April 18, 2012
Yenisel Rodriguez Perez
HAVANA TIMES, 18 abr — A few days ago I was walking through the always
surprising streets of Havana's Vedado district, where each block
constitute its own micro-world environment with trees and shadows.
While looking for a friend's house, I came upon one of those mansions
that were confiscated from some bourgeois owner by the new revolutionary
government back in the 1960s and converted into the headquarters of some
government institution or office.
Behind a well maintained fence, what hit my eyes was a brightly lit sign
that read: GEASP, el Grupo Empresarial de Apoyo a la Salud Pública
(Public Health Business Support Group).
"What the hell is this?" I wondered, surprised.
Like the trees in that district, the lush local bureaucratic imagination
has continued to sprout self-perpetuating conditions over time (what
could be called the "expanded reproduction of administrative capital")
to the extent they have quashed our ability to understand what they're
doing with our lives and the implications of their actions.
So what is the "Public Health Business Support Group"?
As I was reaching 26th Street, it had already occurred to me that I
wasn't going to be able to have an answer to this question to write this
post. I wasn't going to have the time or obtain the authorization to
interview the staff at that place.
I wasn't going to be able to do what they call "investigative
journalism," what journalists themselves — here and everywhere else —
know is something difficult to do.
This is because after any investigation comes "ideological
normalization," a fundamental part of the standardized production and
mass reproduction of (mis)information by those rapscallions of the news
industry, those who are committed to the global status quo, one in which
our country is like so many others.
Nevertheless when I got to my friend's house, I asked him for the
telephone book, the 2009-2010 Havana directory, which was the most
up-to-date one he had. I searched under "P" for Public Health Business
Support Group, but I didn't find it. However to my surprise, I counted
76 "business groups" listed in the Cuban capital.
Within this corporate matrix I found entities like the "Ministry of
Higher Education Business Group," the "Capital Goods Business Group,"
the "State Activities Attention Group of the Ministry of Agriculture,"
the "Mountain Agriculture Business Group," the "Science, Technology and
Environment Business Group," the "Local Industries Business Group of
Havana," "Fruit Growing Business Group," the "Marlin Nautical and Marine
Business Group Ltd.," the "Electronic, Computer Science, Automation and
Communications Business Group," and so on.
After leafing through the directory and taking mental notes, I began to
feel like I was sharpening the initial idea I had for this article, and
at the same time I felt surer of the utility of writing it. It could
contribute to making understandable this dark hole, one as immense and
expansive as those in the cosmos.
It was understandable that "my" Public Health Business Support Group
wasn't listed. With this sweeping institutional reorganization that the
commanders of the revolution are carrying out — from their
air-conditioned offices, and without informing anyone — it's hard to
find out anything that's going on.
Beyond the concrete existence of the Business Group, what the telephone
book showed me was something that I was already sensing the moment I saw
the solitary light of the GEASP sign: these are the concrete and
materially existing institutions that make up what only a few people
today understand as Cuban state capitalism.
They are a conglomerate of companies that have no direct relationship
with any social institutions, with any municipality, with any People's
Council or any Zone Committee or community initiative.
In exchange, the socialist state sucks from these any possible chance of
functioning like proper businesses in order to fill its coffers while
making itself appear in the aura of a manna-giving God. Miraculously, a
small part of these resources are provided to society, for which we're
convinced we should be grateful – like eternally incapacitated children.
This is what the "socialist order" means for the commanders of the Cuban
revolution: a great work of philanthropy that allows them to live
comfortably like eccentric millionaires and intellectually exhaust four
generations in the moral quagmire of the "freebies of the revolution."
Perhaps others can research and investigate this in more detail and
greater depth, but broadly speaking, what else could the Public Health
Business Support Group be?