June 28, 2011 6:11 pm by Ron Buchanan
Havana may not yet rival Harvard, but an MBA course is shortly to be
launched in the communist-ruled Cuban capital. Che Guevara might be
turning in his grave.
The invitation to the MBA course has been extended by the Archdiocese of
Havana, in conjunction with the San Antonio Catholic University of
Murcia in Spain. Only 40 places are available. The course will form
cadres for a still tiny private sector in Cuba that is expected to grow
rapidly under reforms announced recently by President Raúl Castro.
Raúl seems to have the backing of his brother and líder máximo of the
Revolution, Fidel. And at least some change is on the way.
Cuban property laws are more Pyongyang than Palm Beach, but new
legislation allows foreign investors to acquire 99-year leases on state
land. And at least some foreign real-estate agents are rubbing their
hands in glee at the prospect of a boom in golf courses linked to
So why are the Castros willing to do this, after decades of swearing
their troth to Marxism? The word from the bongo drums in Havana is that
they have no alternative in order to save their regime. Vietnam-style,
or indeed Chinese, reforms are the only way out.
But these very same drums are telling another story too, one of a
Stalinist group within the power structure that is resistant to change.
Already there have been major delays in the reforms, especially the most
Raúl has announced massive lay-offs in a state sector whose payroll is
massively padded. So far the lay-offs have yet to happen.
Which is where the Catholic Church comes in as an ally of the proponents
of reform. The MBA course is the latest in a series of educational
initiatives by the Church in association with Catholic universities in
Spain and Mexico.
By now the Church has established an alternative to the state-controlled
educational system almost throughout the island. The courses, in what
loosely be regarded as social sciences, are tinged by Catholic ideology.
The Stalinist comrades might not like it but — so far, at least — they
are lumping it.