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Yenisel Rodriguez Perez: I lived in Cuba my entire life until March 30, 2013. I am currently a resident in the city of Miami along with my father. Despite the 90 miles that separate Havana and Miami, I find profound reasons in both for political and community activism. My encounter with socio-cultural anthropology eight years ago prepared me for a commitment of love for cultural diversity.

The End of Havana’s Historic Cuatro Caminos Market

March 17, 2014 | Print Print |

Yenisel Rodriguez Perez

The current closed state of the Cuatro Caminos market. Photo by Graham Sowa.

HAVANA TIMES — It is rumored Havana’s popular Cuatro Caminos market has been offered to Chinese capital. After 50 years of mismanagement, the news came as no surprise. Plenty of misguided government projects have ended up in the hands of foreign investors, after all.

Fort the time being, it looks as though the market will be spared total collapse by becoming a sophisticated place for spending money, by being refashioned into a space for consumption that is even further beyond the reach of the majority of the population than it is was before it closed.

If the rumors are true, then Cuatro Caminos will lose its last, the remaining vestiges of affordability and we will have yet another sanctuary of impracticable consumption.

Years ago, the government pushed the homeless, alcoholics and street vendors that gathered in one of the market’s neighboring streets out of the area. It is a place where the poorest and most underprivileged in the neighborhood meet. Could this be one of the reasons they decided to shut down the marketplace?

The pro-capitalist complicity of Cuban governments has taken us from the American Ten-Cent markets to the Chinese supermarket, passing through the industrial aesthetic of the vast Soviet warehouses. First-rate or second-rate establishments always aligned with geopolitical interests removed from the needs of Cuban citizens.

With the Mariel port, the government hopes to place Cuba on the list of tax havens and fill the country with maquilas, a la Cetral America. In Cuba’s case, this government has the advantage of a depoliticized working class eager to trade paid underemployment for underpaid employment.

They would let the woodsman rape us as a reward for saving us from the wolf.

With time, the political “will” to liberate the productive forces from inside will be left behind and the logic of foreign investment and of subordination to transnational companies will begin to be favored.

That other tyranny, that of economic growth and the capitalization of the economy, will begin to blossom.


What's your opinion?

  • Moses Patterson

    Excellent insight into Cuba’s future. Yenisel left out the part that once Cuba goes completely capitalistic, the military oligarchy will convert into private sector robber barons in the style of the former Russian military elite who are today’s Russian millionaires. Could this finally be the ‘New Man’ Che spoke about?

    • Dan

      You seem to miss the fact that most of the HT writers who predict a return to capitalism in Cuba are horrified, not thrilled about it, as you are. You never fail to gloat with the prospect. TINA, right Moses ?

      • Moses Patterson

        It is not gloating. I see it as inevitable. The “Cuban” personality is not inclined to socialism. This was a bad idea and a bad fit from day one. Those who resist capitalism for Cuba’s future do so out of fear of repeating the past. I think it is possible to avoid the brutality and severe inequality while encouraging competition and risk-taking.

        • Lambert McLaurin

          So how do you make people be just a little bit greedy?

          Perhaps the same way you
          make them a little bit pregnant?