Cuba Trying to Avoid That "Special Period"
Posted by Editor on June 23, 2016 in Commentary
by Daniel Nardini
As Cuba's ally Venezuela is falling apart, it has become only too
apparent that socialism does not work, and that for Cuba to avoid
Venezuela's fate must continue to change its system of economics. For
decades, Cuba had followed the example of the former Soviet Union—strict
controls on prices and commodities, and a command economy completely
regulated by the government. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Cuban
economy virtually collapsed with it. This comes as no surprise because
the Soviet Union kept the stagnant Cuban economy afloat, and protected
from the former U.S. embargo.
After 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, this was no longer
possible. Cuba experienced what has been called a "Special Period." Food
shortages, electrical shortages (due to the shortage of oil and coal
formerly supplied by the Soviet Union), agriculture breaking down, and
people unable to make a living because the state controlled the means of
production and therefore stymied economic incentive. When a former
soldier and socialist named Hugo Chavez won election in Venezuela in
1999, he automatically sided with Cuba. This saved Cuba from total
economic collapse. Chavez provided Cuba with ample oil and natural gas,
money from its huge cash reserves, and became a conduit for consumer
goods that were impossible to obtain in Cuba. Now that Venezuela looks
like it is about to collapse, this has not been helping Cuba.
But the current Cuban President, Raul Castro, learned that in order for
Cuba to avoid its previous Special Period," has to change the way the
economy is structured, how people live, and allow people to create their
own private businesses. Old economic dogmas are being cast aside in
Cuba, and the Cuban government is allowing farmers to finally grow their
own produce and sell it on a newly created open market. In essence, Raul
Castro is doing the opposite of what Venezuela is doing—casting aside
socialism in favor of a market economy that can be found in China,
Vietnam and Laos today. Although the Cuban government is trying to
censor any negative news coming out of Venezuela, such information is
hard to stop entirely. What Cubans hear about what is happening in
Venezuela is what many of them experienced during their Special Period.
It is a period Cubans do not wish to return to.
Source: Chicago Hispanic Newspaper, Lawndale News, Hispanic Bilingual
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