New economic model for Cuba or a “new” Cuba?

New economic model for Cuba or a “new” Cuba?

Nino Pagliccia

I post this article from a blog in Cuba because I find it very interesting. Unless you are very familiar with Cuba, Cuban sentiments towards foreign interference and the real consequences of the blockade on Cuba, this article reads just like any of those commentaries that would appear in any blog about any country. 

The article is written by a Cuban and therefore I make my comments with all respect. I always recognise as a personal policy of mine that all Cubans are at the frontline of a revolution. I am only an activist in solidarity with the Cuban revolution.

The author emphasises the fact that these are his personal opinions. My comments here are also my personal opinions.

I appreciate the fact that the article attempts to establish a balanced reporting (à la Western media) by describing ten news items about Cuba, five positive and five negative. But this is a false or theoretical balance because there is nothing balanced about Cuba as a result of its relations with other countries, the US in particular.

The five positive news items that the author lists are all related to the economy of Cuba, understandably. For instance, Cuba maintains payments on its national debt and the balance of trade is positive. This has to have some extra weight in the final analysis considering that Cuba is not part of the global economy “thanks” to the US blockade on Cuba. I would dwell more on understanding how Cuba does it. It is quite a lesson to teach to many countries of the South.

On the other hand, of the five negative news items, two deal with the difficulty of delivering certain services such as water and food supply. However, one item stands out for its importance and its long analysis: the low growth in the Cuban GDP, which is defined “the worst of the bad news”.

It is sad to read the author say, “I think that it is not enough with the explanation that the main cause is the US blockade”, and that Cuba must emphasise what he calls the (undefined) “internal blockade.” He squarely blames “the lack of knowledge on how business works, which is the heart of the economy.” 

But more confusing to me is what he says next, “The historic socialism, and ours, have not fully understood its functioning."

I was not aware that there are two types of socialism in Cuba! Never mind. According to the author, neither seems to be adequate.

I am sure there is a need for improving business management in Cuba, but that suggestion made in contrast with socialism, historic or otherwise, seems to put the blame squarely on socialism. And that is quite an accusation to make in a country that vows to maintain its socialist character.

At the end of the article the author lists some topics that he considers missing such as the biotechnology and pharmaceutical production, and remittances and revenues from Cuban international medical services. I personally would have liked to see more information about the progress of the co-operative system that the Lineamientos for the new Cuban economic model has promised. There is no mention of that in the article.

This is not the only article from Cuba opening a direct challenge (often less subtle) on the Cuba we have known and supported for about 60 years. Therefore, with some anxiety I am left asking, are we seeing a call to improve the new economic model in Cuba, or to redesign a totally “new" Cuba?

I totally agree with the author: “How difficult it is to manage this country.” I would add, when it is ostracised economically.

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Nino Pagliccia

NINO PAGLICCIA has two Master’s Degrees from Stanford University and is a retired researcher on Canada-Cuba collaborative projects at the University of British Columbia. He has published many peer-reviewed journal articles and has contributed chapters to books on topics about Cuba, the Cuban healthcare system and solidarity. He has been a long-time activist and has organized groups to do voluntary work in Cuba for almost 15 years.

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