Cuba’s Production Paradox

Por Benjamin Noria

Die for your dreams. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – Very little food is produced in Cuba, as well as very little goods and services. However, a vaccine against COVID-19 is being developed (or several vaccines, at the same time). This seems incredible and is hard to believe. As you can see, it’s the Cuban government who establishes what has priority when it comes to production. I’m not saying that creating a vaccine is a bad thing.

The aberration that is production in Cuba disturbs any economist or academic. However, it’s pretty clear that there is a political will to put the Cuban people and scientists towards generating wealth. The Cuban government only does what it wants to. Everything that exists today has to pass through the filter that is State authorization.

The Government has spent many decades saying that it’s the US blockade’s fault that Cuba is in poverty. The US can no longer bear the burden of blame for everything the Communists have accused them of. Capitalists have been blamed for all of humanity’s evils, especially by the socialists.

That said, I wonder why the same energy, interest and enthusiasm put into developing a vaccine (or vaccines) isn’t also used to develop the national economy. Plus, if they can put scientists to the task of developing a vaccine, why can’t they put other scientists to the task of working out how to grow the economy. Filling the country with life.

It isn’t the capitalists’ fault that Cuba is sunk in its own misery right now. People’s poor quality of life, low purchasing power and the devalued peso have nothing to do with the US. It’s impossible to believe the economic gloom that enshrouds Cuba is Capitalism’s fault when the country can produce a vaccine.

Shouldn’t food also be a priority?

If producing a vaccine is so urgent to prevent people from dying, it’s been just as urgent, for years now, for conditions to produce goods, services and food for the Cuban people. Or at least they would have tried to do something if they really wanted to.

The US blockade hasn’t stopped the Cuban government from going ahead and producing the vaccine. Yet they say it stops them from producing food and improving the Cuban people’s quality of life. I think people also die without food. I think that people also die without basic living conditions, in the long-term.

The Cuban government provides universal healthcare, it’s true. However, it’s also true that Cubans are being treated in hospitals for diseases caused by the Government itself. Those from stress, financial insecurity, anxiety-filled shopping, the lack of hope in a better future and malnutrition.

The Cuban government knows how to sidestep the US’ economic blockade. It knows how to get people to produce, it knows how to motivate them to generate wealth. However, poverty is a manipulation tool, it promotes mind control over the vulnerable. The Cuban government doesn’t want anyone to be above them. All they want to do is stay in power. By squeezing all of the juice out of the 11 million Cuban citizens that work for them, of course.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.

7 thoughts on “Cuba’s Production Paradox

  • The key to the entire dilemma in Cuba is to give the people an incentive to work. There is no incentive. Your can go into a cafeteria on la rampa and see six wait persons standing around talking. When you get the attention of one they say we have no cold beer. There are cases of beer stacked beside the cooler but no one cares to stock it. It comes down to this, the state pretends to pay the workers and the workers pretend to work. I have gone to the famous Chorerra restaurant on the Malecon on a Saturday afternoon at 1 o’clock and they have no food and only rum and water but a huge wait staff. Why are they there? It’s their job. If they don’t report to work they don’t get paid the meager salary that isn’t enough for them to eat there. If the place had food and beverage. When the get home if they had eggs they could ham and eggs if they had some ham.

  • The article certainly encapsulates the economic problems, specifically, Cuba’s inability to produce sufficient food to feed its citizens. This is tragic. The contributors have also rightly commented on how the United States embargo is not the culprit of this marketplace mess evoked on ordinary Cubans, but that the communist ideology of retaining power embolden with corruption and mismanagement are the true reasons for food self sufficient scarcity.

    The article clearly points out when the Cuban state feels it is under threat, specifically the threat to its political existence, brought about by either the current pandemic or devastating cyclones, there is nothing that will stop the communist elites from evoking numerous national measures to ensure the pandemic, in this case, is correctly managed and in the case of a cyclone that Cubans are taken care from the very old to the very young. Amazing how national disasters can motivate and incentive the powers that be into productive action.

    Yet, as Benjamin Noria and commentators have stated when it comes to feeding the nation it seems having Cubans going hungry is acceptable, or have Cuban citizens punished if they try to grow a few potatoes in their backyards either to eat or sell. Cuban communist authorities do not want their self imposed authority challenged, or in anyway have “renegade” residents not follow strict communist Statutes imposed for the benefit of the few entitled elites.

    Benjamin Noria points out many paradoxes which are extremely hilarious if they weren’t so sad. He points out one: “ . . . it’s also true that Cubans are being treated in hospitals for diseases caused by the Government itself.” Imagine that. From malnutrition, anxiety, stress, to outright hunger, all occurring because one of the most basic and fundamental responsibility of any state government is to supply and ensure adequate food and nutrition is available to its people. There is only one current state that unfortunately Cuba seems to be emulating and that is North Korea. Starvation, though the communist Kingdom will never admit it, is par for the course. State political objectives over ride human suffering.

    Communist China and Communist Vietnam, two very extreme socialist countries, have more than adequate food production and distribution systems in place and the majority of their citizens enjoy a decent standard of living. At points in their history, they have had their peasants suffer great famines and hunger in the name of revolution and political ideology. Nevertheless, with time and appropriate motivation both China and Vietnam have captured the capitalist monetary zeal without throwing their communist ideology overboard. Both have survived horrendous wars in the not so distant past but they never use those circumstances to not properly provide for their citizens.

    Both nations have come to realize that empty stomachs among the citizenry can provoke unproductive negative national consequences which they have successfully avoided.

    Benjamin Noira ends by stating the present Cuban communist elites know how to invigorate the Cuban population in times of crisis and manage insurmountable challenges, yet the pandemic paradox of energy, interest and enthusiasm for a vaccine, and lack thereof towards sufficient food productivity seems to have blinded those same elites into inexcusable inaction.

  • Cuba is so lush and beautiful, I have to believe it could easily feed itself if the people were allowed access to the land and the (literal) fruits of their own labor were not seized from them. Every nation on earth could embargo Cuba and it could still feed itself if the people were not strongly discouraged from doing so by current government policy. Rather than making excuses and blaming something external they should be looking at making reforms internally, which is something the Cuban government can control.

  • The problem is a system that dis-incentivizes production. There is no profit to be made through hard work. The lazy receive the same as the ambitious.

    As Margaret Thacher observed: The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money to give away.” She was exactly right, and Cuba is the perfect example. The 1959 revolutionary government expropriated private assets. Then the socialist government aligned itself with the Soviet Union to receive subsidies from the Soviets. When the Soviets left, the government ingratiated itself to Venezuela to receive huge petro subsidies. Now, those are also gone.

    The concept of production was neglected. Why work if you are entitled to depend on someone else for your needs?

    The current problem of diminished production is even more basic. For there to be production, there must be investment in the means of production…..factories….modern farms….and transportation. But the Cuban government is broke. It has no money (except its own worthless pesos). It is broke.

    Why would any other country….or company…want to invest in Cuba. Cuba does not honor private property. It does not allow profits. It expropriates assets of the successful. From a foreign perspective, investing in Cuba is a crazy idea.

    Meanwhile, the Cuban people continue to suffer.

  • The embargo ” The greatest genocide in the history of the world”. That’s the billboard you see when you leave Jose Marty airport, is the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on the Cuban people. Food, medicine, medical equipment and personal hygiene items are readily available from the United States and any other country in the world. There is a catch, you have to pay for those things. I have witnessed a Brazilian cargo ship leaving the Havana harbor with full cargo because the state couldn’t or wouldn’t pay for it. They can develop a vaccine and maintain 20, 000 troops in Venezuela but can’t feed the people or even have aspirin or bandages in the polyclinic.

  • If a vaccine is developed in Cuba, it can be done without compromising the political and systemic status quo.
    On the other hand, unless the current political and systemic status quo is compromised to some extent, the achievable goal of food self sufficiency is not going to happen.
    Food production needs to be incentivised. In other words it needs some form of capitalist impetus. As has occurred in China and Vietnam.
    On top of feeding its own population, Cuba has the potential to be a net food exporter. They just need to bite the bullet.
    As the author states, it’s urgent.

  • You paint a perfect picture I hope the Cuban people can see the picture also ?
    Week done

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