Reporting in Cuba: Tomatoes Yes, Cars No

By Circles Robinson

Tomatoes in Granma newspaper.
Tomatoes in Granma newspaper.

HAVANA TIMES — While the reaction to the price list for new and used car sales in Cuba is raging in the alternative online and foreign press, the local print media, which is what the 95% Internet-less population has access to, has skirted the issue completely.

Instead they are informing today on the progress of a caravan recalling Fidel Castro’s triumphant revolution 55 years ago and that the tomato harvest in some place called the Valley of Caujeri has begun.

During the last weeks it was big news that Raul Castro had decided to open the new and used car market with profits from the dealerships going to improve the highly deficient public transportation.

On Friday when the price list was made public and received across the board astonishment from those who saw it, the official Granma daily, which all the other newspapers take their cues from, is air tight.

See this related post: New Cars in Cuba: The Joke’s on You


12 thoughts on “Reporting in Cuba: Tomatoes Yes, Cars No

  • I tap all my reasonably comprehensive media bookmarks every day, and I can assure you there is no raging attention being given to Cuban car prices. But, not quite airtight, I guess, Granma did verify the opening of the Havana car lot for me a few days ago. It even has had car ads. The last time I was in Cuba, in 2007, internet access was there for anyone who could afford it and most of the internet rooms I used were being used mostly by Cubans. I have cited riding a Havana bus and watching tourists live it up as among the only certain human rights abuses in Cuba (nothing close to Nicaragua I’m sure you must remember), but, again in 2007, I easily saw actually a nearly spectacular increase and improvement happening in public transportation – everywhere even including Havana. Maybe it all ended as soon as I left. In 1989, I was amazed to find the elsewhere maligned Cuba looking just fine. As soon as I left, though, according to all I read in the embedded western media for the next 10 years, it fell straight into the toilet. Amazingly again, when I returned in 2000, I found Cuba looking just fine. Keeping closer tabs for the next 8 years, in 7 visits, I saw Cuba gradually improving and always looking fine enough any time I was there. But every time I went away it immediately reverted to miserable, according to the capitalist press elsewhere. But each time I went back, it looked fine again. Really, on foot, alone and seriously getting into every level of society in 16 Latin American countries, going from actual site to actual site, I’ve found Cuba to be the most civilized country south of the Rio Bravo – up to 2007. But I’ve been surfing the Havana Times for the last 5 hours this morning and most of what I’ve read and, including most of the lumpen-level international blogs you’re attracting and which all your international readers read, are making it clear, at least to your American audience that, ever since I last flew away (maybe I should stay there) Cuba has sunk to a level that should make it easy for the CIA to instigate an uprising and justify a NATO invasion. Is that what you want? -Glen Roberts –

  • Griffin,
    Thank you for taking the time to answer my question .
    This does clear up my perceptions of your thinking and will be of great help in future debates.
    Of course I disagree with your description of the deeply capitalist social democracies as either democratic ( capitalism is never democratic) or socialist since you can no more be a little capitalist than you can be a little pregnant .
    Secondly , the Stalinists who ran those many countries and Communist Parties were never recognized by the Trotskyists nor the anarchists nor by academia as being socialist because no matter any prevailing thinking as to the nature of these Stalinist regimes, they were not bottom-up democratic as socialism and communism are.
    Again, regardless of the great numbers of people who wouldn’t know the history and origins of the two philosophies in a capitalist society whose primary educational systems, media and government have a deep seated interest in disinforming the great majority as to the true democratic nature of these systems, the definitions of socialism and communism as systems with necessarily a base in a democratic functioning icannot be overridden by popular thought .
    Two good analogies that relate would be the overwhelming support of the US population for the Iraq invasion that later turned to non-support when the truth came out about the fictitious WMDs.
    and the again overwhelming initial support for the Vietnam invasion which turned to widespread protest and opposition when the truth was revealed.
    The diseducation of the general population is both necessary and easy thing for the capitalist governments to do since they need to suppress popular demand for democracy and own some 95% of the media which enables them to do the necessary disinforming.
    Lastly, all the bullshit aside, it boils down to whether or not you believe in democracy or not and support the institutions and systems that work toward that ideal..

  • Don Quixote and Sancho Panza?

    I assume you are referring to Fidel & Raul, respectively. But what about their beasts? Don Quixote rode a broken down old nag while Sancho mounted an ass.

    Ok, I guess the metaphor still works…

  • Dear John,

    There are many flavours of socialism out there for you to gaze at through the plate-glass window of your poli-sci courses. There’s the moderate social democracy of western political parties such as the British Labour Party, or Canada’s NDP. There are old-school Marxist-Leninist socialists, or their Trotskyist and Maoist dopplegangers. There is even a so-called bottom-up democratic socialism which you have been going on about.

    The form of bottom-up democratic socialism you describe, and which you say, incorrectly, is the only one supported by “academia”, by which I assume you mean academia in liberal democratic Western countries, has only recently become the preferred flavour of Western Leftists. I’m old enough to remember academics lecturing on the advantages, successes and wonders of old-school Marxist-Leninist socialism. The USSR, Cuba, East Germany, Vietnam, China and North Korea were all held up as model societies while their failures, crimes and genocides were excused or lied denied.

    Then as today, their gullible students lapped up that sweet Marxist milk as they chanted their slogans of indoctrination.

    It was only after the Soviet Union collapsed, the East Bloc dictatorships were swept away, and Maoism was quietly ushered out of Beijing that Western Leftist academics changed their tune. They should have been fired from their academic sinecures for their colossal intellectual fraud. But because they had climbed to the top of the academic heap and controlled the Departments of Whatever Studies and the guild-like faculty associations they live on to delude yet another generation of idealistic youngsters.

    Now they sing of “bottom-up, democratic socialism” or “socialism for the 2ist Century”, or “anti-authoritarian socialism”. Today their heroes are Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega and Evo Morales. Typically, their model societies don’t look anything like the utopian systems they proclaim, but then again, reality has never been academia’s strong point. The crimes of a few old heroes like Mao and Che are still denied and excused, while Joseph Stalin, in the role of the approved villain, is trotted out as evidence of their intellectual evolution. This same Uncle Joe whose boots they licked only yesterday.

    It’s the same old utopian tune, they just changed some of the lyrics. The fundamental intellectual and moral errors remain. The Great Lie of Socialism is that all of human suffering is caused by economic inequality and that all we need to do is give up all of our rights and freedoms to an all powerful State which will provide the people with all they need. That is the most inhuman idea ever conceived by Man and it has resulted only in mass misery.

    It is impossible to build a perfect socialist utopia, however you define it. Human nature will defeat it. Every time. Che’s New Man turned out to be Frankenstein’s Marxist Monster, a hideous creature with identical copies of Fidel’s head bolted onto the bodies of every Cuban man, woman and child. The head is held in place with the twin totalitarian bolts of fear and propaganda.

    Greed, narcissism, lust for power, fanaticism and cruelty will always be with us. If given absolute power, humans will always commit the same old crimes that they have always done. When people raise the flag of Utopia however defined the motivation for and expediency of mass murder soon follows in its wake.

    That is why I dispute (almost) everything you write. Your ideology flows from a proven intellectual and moral failure which has inflicted unequalled suffering on the human race. Smash the monster’s head and drive a steak into its heart, I say.

  • I’ve always enjoyed clowns; at least they bring a smile to the world, and sometimes make us laugh. OTOH, those in control of capitalism and imperialism cause just the opposite, tears and the gnashing of teeth. Like the tale of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, the narrative of Cuba’s history over the past half-century may, for the shallow, evoke laughter; for those with more perception, they evoke admiration and appreciation.

  • Griffin,
    I ‘d like to pose the same question to you that Moses recently answered for me .
    If the admittedly totalitarian system of Cuba government and its economy is to be termed socialist, what would YOU term a system, both economic and governmental that is run from the bottom up by the common people in a democratic (majority -rule) fashion ?
    This is the description used by academia to describe socialism but since you are describing Cuba as being both socialist and a totalitarian state, how do you reconcile the obvious contradiction ?
    I’m not being cute here but only seeking clarification of your thought processes towards a better debate.

  • Those are some high car prices, to be sure. And they fit right into the mold of many other highly unusual and sometimes seemingly unexplainable decisions by the government, like the bizarre food selections that were to be found in the shopping in the depth of the special period. But how many people do car prices effect ? Is it desirable for either Cuba or the planet to have tens of thousands of more cars on the road. It makes for a good laugh though. Slightly different reaction you get from a Cuban when you tell them that in the US you can pay tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for a medical procedure or a college degree hang on your locker at Starbucks.

  • Other than the stuff John Goodrich writes, this is the funniest comment I have read on HT. Good stuff!

  • Hahah nothing new in the über controlled monopolized omnipotent cuban media.

  • Right, that’s the solution for Cuba: everybody build their own clown car!

    That will go perfectly with the clown socialism, clown economy and clown democracy ruled over by that clown dictator.

  • Perhaps the solution in Cuba would be to build your own car. In the days of my youth this is exactly what a friend did. For (at the time) a couple of hundred bucks he sent away for a “King Midget” kit, which he received by Railway Express a few weeks later. Within a short time he had put it together. It was a two-seat convertible, and it shook, rattled and rolled! In quality, it was somewhat reminiscent of the later, and unlamented, Yugo. It was about the same size as one of those early 1960’s clown cars you see tooling around Habana with the back bonnet (the motor was in the back) always latched up to increase the cooling. Still, my friend and I had great fun driving it around South Florida in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

  • I am sure “Radio Bemba” is raging with the same comments that have exploded throughout the internet. That is to say, Cuban ‘word of mouth’ is, no doubt, talking about these outrageous prices. It used to be that as a reward for being a good revolutionary, a select few number of Cubans were allowed to buy relatively new cars. The prices were higher than they should have been but it was still affordable to those Cubans who earned the Castros approval. Now, it is based solely on ‘feral’ greed of the regime. Yoani Sanchez, one of CNN’s most influential women of 2013, and famed Cuban blogger who is likely the most berated dissident by the Castros in Cuba is now better enabled to buy a new car than is the most blindly dedicated but low-level revolutionary. Way to go Raul!

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