA after castro faction took the power. Huge Capitals acumulated along centuries went out looking for better conditions to develop…… capitals always does the same.
    Then came the turn of the tourism industry…… castro needed to isolate the Cuban people in order to indoctrinate it and keep it away from “bad influences” of foreign people, so he closed the country for more than 20 years and killed the huge tourism industry Cubans had built. It was the second big present of castro to USA. The Cuban tourism industry went to engross the already huge tourism industry in Florida and Puerto Rico. Eventually Dominican Republic, Bahamas and Mexico also got a piece of the pie.
    The third present was the commerce industry. Spaniards spent 5 centuries building the Singapore of America in Havana and Santiago de Cuba. When market economy were dismantled commerce died. The huge commerce that went between North America and South America trough Cuba changed route. When castro drove Cuba to the orbit of the soviets and tied the country to the commerce with the communist countries, the huge commerce between Europe and central-south America that went through Cuba changed route too. Then Miami took the place of Havana and became what is today: the center of commerce between north and South America and Europe and America giving to the light the huge ports of Tampa, Miami and Everglades.
    Who does not remember Che Guevara saying in a crazy speech: “Cuba’s economy is like a dwarf, with a big chest, big and strong shoulders but short legs and arms….. we need to transform this situation, we can afford no longer to have a big “light industry” fabricating consumption items and do not have an “adequate” “heavy industry” that is the ground of the industrialization…… we can no longer afford to depend of the Sugar industry, the agriculture and some cultivations ……..”…..Who the hell said to Guevara he was economy master!!!!!!!…..Well, the result of all this madness was 3 or 4 presents more to USA.
    Cuba’s agricultural industry, one of America’s biggest food producer were destroyed by the insane and forced colectivization policy. Cuba produced all food needed for internal consumptiom plus a lot to export. Today the country has to import 85% (?) of food we consume. Most productive land is covered by weeds.
    The huge cattle industry Cubans built working hard along s. XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX and the first half of s. XX is gone. Cuba was the third meat and milk producer in America behind giants like USA, Brazil and Argentina. Cuba even exported meat and milk to USA and other American countries. Cuba produced shoes of international rename and Cuban lather industry was the bigger in Latin-America.

    But castro believed in his megalomaniac mind he was smart enough to build a better cattle industry …….. he started to import cattle from India and Holland, cattle experts from Europe and tried to build a new race of cattle he dreamed would be the best in the world……. this destroyed what our people created in centuries. The result was the vanishing of Cuba’s cattle population and the creation of a new race of cattle that needed air-conditioning, and imported super expensive pastures to survive…….. of course, he never accepted his fault and blamed the imported technician for the disaster to cover the truth…….. I still remember when we was child how teachers were compelled to teach us at school how our great leader would build a super cow that would give us all milk and meat we needed!!!!

    Of course the hole in the market left by the destruction of our cattle industry was quickly filled by USA’s cattle producers.
    The Citric industry was once one of the crown jewels of Cuba’s industrialization process. Huge land extensions in several provinces of the country including Pines Island were involved in the production of citric fruits. Industries derivate of this production like beverages bottling, comfitures, traditional deserts, etc supplied the internal market and production of concentrates supplied both the internal and external market…….. These industries are gone…… of course all of them reborn in Florida where citric industry reached peaks of development never dreamed by their founders just because castro present……. citric derivate industries like beverages production and concentrates found a new beginning in Florida by the hand of same actors that drove them up in Cuba……. Cubans produce in Florida the same types of beverages even keeping the old names……. long time favorites of Cuban people taste like Jupiña, Materva, Ironbeer, among other are now exclusive drinks of Cubans in exile……… the only remains of this before huge industry in Cuba are some acres still producing citric in Camaguey and Pine Island, this production is entirely bought by the “enemy zionist state of Israel”.

    The once mighty Cuban Media Industry is gone. There was a time where every single artist in Latin-America that hoped to jump to the fame had to come to Cuba to be recorded in celluloid or paste…… even European artists that hoped to be heard or seen by Latin-America or Spanish speaking people in USA had to pay a visit to the record studies or radio-TV studios in Cuba. The second country in the world to develop TV was Cuba and we helped the rest of Latin-America to build TV. The inventors of radio-telesoaps, the creators of rhythms and dance styles like Mambo, Cha cha cha, Salsa, etc were long ahead the rest of the non anglo world creating the second bigger media industry in America…… 160 radio stations, 23 TV stations, 14 publishers of international importance, 18 national newspapers and thousands of regional and local newspapers and magazines made Cuba de center of the Latin-American and south USA media.

    Of course, for castro this impressive source of art, freedom and richness was a pain in the butt, that’s why this industry was simply killed like a opponent in the fire squad. By 1961 the core of this industry was liquidated and the actors killed, in jail or in exile…… in exile, in Miami, were it was rebuilt and today serve as culture, richness and freedom creator by the hand of Cubans like Emilio and Gloria Stephan.

    The Sugar Industry, once the bigger in the world, for centuries the sugar provider of the world is today a bunch of rusted metal scrap assaulted by vegetation like those Science Channel’s programs that related how will be the Earth after human been pass away. From the bigger sugar producer of the world castro transformed Cuba into a country that depends of USA to supply Cubans needs of sugar. Of course, Cubans traditional sugar producer that escaped castro like Sanjul or Lobo families created huge sugar industries in Florida, Alabama, Central America, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, another spectacular present from castro to USA.

    The alcohol industry depending of sugar Industry, the new Ethanol industry born after castro killed Cuban Sugar Industry and so attacked by castro because (of course) Cuba is no longer a producer of importance because castro impoverishing policy!!!!! Bacardi is not today a local rum fabricator in a hot town south of Cuba but of a gigantic American multinational that fabricate since a pen to rockets parts thanks to castrofascism killing of industries in Cuba.

    All other bigger industries related to sugar industry like Paper Industry, Animal Food Industry (Cuba was the main exporter in and to Latin-America of this important product), Syrup Industry (this one gave life to others Human Food Industries), Artificial Wood Industry (which also generated others Wood Millwork Industries), Alcohol Industry (that generated the Rum-Industrial Alcohol- Industries), and a lot of medium-small industries depending of Sugar industry found their death in castrofascism hands and were resuscitated by Cuban capitalists in capitalism emporium: USA.

    The classic Tobacco Industry is on its way of disappearing off Cuba and relocate in Miami. Emigrated Cuban growers smuggled Cuban tobacco seeds and started to grow up the plants in fields with similar chemical composition as Cuban soil in Honduras, Nicaragua and Dominican Republic. In a few years these growers got to produce a tobacco ranked among the first in the world. Already those producers are taking niches of market to the inefficient and state controlled Tobacco Industry in Cuba. Very soon they will give the final blow to this last of Cuba’s big industries still “working”. Calle 8 in Miami is full of Offices and Showrooms of the different Tobacco producers of Miami.
    What’s next???….. Who knows?

  • May 4, 2012 at 6:11 am
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    It is no “colossal lie” that Cuba’s economy is a disaster, the socialist system has been a failure, the revolution has destroyed the economy,…
    The are regrettable facts.
    The economical mismanagement of the Castro regime of all aspects of the economy has destroyed agriculture, the manufacturing base and the sugar industry.
    Cuba was – depending on how you qualify sugar – a net exporter or a small imported of foodstuffs in 1959. It was self-sufficient in the production of its staple food, rice, with a 3 to 4 times higher per capita consumption of the product. Now Cuba needs donations of rice from Vietnam and needs credit terms of 18 moths to pay for it.
    The “socialization” of agriculture transferred two thirds of the land to state controlled entities that were 4 times less productive than the independent farmers. The results you can see on the streets of all Cuban cities and towns: scarcity of food and – in terms of local income – astronomical prices.
    Cattle all but disappeared from the once so rich plains of Camaguey though the elite still can enjoy the products of the exclusive “Charolais” cattle raised on one special ranch.
    The mismanagement of the sugar industry was phenomenal. Expansion to unsuited land areas displacing food production, extreme dependence on fertilizers, wasteful production methods and finally badly timed and badly thought through closures.
    The industrial base of Cuba was destroyed as – like in the food sector – imports were favored over local production. From the “textilera ” in Santiago to cement and other industries.
    The disaster above has been hidden for years by the 25-30% of GDP in subsidies – not trade – from the Soviet Union. When those fell away the “naked economy”, the real economy of Cuba was exposed: a country that could not pay for its consumption. The irony of the name the regime gave to this period is staggering: calling what was the “normal” period for the Cuban economy a “special period” was one of the biggest lies ever. The Chavez subsidies of 3.6 billion help the regime survive, but did not cover the real deficit. Scarcity and hunger remain.
    Cuba now depends on the income “services” mainly the revenues of “rented doctors” as the so-called Cuban medical aid is in fact nearly all trade. The income thereof is estimated at up to 5 billion, twice as much as tourism and even remittances from abroad. The three sources of income mentioned: medical services, tourism and remittances are what keep Cuba alive. Nickle, medical products, cigars and rum complete the list. Even so the Cuban health and education systems are crumbling, at least for Cubans as tourists and the elite have access to special hospitals.
    That is the Cuban reality of today and remittances, “mopped up” by the regime via the TRD shops where a 230% tax is imposed on all goods, are what help most Cuban families make ends meet. Cuban economists have estimated that a family of 4 would need 7 times the average salary to make ends meet without help.
    Talking about advances now and referring to the small service enterprises lots of Cubans have set up is ridiculous: without remittances these can not survive as they would have no client base. Improvements in the real economy are minimal and mainly export oriented.
    Cuba is still a disaster area so much so that the Cuban regime still feels it can’t let Cubans travel freely.

  • May 3, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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    Elio do you actually live in Cuba? You write “In Cuba there is no unemployment; rather, there are labor shortages in many areas of the economy”. There are no less than 500,000 unemployed Cubans in the streets right now, with more to come as announced recently by the Cuban government. The definition of underemployment doesn’t begin to describe the university-educated engineers who sell ice cream, or the highly-trained nurses who are manicurists. No one living in the streets you say? Is it better for three generations to live together under a collapsing roof? At least one structure a week falls down in La Habana alone, sometimes taking lives with it. A 2010 UN study reports that 20% of the housing stock in Cuba is badly in need of repair and another 20% is beyond repair and should be condemned. Cuban government estimates a housing deficit of 600,000 houses and the same government experts will say off the record it is really close to 1 million.
    There are economic problems all over the world. Some more severe than others. But to imply that Cubans are better off does not jibe with the 15,000 balseros who risk their lives each year to escape Cuba. Your analysis does not match with the 46,744 cubans who applied for the lottery last year at the US Section Interests Office. What, they didn’t get the memo, that you are better off in Cuba? Finally, police brutality is a terrible, terrible stain on the conscious of any civilized country, including the brutality the whole world saw take place in Santiago de Cuba recently when one lone Cubano dared to express his disagreement with the regime prior to the papal mass. Elio, if you wish Cuba to be treated as an equal, you can not insult our intelligence with this rubbish.

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