Friday, September 23, 2011

Capitalism in Castro's Island / Iván García

Capitalism in Castro's Island / Iván García
Iván García, Translator: Unstated

The Cuba of the 21st century is split in two. The islet of the gentleman
and the atoll of the comrade. The keys of capitalism are recognizable.
Neon lights, fresh paint, large windows and air conditioning.
In its stores, hotels, cabarets, nightclubs, bars and restaurants
charging in hard currency (with New York prices), its employees,
uniformed and smiling, calling you Sir or Madam and allowing you to
order them around.

It is the capitalism of the Castros. There, there are no revolutionary
slogans nor murals featuring the faces of the five spies imprisoned in
the U.S..

What is left is for the Cuban of the comrade. The bodegas, farmer's
markets, paperwork and municipal housing offices, lines to collect
pensions and low-class bars.

People are treated badly and rarely laugh. Cheap watered rum in dirty
hot places. In this slice of tropical socialism if you say Sir or Madam
they sneer at you. The appellation is compañero or compañera

Since 1993, when the enemy's dollar was legalized, Cuba has operated at
two speeds. It's not that things are efficient in the pockets of
capitalism, but one notices the difference.

In addition to Chinese goods, as everywhere in the world, there are
Japanese clocks, music equipment from Germany, South Korean plasma
televisions, and unrestrainedly, shoddy goods that say Made in USA,
haughtily mocking the embargo fence.

If you want to live better in the Marxist capitalism of the Castro
brothers, you must have dollars, euros, Swiss francs, or pounds
sterling. Any first-world currency is worth its weight in gold in Cuba.

The national currency, the Cinderella, with which you are paid once a
month in factories, state agencies and checkbooks of retirees, only
serves to buy food, a few pounds of pork and pay the electricity bills,
water and telephone, if you have one.

The death of Castro socialism began without fanfare on July 26, 1993,
with the legalization of the dollar. Although the slogan of Socialism or
Death and continued to be heard at the November 7th celebrations of the
triumph Bolshevik Soviet Union. And cyclically, the comrades and those
who have always lived like gentlemen, are seen uniformed with their AKM
rifles, preparing for war against the 'evil empire'.

Fidel Castro has been a real political contortionist. The Taliban
discourse, the dictatorship of the proletariat, national sovereignty,
permanent mobilizations, unlimited sacrifice, and a bright future. But
behind the scenes the entrepreneurs or businessmen passing through
Havana fall in love.

Their olive green revolution needs dollars for the carburetor. And many.
Let them come. They are the lifeline of the last bastion of communism in
the Western world.

'Prostitutes' by any means. With Revolutionary and abusive taxes of
240% for consumer products sold in hard currency. Storming the pockets
of tourists and Cuban-Americans with first world prices in a nation with
a third world infrastructure.

The commander has only been a strategist for survival. To stay in power,
anything goes. He once said that if he had not had the support of the
USSR, he would have allied himself with the native bourgeoisie. They
wouldn't have packed their bags and headed north. With gifts and
sophistry he paid for his revolution.

This is what is happening, with the millions that will come by way of
remittances. The Brothers of Biran are a kind of Caribbean Robin Hood.
Apparently, they take the money from those who have more to "give to the

The reality is that neither the poor nor the capital nor the provinces
of the island — including the vaunted social achievements such as
education and public health — benefit from the billions in hard currency
coming into the country annually.

Worst of all is that you cannot ask uncomfortable questions. You have to
blindly trust "our leaders." They know what they are doing. They are the
"Saviors of the Fatherland."

Now, have patience and trust in Comrade Raul. Or, the Lord? These high
levels in the exotic Cuban social process, and I swear I do not understand.

September 21 201

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