Miércoles, 26 de Octubre de 2016
21:16 CEST.

The exodus and the leaders who caused it

There has been a recent exodus of young Cubans to the United States, fleeing the Island by any means possible. Thousands of Cuban families live in anguish awaiting information about the fate of their children, on the sea or in the forests and borders of South and Central America. The phenomenon is due, in part, to the current situation, but also to more long-standing realities.

Those short-term factors include recent statements by several US congressmen and analysts regarding the Cuban problem, suggesting the possibility of reassessing or eliminating the Cuban Adjustment Act, in light of the US government's new policies.

Another factor that could also be playing a role is that, almost a year since the 17 December, 2014 announcement of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, the Cuban people's expectations of improvements have not been met.

The ruling elite accuses the US of maintaining the blockade / embargo, while the Obama Administration has issued a series of decrees to modify the restrictions in place. If they were ably taken advantage of by Cuba, this could benefit large sectors of the private and cooperative economy. And yet, the bureaucratic State, adopting a retrograde and economically and socially irresponsible position, considers the measures "enemies and Trojan horses of imperialism."

The only true Trojan Horse, however, which has wrecked the Cuban economy and people, who continue to languish and suffer a thousand different deprivations, is the centralized and bureaucratic economic and political models that prevail in Cuba, devoid of any democratic foundation.

And this is the most enduring and important cause of this permanent exodus, which has featured dramatic episodes and incidents during the years of the exodus from Camarioca and the Mariel Boatlift. Young people leave simply because they have no prospects in their own country, a plight rooted in the maintenance of an outdated, exclusionary, monopolistic state model under which citizens have no incentives to strive to get ahead, and any wealth produced ends up in the hands of a military bureaucracy, at the expense of overall economic and social development.

Some analysts observe that the fall in oil prices, the decline in shipments of Venezuelan crude,  the payment of foreign debt and waning nickel prices have also taken a toll on Cuba's state-controlled economy.

However an important aspect which is rarely discussed, although the 7th Community Party Congress is approaching, is the failure of Raúl Castro's government to implement the measures approved by the PCC itself in 2011, which gave rise to great expectations amongst many Cubans, who believed that opportunities for self-employment would be expanded and that people would be allowed to prosper, set up businesses and ply their trades; and that independent, non-state cooperatives would be permitted, like there are everywhere in the world where people freely produce, buy and sell, handle credit, etc.

There were also hopes that an increase in foreign investment would lead to new, well-paid jobs, and that business's new autonomy and the linking of wages to production results would bolster the welfare of workers, while a solution to the problem of the dual currency system was also expected.

But none of that was possible. The complementary legislation was never passed that would have actually enacted these proposals, and all that was ever implemented was an incomplete battery of policies that, instead of advancing these guidelines, paralyzed them.

In short, the economic situation has continued to deteriorate, and the only solution people see is to leave the country.

The answer to this problem is apparently nothing else but overturning Cuba's centralized political and economic model, which has failed at every level. Imposed upon Cuba in the name of Socialism, it has, in fact, been the main cause of all our misfortunes.