The Great Chronicler of the Cuban Economic Disaster / Ernesto Santana
Posted on September 24, 2013
HAVANA, Cuba , September www.cubanet.org – I don't remember the first
time I heard or read his name, but it must have been in the mid-90s on
Radio Marti, which at that time, despite the strong obstruction of its
signal, I could still listen to. I do know that by the end of that
decade his name was one of the most recognizable to me among the
journalist who were dedicated to disclosing, from within Cuba, the
reality we were living in the country, while offering his ideas and
opinions that helped to better understand not only what happened, but
also why it happened and what could be done to stop it from happening.
For many years Radio Martí was, for me, as it was for many Cubans, the
only source of alternative information, and listening to Oscar Espinosa
Chepe I learned and understood, from my ignorance in this respect, the
value of many of those small and innumerable elements that shaped the
economy of the nation.
In fact, I had a more concrete idea of concepts such as methods of
production, which always seemed to me like entelechies of Marxist
economic doctrine. In general, over the years — also reading his
frequent articles published in different media — I discovered the
integral thesis of Espinosa Chepe, although I fear this term is
reductive; it was that almost all the elements that constituted the
entire machinery of the Cuban economy didn't work or worked badly
because, simply, the economic conception that ruled the gears didn't
function in practice, but in a fictional world composed of ideological
and authoritarian dogmas, an absurd world divorced from human reality.
Others said this as well, of course, but it was Espinosa Chepe who
demonstrated it without stridency or getting lost in the numbers, but
with balanced studies on specific topics where the data and analysis
formed a convincing and irrefutable body, with what Miriam Celaya,
talking about one of the economist's books, called "the particular
accent of documentation."
In his articles, the variety of themes is so vast that his
investigations could hardly fail to be important in the economic field
of the country. And in the end, the conclusion this social scientist
showed us described the process of how, simply, the Revolution was
turned into Involution.
But what Oscar Espinosa Chepe communicated to us with a simplicity and
remarkable wisdom, came not only from his research and diving into a
thousand books and countless theories, but also, and perhaps above all,
his own experience of life itself, although he never speaks of that in
For this man, committed to the pursuit of a better future for his
country, was not imprisoned for the first time in the sinister spring of
2003; he had already been in prison in 1957, as a teenager, for opposing
the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. After 1959, he was among the
millions who participated in what they believed to be the building of a
dream; he worked in the Central Planning Board, as an economic adviser
in the diplomatic service, and finally in the National Bank of Cuba.
The events that began to shake Eastern Europe from the mid-80s showed
him the necessity for profound changes in economic and social thinking
and, accused of being counterrevolutionary, he had no option but to
enter the political opposition, even if it meant passing through Villa
Marista prison and the worst prisons in the country, which ended up
aggravating his health, by then already deteriorating.
But neither prison nor illness convinced him that he should cease his
work, let alone leave his country permanently. He devoted himself to his
mission with diligence and conviction of a Jesuit, he felt obliged to
give evidence as an expert working in the events. The titles of the
books he has published ("Chronicle of a disaster," "Cuba: Revolution or
involution") illustrate what has been his reason for living: to shed
light on the details of a long and gloomy national event that is
inscribed in a socio-economic system that he called "the most colossal
scam known to history."
Deep in the eye of the hurricane, Oscar Espinosa Chepe has always been
an honest person courageously committed to the progress of Cuba which,
dedicating to us with the great generosity of his years and his
intelligence without a hint of complaint, never allowing himself to
sacrifice professional ethics. This is perhaps the best part of his
lucid and illuminating example.
By Ernesto Santana Zaldivar
23 September 2013
Source: "The Great Chronicler of the Cuban Economic Disaster / Ernesto
Santana Zaldivar | Translating Cuba" -