The Cuban Government’s Incompetence

A measure that won’t resolve anything.

Marlene Azor Hernandez

Entrance to one of the temporary shelters where people can live for decades.
Entrance to one of the temporary shelters where people can live for decades.  Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — In the face of the disaster caused by hurricane Matthew, the government has decided to partially subsidize building/repairing homes. The national housing inventory has a deficit that surpasses a million homes.

In the 2012 census, the government recorded a deficit of 600,000 homes, but in reality and according to meticulous experts, the deficit is now double that[1]. Let’s add those affected by hurricane Sandy and now those by Matthew, those in shelters, the overcrowding of three and four generations of Cubans in existing housing and surely the size of the deficit will shoot through the roof.

The government hasn’t notified those in shelters who await a housing solution amidst the destruction – no exception to hurricanes- or those waiting for a solution after hurricane Sandy, four years ago. The lack of transparency in public management reveals the government’s unwillingness to inform the population on its performance.

The measure published in the Granma newspaper and Cubadebate website explains that the government will subsidize the price of construction materials to build houses by 50%. This measure is erratic precisely because materials to reconstruct houses aren’t, in their majority, produced nationally and therefore “cost a lot to be imported” leaders have repeatedly said on the occasions that this issue is brought up in government media.

That’s why the construction plan for those affected by Sandy didn’t pan out, construction plans for annual housing aren’t met and why ministers and officials who are responsible for this area aren’t fired. As Cuban officials say, copying General/President Castro’s euphemism, the national housing construction plan is: “insufficient”.

In Cuban “real socialism”, officials are chosen for their political loyalty to Fidel and Raul Castro’s regime, that’s why public administration is filled to the brink with incompetent people who year after year reveal their frightening achievements but remain in power. The first and most notorious in his economic role is Marino Murillo, chief responsible for implementing the 2011 “Economic and Social Guidelines” which fell 79% short of what had been approved and still continues in his position.

The government subsidizes but it doesn’t obtain sufficient building materials, thereby making the public policy useless. That’s why it’s false to call the current housing construction plan or the subsidy measure for those affected by hurricane Matthew an “achievement”.

Life in a government shelter. Photo: Juan Suarez
Life in a government shelter. Photo: Juan Suarez

It’s just another promise that won’t be fulfilled and that moves us closer and closer to Haitian and Nicaraguan infrastructure, some of the hemisphere’s poorest countries with corrupt and incompetent governments such as the one in Cuba. According to Raul Castro in a speech given in the ‘80s, “we recognize effort but we reward results.”

The UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that Cuba signed back in 2008, which still hasn’t been ratified, reveals the Cuban government to be non-compliant with the right to give adequate housing to its citizens.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights doesn’t justify the lack of resources to monitor to what extent the Covenant has been met or not met. Although the Government is lacking in resources, this cannot be justification for not complying with its obligations.

“Even where the available resources are demonstrably inadequate, the obligation remains for a State party to strive to ensure the widest possible enjoyment of the relevant rights under the prevailing circumstances. Moreover, the obligations to monitor the extent of the realization, or more especially of the non realization, of economic, social and cultural rights, and to devise strategies and programs for their promotion, are not in any way eliminated as a result of resource constraints.”[2]

Cuban citizens hope that the government publishes reliable statistics about the non-compliance with these economic, social and cultural human rights in our country. Useless policies shouldn’t continue to be “unfulfilled promises”. Informing the population on public administration is the first step they need to take to leave behind this persistent crisis of Cuban “real socialism”.

The Cuban government trusts that it will be reelected on the UN Human Rights Council in October. The Cuban government’s last intervention at that body was to ask for “the end of global colonization.”

This diplomacy is very contradictory coming from a country that hasn’t yet ratified the UN International Covenant for Human Rights. What credibility will the Cuban government have as a member of the UN Human Rights Council if it doesn’t ratify and , hence, doesn’t link regulations of the Covenant with its own domestic legislation and doesn’t allow the international evaluation of all human right violations in Cuba?

The Cuban government wants to take not only its citizens as fools who it supposedly represents, but also the international UN community. That’s why its international “friends” are the world’s most disgraceful dictatorships and autocracies. Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, Iran, Vietnam, Venezuela, Angola and even Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe, a multi-millionaire and corrupt leader who has been awarded the Jose Marti Order by the Cuban government.
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[1] Carmelo Mesa Lago, Cuba en la era de Raúl Castro España. Colibrí, 2012, Capitulo 4.

[2] Since 2009, the UN Optional Protocols of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have established the revision of public policy and demand information transparency about the non-compliance with its economic, social and cultural human rights. Is this why the Cuban government still hasn’t ratified them?

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One thought on “The Cuban Government’s Incompetence

  • The government will ensure that the army and party officials are housed before any ordinary Cuban citizen is considered for rehousing.

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