Engagement with Cuba, via trade and tourism will create a middle class, which in turn will create the necessary conditions for democracy.
In spite of all evidence to the contrary, that mindset is endlessly espoused within articles and comments about Cuba in the media. It seems entrenched doctrine when it comes to U.S. Cuba relations, and not just among those actively promoting the regimes interests, but also among many well-intentioned but misinformed folks hoping for normalization with Cuba.
Years ago, Val posted a list of things Cubans cannot do in order to illustrate the reality of life for Cuban’s living under the boot heel of state control. With the onslaught of stories heralding all the so-called reforms in recent years, I think it is useful to revisit that list to see what if anything, has really changed in Cuba.
What Cubans Cannot Do
• Travel abroad without government permission – Well, the bigger the scam, the bolder the lie.
• Change jobs without government permission – No change
• Change residence without government permission No change – The law known as Decree 217 limits the internal freedom of movement of Cubans.
• Access the Internet without government permission (the Internet is closely monitored and controlled by the government. (Only 1.67% of the population has access to the Internet). – Internet access remains under 5%. See Freedom House Report.
• Send their children to a private or religious school (all schools are government run, there are no religious schools in Cuba).- No change
• Watch independent or private radio or TV stations (all TV and radio stations are owned and run by the government). Cubans illegally watch/listen to foreign broadcasts. – No change
• Read books, magazines or newspapers, unless approved/published by the government (all books, magazines and newspapers are published by the government). – No change
• Receive publications from abroad or from visitors (punishable by jail terms under Law 88) – No change
• Visit or stay in tourist hotels, restaurants, and resorts – Poverty is also a method of control, and these still are off-limits to average Cubans striving to survive on state controlled wages.
• Seek employment with foreign companies on the island, unless approved by the government – No change
• Run for public office unless approved by Cuba’s Communist Party – No change
• Own businesses, unless they are very small and approved by the government and pay onerous taxes – No change and he told you so.
• Join an independent labor union (there is only one, government controlled labor union and no individual or collective bargaining is allowed; neither are strikes or protests) – No change
• Retain a lawyer, unless approved by the government – No change
• Choose a physician or hospital. Both are assigned by the government. – No change
• Refuse to participate in mass rallies and demonstrations organized by the Cuban Communist Party. – No change
• Criticize the Castro regime or the Cuban Communist Party, the only party allowed in Cuba. – No change
Draconian laws imposed by the Castro dictatorship prohibits the Cuban people from engaging in foreign commerce, and the Cuban military’s complete control over all tourism to the island is a blockade that prevents the kind of normal tourism and commerce that could result in benefits for the Cuban people.