Saturday, May 21, 2016

Capitalism From Afar

Cuba: Capitalism From Afar / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 14 May 2016 — Eight months haven't been enough for the
state-owned employer in the tourism sector to hire Yasmani, 23, a black
guy nearly six feet talk who is perfecting his English in a private
academy in Havana and who has wasted time and money learning the secrets
of golf at a club south of the city.

Almost a year ago, on a night of drinking and reggaeton, Yasmani, with a
degree in tourism, met a British businessman who wants to do business in
Cuba in high class tourism.

"Do you know golf?" the man asked me. "I told him a remembered reading
somewhere about Tiger Woods, little more. He said to try to learn the
sport, with my command of English and the education I have, maybe I
could get a job as a caddy," said Yasmani, speaking from the doorway of
his house.

The olive-green regime buried golf, labeling it aristocratic. One
morning in 1961 Fidel Castro and Ernesto Guevara planned a round of golf
at the old Havana Biltmore Country Club, with the intention of staging a
parody of the golf parties in the United States were Eisenhower and
Nixon played.

Five and a half decades later, Raul Castro, hand-picked by his brother,
has among his master strategies the development of golf courses in the
country in exclusive luxury resorts for tourists with checkbook balances
ended in six zeros.

In Cuba, there aren't even a hundred a people who play gold. The
majority are the children of the Communist bourgeoisie officials
bewitched by haute couture, the bon vivant, and consumer luxuries. While
their fathers speak through tight lips about the proletariat, they pull
out all the stops living like magnates from Wall Street.

But this doesn't matter to Yasmini. "Some friends have told me that in
one day working as a caddy you can stuff your pockets,"boasts the young
man, still hopeful of being hired by the state company.

The criolla autocracy pays no attention to the voices of citizens who
warn of the environmental risks and the ecological strategies of
maintaining land that wastes a ton of water.

In 2013, the British company Esencia Hotels and Resorts and the Cuban
company Palmares agreed to the creation of a joint venture, Havana
Resort, for the development of golf courses. The Carbonera Club, with 18
holes, about 15 kilometers from Varadero and worth about 350 million
dollars, was presented as the first initiative of this association,
while similar projects are being negotiation with investments from
China, Spain, Vietnam and Russia.

Guy Chartier, President of Wilton Properties, confirmed in February that
the company plans to start a mega project with an investment of 1.4
billion dollars, in Jibacoa 60 kilometers east of Havana, to build
buildings and a luxury hotel, surrounded by seven beaches, golf courses
and tennis courts, an equestrian center and a 'village' for artists.

The Catalan company Urbas, despite losses in 2015 of $ 4.2 million, will
begin the development of a large tourism and real estate project in
Cuba, which includes the construction of luxury hotels and golf courses,
among others facilities, in the city of Cienfuegos, after acquiring 30%
of Caribbean Resort and Golf, with an option to buy up the remaining
70%, according to Europa Press.

The huge complex is projected to cover six to eight square iles in on
the Rancho Luna-Pasacaballos peninsula. Specifically, they plan to build
a marina, six golf courses, six five-star hotels, three
apartment-hotels, 1,500 villas and 3,000 apartments, whose development
would be undertaken through a joint-venture, with private and state
capital, through Cubagolf, whose second partner is the Spanish Company
Caribbean Resort and Golf.

These capitalist options, like the Chanel show, recently held in Havana,
the Havana Festivals and the arrival of cruises to various ports on the
island, can only be observed by ordinary Cubans from a distance, and
behind barriers guarded by the police and State Security agents.

In Cuba we see the implementation of a two-headed version: the worst of
Marxist socialism overlapped with the most primitive capitalism of the
African court.

For domestic consumption, along with ideological propaganda that we have
to be wary of imperialism, and the false promise of a prosperous and
sustainable socialism. Meanwhile, ordinary Cubans, look through the
display windows at the exorbitant prices in hard currency of LED TV sets
or domestic appliances.

Josué, a taxi driver on the Palma-Fraternity Park line, is clear. "This
is capitalism for a while now. Only for a few. The rest can go fuck
themselves," he says, navigating around the numerous potholes on Diez de
Octubre Street in Havana.

But Yasmani, who aspires to be a caddy, is trying to save himself by
entering the capitalism club. Even if he has to carry the clubs.

Source: Cuba: Capitalism From Afar / Iván García – Translating Cuba -

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