Cuba: Having to “Eat Crow”July 3, 2012 | Print |
HAVANA TIMES — “Eating crow” is a less formal way of expressing the humiliation of having been proven wrong after taking a firm position.
For some time now in Cuba, such a kick in the teeth has been reflected in new organizational arrangements such as joint ventures, corporations and foreign investment, which are currently quite common.
These operations have much to do with the market economy that is so criticized by the government while it strives to conceal its involvement with them.
When the Eastern European socialist bloc collapsed in the early 1990s, the classically dimwitted attitude of the government became once again evident in its desperate decision making.
Because of this, priority was given to the development of the tourism industry, putting on the back burner other strategic sectors such as sugar production, to cite only one example.
Although it is undeniable that tourism in Cuba has guaranteed substantial flows of hard currency, we must admit that it has been a gradual and not an immediate process, and that it has also brought certain social ills along with it.
Communities submerged in poverty and ill-educated in indifference to work tended to see their values subverted. As a consequence their rates of prostitution, drug abuse and sexually transmitted diseases soared.
The forces of repression began to crack down sharply on hustlers and prostitutes; in fact, special prisons (euphemistically referred to as “centers for secured women”) were created for the new prostitutes.
Class differences became accentuated as did the marked increase of small-scale theft by workers, who didn’t miss an opportunity to take home supplies and food that they couldn’t buy in hard-currency stores at ridiculous prices compared to their miserable wages.
Likewise, grand larceny became evident in the embezzlement and misappropriation of funds — even money laundering — by managers and senior officials. This made up the other part of the tragedy.
In one of his speeches, Fidel Castro himself publicly acknowledged that tourism fostered these obstacles. Nonetheless, the country increasingly turned to this source for multiplying its new source of income.
Indeed, tourism, family remittances from abroad, and international “assistance” missions (by professionals from the health care, educational and sports fields) have now become the three fundamental sources of cash income for the island.
Why produce… we produce practically nothing.
Now, with the withdrawal of Repsol from Cuba after finding no oil in its first drill, hopes are dissipating for our being able to self-supply and also export “black gold.” If that weren’t enough, the possible seriousness of Chavez’ health puts in danger the large quantities of fuel we currently receive daily.
But, like in the ‘90s, there’s already a plan B of contingencies. These include the development of the “Punta Colorada Cuba Golf Marina,” which entails the construction of numerous golf courses, recreation centers, luxury hotels, hunting lodges and docks for VIP tourism.
Although this plan is not talked about in detail, it’s known that the laying of its foundation has already begun.
But isn’t this maneuvering just another pillar of social corruption and perversion? – as the ex-president said on one occasion.
What is this project other than a flagrant example of the introduction of that same market economy that the socialist government has criticized for so long? It appears there’s no choice but to “eat crow.”