HAVANA TIMES — I’ve just got in from shopping. A cabbage cost 20 pesos, 4 mangoes 32, 2 bunches of lettuce 14, 5 pounds of pork steak 250. I bought 4 wall screws, 100 pesos, a quarter of a gallon of oil-based paint, 200. I bought fish from a neighbor who is entitled to it because she is diabetic, 12 pounds of skinny mackerels with head and guts, 288 pesos. I’ve spent 904 pesos in half a morning, more than double the 415 pesos my son’s teacher earns in a month.
It’s hard for me to understand how a large part of the Cuban population don’t want a political change on the island, they prefer changes in economic management which improve their material conditions instead. That’s a fact, just like them being wrong is a fact, a fact which greatly saddens me.
Why do I believe they want what they want?:
- Widespread ignorance of any other system that isn’t Castrismo. Changing it doesn’t just mean changing the government, it means changing everything they have become accustomed to and that is frightening.
- Eliminating private enterprise in the economy and limiting creativity to strict ideological restraints in civil society has led to a passive society which waits to be told what they should do, when and how.
- The system’s media monopoly, including education and culture, have insisted on the apparent and not-so-apparent horrors of capitalism for decades, comparing them to Castrismo’s apparent and not-so-apparent achievements.
- The false idea that universal education and healthcare systems will disappear along with Castrismo, as if they don’t exist anywhere else in the world.
- Tribal nationalism. Any small opposition group which manages to say something is immediately linked to alleged evil interests abroad, thereby legitimizing their repression.
- A conceptual mish-mash of national, state, patriotic affairs and Communist ideology which the government has taken on.
- No freedom of association, speech, access to the media, or residency in and outside the island, thereby preventing ideas from being born and developed.
- The ironic effect of dissident movements which don’t manage to win over popular support when they want to tell their truth to a population educated in ideological intolerance.
- The displacement of rational thought, closure to analyses which would lead to them inevitably recognizing themselves to be powerless and helpless in the face of a totalitarian state.
- No private property. In reality, whoever owns the law, repressive forces and media, owns everything else. It would be painful, but if nobody bats an eyelid or protests if tomorrow the economy returns to 100% State and the purchase and sale of homes or cars was forbidden again.
Why I think they are wrong:
- Centralized planning of the economy has failed. They depend on an external benefactor and whenever they disappear, this leads to crisis.
- Any economic improvement is sporadic without a market economy, improvements will depend on political circumstances and not on the rational distribution of resources. Any progress can soon enough be a setback.
- As the government doesn’t have an opposition or public scrutiny, the ruling elite doesn’t have the incentive it needs to do anything more than what it needs to at that moment in time. Occasionally, their needs coincide with the people’s needs and results are positive, but this is rare, hence many government actions are unexplainable and unpredictable for Cuban citizens.
- The need for democracy isn’t an aesthetic matter, it’s the only way that institutional counterweights can be made to ensure freedom.
- In Castrismo, only the helpless without an opinion survive, the truth is that this is what the ruling class want to see, sustained by an army of obliging bureaucrats.
- Differences in class are mainly expressed by differences in power and influence, and these are becoming the financial differences of a class linked to political or military figures, who own profitable private businesses in Cuba or invest capital from “unknown” sources abroad.
Its suicide to continue on at the expense of this caste’s interests, something inherently wrong must be taking place within this “socialism” if the daughter of a ruling general and ex-minister runs a daycare center for the “jet set” which costs 1920 pesos per month, while my son’s teacher only earns 415 pesos.
Them leaving is the first step, even though this might be extreme, then we will try to organize ourselves together and for the wellbeing of everyone.