Biden’s latest concession to the Castro dictatorship will do little to help the Cuban people

Despite claims by the State Department that opening up U.S. banking to Cuba’s “private” businesses will help spark entrepreneurship on the island, the reality is it will do little to nothing. The communist Castro dictatorship ultimately controls every aspect of the economy in Cuba, including the private sector, and will be the only one who will reap any major benefits from Biden’s unilateral concession. This leaves Cubans wondering, “What now?”

An Op-Ed by Luis Flores in CiberCuba (my translation):

What now?

The new amendments from the U.S. Treasury Department promise to boost Cuban entrepreneurs, but will they really change the life of the average Cuban? Importing products does not create wealth, and without a real economic opening, these measures will only benefit a few. It’s time for the Cuban regime to take action for a change.

The Biden administration has just given a gift to Cuban entrepreneurs. The implementation of new amendments by the U.S. Treasury Department to support them is presented as an attempt to boost the island’s economy. However, we must be clear: these measures, although well-intentioned, are not sufficient to generate a significant change in the life of the average Cuban.

Importing Chicken Does Not Create Wealth

The importation of basic products, such as chicken, is not a sustainable solution. It does not generate wealth or promote internal economic development. It is simply an important initial step, but on its own, it does not address the roots of Cuba’s economic crisis. The case of Obama’s policies made it clear that limited opening did not produce real change for the people. We saw a proliferation of hostels, restaurants, and some businesses in the hands of self-employed entrepreneurs, cruises, Chanel parades, and Hollywood filming, but for most Cubans, especially those without access to remittances from abroad, life remained a daily struggle.

More Business for Importers, But Little Real Change

The new amendments will allow some to import more products and perhaps open bank accounts in the United States. This could benefit a small group of importers and entrepreneurs, but what about the average Cuban who does not receive remittances? For these people, life on the island will remain extremely difficult. We will see more luxury cars and well-stocked supermarkets in the main cities, but millions of Cubans will not have access to these products. The signs of apparent prosperity will not translate into real improvements for the general population.

Make no mistake, this measure will bring important results for Cubans. Just the fact that hundreds of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will compete to sell their products will tend to lower prices, but this has a limited path. Merchants will only be able to compete with their commercial margin, as the cost of products in the international market and their importation cannot be avoided. Products imported from the U.S., Europe, or Panama will never be cheap for the Cuban who lives on a salary.

The Need for Real Economic Opening

The U.S. government is not the cause of poverty on the island, nor is it the solution. The Cuban regime must understand that the economy cannot be sustained solely with imports and remittances. A genuine economic opening is required to allow the creation of internal wealth. The current measures only perpetuate the dependence on remittances and state-controlled foreign trade. Without comprehensive economic reform that includes market liberalization and the elimination of bureaucratic obstacles, the new amendments will be insufficient.

A Call to the Regime

The ball is in the regime’s court. It is their responsibility to take action and take advantage of this opportunity to implement profound changes that truly benefit the entire population. If a significant economic opening does not occur as a counterpart to these measures, the effect will be minimal, and ultimately, we will see a return to harsher policies with the arrival of less favorable administrations in the United States. We already saw this with Trump’s arrival, and right now, Trump’s second term is just around the corner.

We hope the regime does not make the same mistake twice. It is imperative that concrete measures are taken to unleash the economic potential of the Cuban people. Without true economic reform, any improvement will be superficial and temporary. Cubans deserve more than simple palliatives; they deserve the opportunity to thrive in their own land.

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