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Erasmo Calzadilla: I find it difficult to introduce myself in public. I've tried many times but it doesn’t flow. I’m more less how I appear in my posts, add some unpresentable qualities and stir; that should do for a first approach. If you want to dig a little deeper, ask me for an appointment and wait for a reply.

Cuba’s Future: How to Prepare Ourselves for a Hurricane Worse than Sandy

January 2, 2014 | Print Print |

Erasmo Calzadilla

Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — If we’re to believe science and our biological temperature sensors, industrial civilization and the world we live in as a whole will be gasping for air in less than two decades. The shortage of raw materials, the ecological catastrophe and the trauma of falling from so high will turn everything we know upside down.

In economically poor countries that import their sources of energy, the mess will be felt a little sooner. Here, in Cuba, it will begin as soon as the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela slips and falls.

With such dark clouds already looming above us, shouldn’t we be covering up our windows with boards or something like that? Do Cuba’s leaders at the very least regard this hypothesis as a possibility? Are they correctly informing the people about a future that does not look too good?

I would be prudent not to bet on it. The Castros already got us into a mess one time making us believe the socialist bloc would last forever. History threatens to repeat itself. What do General/President Raul Castro and his team of advisors think about the current oil and climate panorama?

If we follow the trail of State investment in Cuba, we can discern how those who still hold the reins think. They don’t strike me as worried. Rather, one gets the sense that they are getting ready for a new era of fat cattle, and hotels and golf courses at full capacity, prosperous international trade and harbors replete with yachts.

The decision to spend our meager resources to doll up the country for the great ballroom dance of dollars and Yuans strikes me as an extremely dangerous bet. Would you build a palace (and I am also thinking about a sophisticated fields of solar panels here) with a hurricane practically at your doorstep?

Another way of getting to understand the Cuban government’s vision of the future is reading Cuba’s official press. Granma (the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party), Orbe (published by Prensa Latina), Telesur (the official television channel of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas) and others who applaud every step towards development (measured on the basis of the GDP) taken by progressive governments, led by Russia and China, and sing praises every time a new oil rig begins operations.

All of this indicates, dear friends, that our own technocrats aren’t looking far into the future and they are very likely to get us into yet another big mess.

If, in spite of their optimistic predictions, the storm triggers, what they are most likely to do is to impose a kind of police and citizen control on us – not because they are particularly evil or stupid, but because that is the logic of power. They look after their own interests. We should do the same.

What is to be done, then?

I’ll continue to address the issue in my next post.


What's your opinion?

  • Moses Patterson

    The signs of ominous change are everywhere in Cuba. An unremarkable week of rainy weather results in the collapse of hundreds of buildings in Havana. The recent year agricultural output of Cuba’s staple crops, rice, beans, boniato, and bananas all declined. Cuba announces its intent to issue bonds to finance its expected budget deficit. And so on. What Cuba tries to pass on as the best of all news is what other governments consider business as usual. A new car plant, airport renovation, and a visiting cruise line are heralded as proof positive that happy days are around the corner. Nobody’s buying it though. We are definitely in the last days of the Castro revolution.

    • Terry Downey

      The Cuban revolution will survive the Castros. Of course there will be more tweaks and modifications to enhance their country’s ability to move forward with economic development…post Raul…and post economic blockade especially. But the Cuban revolution and the Cuban government haven’t survived the last 55 years to now bend over for the American government. Change will come to Cuba on Cuba’s terms…not on America’s terms.

      • Moses Patterson

        Clap, clap, clap. Nice speech but the facts say otherwise. In order to survive economically, demographically and socially, Cuba will have to make changes that increase production, reduce outmigration and increase confidence in the government. However, if what you mean by the “revolution” is the current so-called free health care and education, you are probably right. But if you define the “revolution” as the denial of human rights, the lack of an independent media and a government run by someone named Castro then the revolution will be dead and gone in less than ten years.

        • Terry Downey

          “To survive economically, demographically, and socially, Cuba will have
          to make changes that increase production, reduce out-migration, and
          increase confidence in the government.” Couldn’t agree with you more.
          But it’s the US economic blockade of Cuba that is denying the
          opportunity to move things along much quicker in that direction. One
          thing begets another. How dynamic do you think the US economy and
          government would be if all of a sudden the Chinese decided to economically
          blockade the US?

          Flipping the script further…I’m also wondering how the US government is going to PUNISH the Chinese for doing business with the Cuban government. What’s your double-standard hypocritical opinion about that? My thought is the US government will do absolutely nothing…nor can they, because China now OWNS the US. I can see a day coming when the Chinese will be dictating the terms to the US government on behalf of Cuba to set that island nation free of your government’s interference. How long do you think the Chinese government will tolerate anything that will hamper them from achieving economic success in Cuba?

          • Moses Patterson

            Terry, you are ALMOST right. The US buys from China more than the Chinese buy from the US. That is too say, we have a TRADE DEFICIT. The US can refuse to sell to China and therefore hurt our businesses but that is not necessary since China needs US products just as much as we need Chinese buyers. So far… On a separate issue, China owns about 18% of US Treasury debt and about 5% of US real estate. Both of these are sufficient to weaken but not destroy the US economy. Once again, the Chinese have very poor second choices as investments in both these areas so we are stalemated. So far..The US embargo is against COMPANIES, not countries who do business with Cuba. This is unlike SANCTIONS which exist with North Korea, Iran, etc. The Chinese will tolerate exactly what they must tolerate. It has been estimated that total Cuban exposure for China’s economy is less than 0.05%. The Chinese will not threaten their best customer over the relatively tiny amount of business they do (or not do) with a small island of 11 million poor people. The City of Los Angeles, for perspective, did TEN TIMES the amount of business with China than Cuba did in 2012. Again, Cuba does not build, process, or manufacture ANYTHING that Americans want in any amount to sustain the argument that embargo is holding Cuba back. On the contrary, if Cuba had mineral wealth, oil, or anything that America wanted, the embargo would be lifted faster than you could spell C-AP-I-T-A-L-I-S-M.

      • oaguilar

        Yes, the revolution will survive, but it would be a new one, a revolution into capitalism, without the Castros and the old communist elite.

      • Fez Fernandez

        Why don’t you leave that for cubans to decide? Oh! I’ve forgotten, we don’t have a democracy!