Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Reasons Behind the “Changes” in Cuba

The Reasons Behind the "Changes" in Cuba
April 30, 2014
Dariela Aquique

HAVANA TIMES — As of 1960, Cuba was taken under the wing of the former
Soviet Union and became one of its key bastions in the Cold War waged by
the world's two superpowers and their political and economic blocs. The
overseas Communist satellite was fashioned in the image of its mentors:
atheistic, totalitarian and other demons.

Hoping to export Marxist ideology to other parts of the hemisphere, the
island sent doctors and teachers to countries around the continent in
order to secure their sympathy and gratitude, while at the same time
sending troops and military advisors to different guerrilla movements.

The death of Che Guevara and the defeat of many of these guerrilla
movements, the coup d'états and military dictatorships installed across
Latin America, the electoral defeat of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua
(Feb. 1990) and the peace accords of 1989, served to undermine Cuba's
efforts to propagate its political model.

Also in 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. Two years later, the Soviet Union
collapsed. With the fall of State socialism and the rise of
neoliberalism, the moderation of the capitalist economy seemed the only
viable option.

That, however, presupposed hasty changes to the country's political
system and, as such, constituted a threat to the island's totalitarian
regime. Despite this, the Cuban government, faced with an economic
crisis, had no choice but to trace new strategies and introduced a
number of market-oriented reforms, such as the development of the
tourism industry, the legalization of the dollar, the authorization of
self-employment and foreign investment.

These measures were implemented on a small scale and resulted in a
degree of economic growth that was not enough to lift the ruined
national economy off the ground. They did, however, serve to keep the
system, which has always favored a centralized State economy, from

At the close of the last century, Left and Center-Left parties suddenly
became popular and came to power in some countries. Hugo Chavez, a
disciple of the Castro, became the president of Venezuela and a new
patron of the island's government (which it supplied with 100 thousand
barrels of oil a day).

The region, however, was still haunted by prejudices against the
communist specter, and people harbored many reservations vis-à-vis any
version of Cuba's absolutist political system.

The new Latin American Left claims to lay its bets on changes that
involve a reduction of poverty and the gradual elimination of social
inequality. There are even those who speak of a new, Christian socialism
that respects democracy, can co-exist with the opposition and supports
private enterprise.

Cuba had to get in step with the times and grow closer to its new
friends. Medical and other types of internationalist missions served to
strengthen diplomatic ties and consolidate financial and commercial
collaboration and exchange treaties between the island and nearly all
countries in the continent within the context of so-called "Latin
American integration."

To win over allies in the region and reduce existing ill-will, Cuba had
to change in the eyes of world public opinion – it had to show itself
more tolerant and inclusive. The Mariel Special Development Zone is an
example of how the island has managed to take in more dividends.

These are the reasons behind the wave of disconcerting "changes" in
Cuba, which are aimed at disguising the parasitic nature of the
country's economy as it adjusts itself to the new times, when, if you're
not open minded, you are simply left behind.

We are seeing a Cuba that has spread its legs to foreign investment, a
Cuba now announcing it will make Internet available to everyone, which
allows people to buy and sell houses and cars, go to hotels, travel
without a permit and own a cell phone, all the while capitalizing on the
enthusiasm over Latin American integration.

Source: The Reasons Behind the "Changes" in Cuba - Havana -

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