Reports from Cuba: A lost bet

By Fernando Damaso in Translating Cuba:

A Lost Bet

After more than half a century of absolute power, many of the real and imagined problems that have historically served as the rationale for the Cuban revolution have not been resolved. Most have gotten worse; others have arisen that had previously not existed.

The housing shortage — thousands of families living in precarious and overcrowded conditions, thousands of people housed in inadequate facilities — offers a clear demonstration of its failure. The insufficient and inefficient public transport system, which has for years has been unable meet people’s most basic needs, along with a wide variety of abysmal and unreliable public services are other indications of failure. If we include the significant loss of agricultural capacity, industrial obsolescence, the failure to make major investments or infrastructure improvements, and pervasive low productivity, the situation becomes chaotic.

Political and social promises have still not been fulfilled. Civil liberties and basic human rights remain in short supply. Meanwhile, salaries and pensions are low while racial and gender discrimination, violence on the street and in the home, poor education, anti-social attitudes, drug addiction, corruption and disregard for the natural environment continue.

Blame for this chain of calamities has always been placed on the “embargo.” But even before it was a topic of conversation, and at a time when the country enjoyed huge Soviet subsidies, these problems never improved much less got resolved. Instead, abundant resources were squandered on foreign wars, subsidized insurgencies, absurdly grandiose and ultimately doomed projects, and other daredevil adventures.

Though they adopt revolutionary rhetoric, the socialist state and its leaders have irrefutably demonstrated that in Cuba the system does not work, that it is impractical, just as has happened in all other socialist countries that bet on it.

Advocating for “a prosperous, efficient, sustainable, sovereign, independent and democratic socialism” is advocating for a contradiction. It amounts to yet another utopian ideal intended to delude citizens and hold onto power for a bit longer, knowing that, in the end, it will fail just as it has in the past. While perhaps attractive in theory, socialism is a failure in practice. Betting on it, in any of its guises, means certain loss.