By Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES – Decisions being made by Cuban president Diaz-Canel, when it comes to selling domestic and/or personal items, are proof of the continuity he defends and which he promised to the man who appointed him, Raul Castro. Reminiscent of the Ancient Regime in France, wiped away by the French Revolution and its bloodbath, the Cuban Bourbons are hellbent on holding onto things as they are, no matter what the price.
Nothing has changed in essence since the State’s monopoly control over domestic and foreign trade was established in Cuba during the 1960s, the peak being in 1968, when the so-called “revolutionary offensive” banned small, private businesses which had survived the great nationalization of the economy.
Similar to the “stores” of 18th century Royal Spain, this decision endured for four decades without too many problems, until a physically and mentally weak Fidel Castro gave up his seat of power in 2006 to his brother Raul, who took hold of the reigns of a typically feudal State, which they themselves had created.
The new ruler set forward some changes which were much-needed in the 21st century, with Cuba still living in the past because of the founder of the kingdom’s senility. Without betraying his sworn loyalty, Raul gave his subjects a certain air of democratic modernity, without changing the foundations of a country which was still being governed in the same way as the Castro family estate in Biran, in Cuba’s Oriente province. There the father of the dynasty, Angel Castro an immigrant from Galicia, Spain, replaced the Cuban peso with bottle tops which could only be used at establishments on his property.
What are the currencies in circulation in Cuba today? The same as the bottle tops in Biran, the feudalism brought over from Spain ended up spreading across the entire country.
Let me also say that Angel enjoyed other lordly privileges, including the right to the first night. There were always young women on his horse’s haunches.
Well, let’s carry on and move onto “El Chino” Raul Castro: short, incapable of giving an inspiring speech, lacking in the charisma and persona that had gained his older brother international acclaim.
One of the decrees he did away with was the horrid exit permit, called the “white card”, under the Ministry of Interior’s control at the time. The elimination of the white card led to a boom in national travelers turned tourists.
Who was funding this tourism? Cubans don’t earn their wages in hard currency, so the money came, directly or indirectly, from other countries, from Cuban emigres mostly, who amount to two million fellow countrymen who have settled down in some 72 countries, according to the UN. Ninety percent of them are living in the United States.
Following capitalism’s logic, they needed to make up expenses in order to carry on traveling. Motivated by other meek reforms established by Raul, which allowed the national economy to open up to private businesses, traveling Cubans, overcoming lots of problems with Customs, as well as public controls in the country and even police persecution. They worked out a way to set up an enviable import machine of personal and domestic items which has translated into over 300 million USD per year of purchases in Panama alone.
Cursed by Che Guevara even, monetary-mercantile relationships can’t be removed from socialism, their tentacles constantly undermine the aristocracy’s power in the face of human nature lying in wait, trying to stifle Communist doctrine without any luck.
Commoners, the new bourgeoisie, were challenging the sacred socialist power.
What was on the line? You just need to know that a 32” Smart TV was being sold to slaves working in the public sector for 400 CUC (Convertible pesos or dollars) when you could buy the exact same thing in Miami for as low as 100 USD. Independent salespeople managed to get a better price/quality deal with their products.
Today’s new offers reduce prices, out of necessity, to similar prices on the retail tourism market, which doesn’t mean to say the State is losing out, as it is still the great importer with obvious extra advantages.
These new laws also establish the compulsory use of a bank card issued by the socialist banking system, where foreign currency will be deposited, and transformed into US green.
The Government wants:
- Dollars to directly pass through the State’s banking system, without fail, so the State can decide where and how they will be spent beforehand.
- To eliminate capital flight.
- Reduce corruption to the minimum within the army of public officials who violate a series of violations to try and limit the introduction of merchandise from other countries, which are now being sold in these new stores.
In fact, by getting rid of these pesky bans, Cuba is returning to the time when it criminalized possession of foreign currency.
The “feudal socialist” tag isn’t uncalled for. It has to do with whimsical, authoritarian decisions, which call for slogans of anti-capitalist socialization which is nothing more than rhetoric, because the money they collect remains outside of the people’s control and there is plenty of evidence to show that it is embezzled by Cuba’s royalty and their closest vassals at the peak of a well-structured social pyramid.
The new government is old by nature. Communists are reinforcing the existing State because any change would mean they no longer have their privileges, it would imply a real bourgeois revolution returning Cuba to the natural order of our universe, wiping out any meteorite scientists talk about in the jurassic park that is our country today.