Cuba's Slow Awakening
August 27, 2012
HAVANA TIMES — The following is an excerpt from a piece published in the
"Letters to the Editor" section of the Spanish edition of the official
"There might be other reasons to explain why productivity hasn't
increased, but what has been demonstrated so far is that the methods
adopted haven't succeeded, despite the years they've been employed.
"A completely different situation is happening with the prices of
products and services that people have to buy for their everyday
"With the exception of the few products that are still on the ration
book, but that only cover the needs for a part of the month, the other
prices are constantly increasing. Some of those are because they're
imported and prices are increasing globally, while others are because
these are artificially increased by self-employed vendors.
"Such prices are rising beyond the reach of the average family, whose
situation is becoming extremely tense and in time will become
unbearable." — E. Naranjo Torres
Almost all the letters in that section have a similar ring, with the
fault being directed at and falling on self-employed workers,
bureaucrats or capitalism – though the system itself remains intact.
The part saying the ration book "only covers the needs for a part of the
month" is an inaccurate expression; it covers only some basic products
for a fraction of the month. But apart from these digressions and
inaccuracies, I think the man made some very bold statements: the
economic reforms "haven't succeeded" and "the situation is becoming
If this same thing had been said by some blogger, no supporter of the
revolution from abroad would have believed it. It's true that there's no
starvation or a humanitarian crisis, but things are looking ugly and in
time it's likely "they'll become unbearable."
Raul's reforms, at least in the capital, haven't been successful. The
GDP* has been on an uphill march since 1994, but the purchasing power of
the average Cuban family seems to be going backward. It's the same with
health care, education, the availability of food and public transportation.
I sense a growing discomfort, but one that shows no signs of evolving
into any kind of new political consciousness. It's as if they've
administered a vaccine against it.
If disturbances were to occur in the future, the political and economic
elites would make the most of that at the expense of those who are the
most passive and unorganized: the general public and the workers.
The distortion of political consciousness is a key in the construction
of "socialism" – but it's also its weakness.