Is Cuba Really a Socialist Country?

Warhol P.   

Photo by Kate Forrester.

HAVANA TIMES, August 23 — If there’s one thing I understand clearly, it’s that I wouldn’t like to live in a country that wasn’t my own, nor one under a capitalist regime.  But what’s capitalism, really?  And is Cuba truly a socialist country?

These are questions I ask myself over and over again, because every year that goes by I realize that our way of life isn’t changing.  We’re a people stuck in time.

I’m 38 and I’ve never traveled abroad, and I don’t know my country very well either. Practically all I know about capitalism is what I see on TV.  But then too, I remember my grandmother’s anecdotes; she used to tell me about life under the Batista dictatorship, about stores full of food and clothes…for those who could afford them.

That was capitalism.

But what can I say about present-day Cuba if when you go into a hard currency “dollar stores” — almost always spellbinding with their rows of glittering goods and colorful signs — and you find them packed with food and clothes…for those who can afford them.

The problem is that many of us don’t have someone abroad who can send us money to help out with our expenses.  The little that an ordinary worker can afford at a dollar store are basic toiletries, the cheapest items, which on today’s salaries are impossible if you have children depending on you. Likewise, if you have a sick relative who needs things like fruit, milk, meat and juices, which are very expensive.

When I was working my salary was always 12 pesos a day ($0.50 USD), meaning that though I work eight hours a day, my monthly pay isn’t enough for the most basic necessities.  I don’t even think about buying a sweater, a pair of shorts or some flip-flops.

Nor does my check give me the pleasure of buying pork, because right now it costs 40 pesos a pound, enough for three sandwiches, which is way too expensive given my other expenses.

You can still get six pounds of rice off the ration book, but that’s not enough to last a month either.  Nor are the beans – they give each person around a pound a month, just enough for about one lunch and a dinner.

To really understand, it’s necessary to be in Cuba, to experience Havana.  You’d have to live with any family for it all to register.

Today’s Cuban isn’t interested in anything else other than “struggling” for their family.  The fact is that they don’t know much about politics; it’s all about struggling to bring home food for you and yours.

What’s sad is that as time goes by, we’re growing older here without even being able to dream about the situation changing.  In fact, I believe that Cubans have stopped having dreams of the future, since through day-to-day life we recognize that we have very few possibilities, few chances for the young or for those who aren’t so young.  That’s where we’re at; and we’ve been there for a good while.

Watching TV we’re able to keep up with the economic crisis hitting Europe.  They report to us over and over again about other people’s deaths and miseries.  But now I wonder, what about our misery?  How much longer will our crisis last?

5 thoughts on “Is Cuba Really a Socialist Country?

  • Thanks, Michael, for your comment. All we can do is go forward and hope for the best.

    I still feel that Cuba is “state monopoly socialist,” i.e., just what is called for in the documented Engels/Marx stipulations. To call it “state capitalist” obscures the fact that statism is Marxism, and Marxism is statism.

    There is now a steady denial on the Left as to the origin of the “state monopoly” recipe. All the blame is laid on the monster Stalin. This is factually incorrect. In practical terms, mislaying the blame makes it impossible to make an incisive theoretical analysis and develop a corrected socialist program. Best wishes.

  • Warhol and Pilar speak essential truths: whether the psuedo-democracies of the West, or the “socialism” (i.e. state capitalism) of Cuba, most people feel–and ARE–alienated from power. They have little–if any–economic or political control over their lives. Although, five decades ago, it didn’t start out that way in Cuba, nevertheless, that is how it has wound up. I do, however, see signs of hope in Cuba, (and what I read in reflects these trends on the Island) and in much of the rest of the world, too (e.g. Egypt, Spain, Greece, Chile, etc.) Hence, Grady, I don’t feel quite the “doomsday” and “end-times” anxieties that you do. We need to think in a GEOLGICAL, rather than an HISTORICAL, time frame, or, as Freud would put it, we need to have an “oceanic” sense of time.

  • Well, it’s hard to argue against the things said honestly by both Warhol P. and Pilar, and it’s easy to see the sad truth embodied in their words. I can only say one thing in response: We transformationaries in the US and other monopoly capitalist countries are hoping to win the people to the vision of a world network of socialist cooperative republics. There isn’t much time left. It is depressing that Fidel and Raul have discredited socialism before the people of the planet as a well meaning but unworkable, statist, bureaucratic system.

  • To Pilar: Here is the computer “google.translate” of your Spanish-language comment: Money is the leader in all nations of the world and are leaders who have more money, they send others obey and the only bad thing is that the money is not well distributed, or that for some there are not enough opportunities to win . I have seen in Cuba, a communist, a dictatorship as bad as all other, that is, you lie, manipulate you and your street, the worst that have dictatorships is that if you say what the bosses do not want to hear, punish you.

    Your communist dictatorship in addition to not allow you freedom you have been punished to the minimum essentials of life, and of course in Cuba some have more money and opportunities than others, as elsewhere.
    In what is called democracy, but also lie and manipulate you can talk, but often no one hears you, or you do not hear in time. In capitalist societies such callers, who are many, sometimes things are better, some worse, but there is opportunity to change and succeed in relatively short periods of time.

    With a full stomach and some small pampering the mind relaxes and flies free, this means that eventually all be freer. Without freedom we are nothing, we must strive to be physically and mentally free forever.
    I do not think that the only options were Baptista and Castro Cuba, but I did think so. Sorry.

  • El dinero es el jefe en todas las naciones del mundo, y son más jefes quien más dinero tienen, ellos mandan los demás obedecen y lo único malo, es que el dinero no está bien repartido, o que para algunos no hay suficientes oportunidades para ganarlo. Yo he considerado a Cuba, comunista, que es una dictadura igual de mala que todas las demás, es decir, te mienten, te manipulan y tu callas, lo peor que tienen las dictaduras es que si dices lo que los jefes no quieren escuchar, te castigan.
    Vuestra dictadura comunista además de no permitiros libertad os ha castigado a los mínimos básicos de la vida, y por supuesto también en Cuba unos tienen más dinero y posibilidades que otros, como en otros sitios.
    En lo que se llama democracia, también mienten y manipulan pero puedes hablar, aunque muchas veces no te oye nadie, o no te oyen a tiempo. En las sociedades esas que llaman capitalistas, que son muchas, las cosas unas veces van mejor, otras peor, pero hay oportunidad de cambiar y salir adelante en plazos de tiempo relativamente cortos.
    Con el estómago lleno y algunos pequeños mimos, la mente se relaja y vuela más libre, esto hace que eventualmente todo sea más libre. Sin libertad no somos nada, hay que luchar por ser física y mentalmente libres siempre.
    No creo que las únicas opciones de Cuba fueran Baptista o Castro, pero os hicieron creer que si. Lo siento.

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