By Francisco Acevedo
HAVANA TIMES – For decades they were Cuba’s great allies, but after the fall of communism in the Soviet Union, Russia, the surviving power, did not continue with the same policy of complacency.
The application of market oriented policy was not in tune with the archaic socialist form of production that survives in Cuba, and in this century relations between the two countries cooled. Although they remained allies in high places, economically they were never the same again.
Coincidentally, now that Russia is being isolated by the world after its aggression against Ukraine, attempts are being made to resume this relationship and strengthen it. According to gossip, this also has a dangerous military backdrop, without ruling out the nuclear aspect.
But the latter is speculative, so we better focus on what already seems concrete, and that is that Russia is going all out to try to revive the Cuban economy.
After several comings and goings of officials of all levels (including the military) from Moscow to the Cuban Communist Party Central Committee and vice versa, a mega-agreement was announced with fanfare that involves the long-term lease of land to Russian investors to produce the food Cuba needs.
To accommodate the Russians, it doesn’t matter that they are as imperialist as the United States, that their projections in recent decades are clearly dictatorial, that their leaders maintain power uninterruptedly, and that they attack another nation under any pretext. It seems that anyone, but the United States will do, although it behaves roughly in much the same way.
It does not matter that Russia has given communism a fatal shot, because in a romantic (or lunatic) way it is seen by Cuba’s leaders as the best champion to vindicate an idea that Russians scuttled and today, they do not want to see it even in painting. However, the government in Cuba sees it differently; Venezuela too, but that is another matter.
Deep down, what underlies is the need to empower anyone but the Cubans, because the latter implies losing control. It is a mentality of a colony, of a provider, which is much more convenient for the personal interests of those who hold power in Havana.
They are alliances “that do not compromise our principles”, even if half the country is sold. In doing so, President Díaz-Canel gives an exclusive interview to Russia Today, to redo everything and sell the nostalgic image of that decades-long bilateral relationship that accommodated the Cuban economy and dulled its senses, making it dependent to the point that decades later it is not capable of functioning on its own. Not to mention the defense of the disgraceful Communications Law, which deserves separate attention.
It remains in the background that those who live on their salary do not see their needs satisfied and prefer to bet on foreign investors. What will these investors do when they see that their businesses are not prospering because they continue to be weighed down by a mistaken economic policy?
This week it emerged that while there is not much to eat in the country, more than 5,500 tons of potatoes rotted in the province of Ciego de Ávila. “High temperatures, physiological alterations of the tuber and the rains” were the explanations of local officials in statements to the official press.
Thousands of tons of mangoes also rotted in the eastern part of the country because no one went to pick them up to market them. This occurs when the vast majority of mothers lose sleep to get their children’s snacks and don’t have much more than cheap instant soft drinks.
Will any investor buy this tale? The Russians are not the Soviets, the fable of friendship no longer works, and even though they need us as allies on the international stage, businessmen don’t think that way.
When the debts begin to pile up, because it has happened historically and it will happen again, we will see those investors scream bloody murder.
All this in the same country in which self-employed businesses cannot prosper either due to the existing laws, which pursue the origin of their raw materials and impose onerous fines for obtaining them from those who steal them from the State itself. But where are they going to get them if nobody can import flour, fuel, or fertilizers on their own, for example?
In the most recent meeting of the Communist Party Political Bureau (disclosed by state television) another truth was recognized: that the Socialist State Enterprises (more bombastic a name would have to be ordered) are still far from achieving the full deployment of their potentialities. Whose fault is it, the miserably paid workers, the US blockade, the weather? Decades of pantomime show that these enterprises do not work as long as everything has to go through the State and the workers themselves are not the owners of each business, with real autonomy to manage staff, resources, plans and the final destination of their products.
That is even stated by the Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero, but no one is capable of providing the solution. They talked about obstacles (made by themselves, because no citizen is known to put obstacles to their company), but they did not specify which ones, much less how to lift them.
As they themselves say, agility, creativity and consistency have been lacking to obtain better results, but I have heard this story a thousand times before.
So now they want Russia to pull the chestnuts out of the fire.