HAVANA TIMES — When Fidel Castro proclaimed that this model of socialism is of no use even for us, anyone would have thought that this would have been reason enough for his followers to start looking for another strain of Socialism that would serve the Cuban nation better.
The revolutionary leader freed people of false allegiances by recommending that everything that needs to be changed, be changed. Later, President Raul Castro confirmed this with a warning that we are on our way towards an abyss and the time we have left to change our path is running out.
However, ever since the economic reforms process began, the government chose to call it “updating the model” and the logical question we have to ask is, do they really think they can “update” a model of society whose creator has himself called useless?
The Cuban model was a scale copy of the Soviet model, the same model which led to the disappearance of Socialism in Europe. If China and Vietnam have prospered it has been because they have changed their economies, a path which North Korea is also beginning to walk down.
In spite of evidence, some people here in Cuba still hold onto a mentality which delays change, not the kind of change that the US wants to impose, but changes agreed at Communist Party Congresses and in Parliament, supported by millions of Cubans at assemblies.
Five years passed between to Communist Congress’s and the general population recently discovered that only 20% of the agreed changes were applied. Nobody might be to blame for this in the official press but on the street, everyone is pointing the finger at those who hold onto power.
They say that Cuba needs to move forward “without haste but without stopping” because there isn’t any time left to make mistakes. However, an infinite pause was made one fine day in opening up the economy to independent labor, in spite of this being one of the key points of this reforms process.
Legalizing the private sector wasn’t a concession, but a necessity for the State so as to reduce its workforce, save itself the payment of wages, increase tax contributions to public coffers and to efficiently manage tens of thousands of small businesses.
And it was even more of a necessity, because the State doesn’t have enough efficient personnel, so it needed to put the people who have proven they work efficiently in the country’s greater economic and social matters, instead of having them running cafes.
Raul Castro claimed that “whoever wants to demonize, criminalize and pass judgement on the self-employed, has chosen a path which is not only petty but also laughable, because it’s unsustainable. Cuba relies upon them as the motors of future progress.”
It’s that without the self-employed and without small and medium-sized businesses, the reforms process wouldn’t be able to move forward. Everybody knows this, those who wanted to create a new Socialist model and those who want to continue on with the old model until the end of the world.
This is the reason why the main political battle is taking place around the economy’s private sector. The reason why Cuba’s hijacked media continues to talk about the private sector with prejudice and why they call them “self-employed”, putting them in contrast with “the collective” State enterprises.
The suspension of licenses for private work was a harsh blow to the hopes of people who had dreamed of rising out of poverty in this way, without having to emigrate or commit crimes. I know someone who managed to reach a certain level of prosperity with a cafe in a neighborhood as poor as “Vieja Linda”, on the south side of the capital.
Many emigres saw an opportunity to help their relatives set up a business that would allow them to stop begging for remittances once and for all. Other emigres have come back to stay and have invested their savings so as to live a prosperous life in their own country.
The amount of USD that has entered the country directly into the Cuban population’s pockets to create businesses and, indirectly, in the hands of hired help and State stores, is incalculable. However, in order to keep up this capital flow of investment, the country needs security.
Changing the rules of the game in the middle of a game has always created mistrust, these “indefinite” suspensions cause insecurity and the imposition of measures contrary to those approved in people’s assemblies will take its toll on political credibility.
Some years before his death, Fidel Castro claimed that the Cuban Revolution could no longer be overthrown by its enemies and he also gave a prophetic warning to his followers at the same time: “the only people who can destroy the Revolution are us.”