Democracy and Capitalism in Cuba

How far are Cuban emigres willing to deal with this group of officials and militarymen who have been established as the heirs of the reigns of power in Cuba?

By Alejandro Armengol (Cubaencuentro)

Havana hotels

HAVANA TIMES – For decades, Cuban emigres in Miami have clung onto the belief that bringing freedom to Cuba means reestablishing a political system that is governed by market principles. That isn’t true. Capitalism and democracy aren’t synonyms. They might coincide, but they don’t have to.

You can want Rule of Law on the island, for human rights to be fully respected, as well as private property and free enterprise, without that meaning that you long for Cuba to return to its past and support the dream of converting Havana into a replica of Miami.

Neoliberalism’s fanatics, who normally confuse a lack of market regulations and controls with political freedom, should read The Return of History and the End of Dreams, a book by Robert Kagan, the neo-conservative ideologist and one of the greatest writers in the US. Kagan makes an astute observation and points out what people overlook when they believe that only the combined godsends of growing trade, capitalism and property ultimately lead to a liberal democracy.

They underestimate how attractive autocracy is on the global stage. The Soviet Union, after the initial economic impetus with industrialization, was a model of economic ruin right until its very end. Now under Vladimir Putin’s rule, economic growth and diversification still leave a lot to be desired (the country depends on two industries, both of which are very lucrative: oil and the arms industry), but Russia has become a country with empire-like ambition and a superpower that needs to be taken into account and feared.

Today’s China isn’t an imminent threat right now, but for how much longer? Like Kagan says, “thanks to decades of outstanding economic growth, the Chinese can argue that their model of economic development, which combines a more and more open economy with a closed political system, can be successful for many other countries’ progress.”

A system similar to China’s or Vietnam’s, with tropical factors in play, is what must be floating around the minds of more than one Cuban technocrat or official. Putting a similar system into practice here isn’t even the leadership on the island’s top choice. If anything can be gathered from Cuban reality today, that would be the existence of a series of survival tactics to navigate the chaos without a social uprising.

It needs to be said that, up until now, they’ve managed to do this as if they were the masters of time. There is no merit in this though if we remember another example (North Korea), where an almost monarchical absolutism, or monarchical in the sense that power was handed down the family, holds the reigns of power tightly.

However, Cuba’s military caste has given some signs of playing a productive role properly and hasn’t limited itself to the parasite-like power of most North Korean militarymen.

This is probably the time to what extent are Cuban emigres willing to deal with this group of officials and militarymen who have been established as the heirs of the reigns of power in Cuba?

Before anything else, we need to highlight some truths which are painful for some people in Miami. Beyond the civic merit and bravery of its members, the dissident movement is a good indicator of the Cuban government’s absolute control over citizens in this country.

Cuban dissidents have proved their inability to be an alternative for a change of government, while it has become a great tool to denounce the government.

On the other hand, the economic ties between Cuban emigres and residents on the island, which goes beyond just sending remittances, has been kept under the regime’s monopoly control and exploited (in an economic relationship which is also parasitic).

In spite of current pressure from the White House, it doesn’t only seem to survive on its own, but its dependence is growing as a result of decline on the island; the Cuban government will look for ways to exploit its emigres further, by exploiting family ties and taking advantage of the population’s inertia.

On top of all of this, there is the incomplete vision that Cuba is being governed by a gerontocracy, and whoever thinks (out of laziness, or because international reporters don’t do their job properly and don’t even know names and faces) that the leaders of the regime are just a handful of old men, and that everything boils down to a problem of age, well, they will probably die waiting for a biological solution.

If Cuba’s fate is most likely a generational change (if there isn’t a social uprising that can’t be contained), which marches further down the capitalist route, but still limits or controls public freedoms, the equation capitalism and democracy falls to pieces.

4 thoughts on “Democracy and Capitalism in Cuba

  • May 24, 2019 at 10:43 pm
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    interesting, but why didn’t Alejandro Armengol give an illustration of a democratic country without capitalism?

    Reply
  • May 25, 2019 at 12:39 pm
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    You lost me when you started praising Robert Kagan, one of the core neocons and an architect if the invasion of Iraq which killed a million people.

    Reply
  • May 25, 2019 at 2:48 pm
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    Because there are none….

    Reply
  • May 25, 2019 at 4:07 pm
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    The article lost me somewhat too. Interesting, but could have done with a re-read before posting ?
    Fchow8888, Kagan wasn’t exactly an architect of the slaughter, torture and inanely feckless attempt at plunder in Iraq. But he did attempt to justify it and did put himself forward as a backer of it.

    Reply

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