Cuba: Economic Deja Vu?
Posted By Janine Mendes-Franco On 7 June 2012 @ 19:39 pm
A few Cuban bloggers have been voicing their economic concerns – and
wondering whether the island's recent reforms, some of which include a
more open approach to self-employment – could translate into political
change as well.
Diaspora blogger Uncommon Sense  didn't think much had really changed
on the economic front, noting that:
The average salary in Cuba climbs to $19 a month.
Yes, in 2012 .
Generation Y  admitted to "hav[ing] the impression of being trapped
in a permanent deja vu":
Today at noon I heard on the street words identical to those of
last week; the neighborhood brooding over problems very similar to those
of two decades ago, and at the butcher's a long line seemed modeled on
another of 1994 or 2002. It's hard to shake the feeling that we have
already lived this…One of the recurring scenes is the pursuit of food
and other basic products chronically in short supply in our markets.
Going after a little oil, a package of sausage, or a piece of soap to
Sanchez went on to explain  how "the long-awaited reform that allowed
the rebirth of self-employment has generated some problems that are
barely talked about":
Lacking a wholesale market where they can buy supplies and raw
materials for their small businesses, private workers have turned to the
already weak retail network. They line up at dawn outside the bakeries
and certain shops to acquire large quantities of merchandise that end up
in restaurant and snack bar kitchens. Without any special discounts for
buying in quantity, maintaining a supply of vegetables, grains and meats
becomes a harrowing task, difficult and extremely expensive. In
addition, they significantly decrease the availability of products for
the non-industrial consumer, the individual shopper who needs are only
for home use. The retail majority.
The feeble State commerce is not prepared for the demand of recent
months…If this contradiction isn't resolved, the time will come when
pork, peppers and potatoes can only be found on the plates of paladares
— private restaurants. And the neighbor who complains today, for the
umpteenth time, about the absence of toilet paper, will have to visit
the bathrooms of the new restaurants to remember what those rolls were
like, so white, so soft.
Bad Handwriting  shared an interesting perspective, having attended a
meeting organised by the journal Temas (Topics), about issues of
I expanded my horizons as a housewife. I learned that artists and
religious priests are also "self-employed" workers, and that this
category will soon become 20% of the workforce. I also found a display
on 600 employed persons, which showed that they earn on average six
times more than in their former state job.
There were those who came to the defense of the reviled
carretilleros, walking vendors with their carts, who have received a ton
of abuse, as if they were responsible for the lack of variety and the
high price of vegetables.
Although the panel members still used archaic language (especially
the one 'self-employed' panel), they generally spoke of the positive
impact of this emerging sector in the recovery of the value of working
and the need to change social attitudes that see this work as
reprehensible — a form of mild forgetfulness that it is a natural
reaction to a half century of government stigma associated with private
and personal enrichment.
To her though, "the best part [of the meeting] came with the comments":
There was a call for a clear regulatory framework and public
statistics about this new line of work…
The writer Yoss posed a theoretical problem: If all economic power
generates political power, is the state resigned to the possibility of
losing their power? The self-employed comrade on the panel made clear
that, contrary to what we were taught in the manual of political
economy, economic changes will not bring political change, and the party
will remain solely and exclusively in charge.
The young people, as always, shone a bright light. One talked about
eliminating the fear of the reality of the changes, another asked if it
they import and export, if State services such as SEPSA (security) can
be used, if credit cards work. Another said that the union's role is to
defend the worker, not tell the bad news through a press organ of the
Party. Another young professor explained his experience being
self-employed and advocated that the measures to be regularized before
implementation and not vice versa.
I left there in a better mood. We are neither brutish nor dull.
What we lack is freedom.
The thumbnail image used in this post  is by cheeses, used under an
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Creative Commons license . Visit cheeses' flickr photostream .
Article printed from Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org
URL to article:
URLs in this post:
 Generation Y: http://www.desdecuba.com/generationy/?p=3005
 Bad Handwriting:
 thumbnail image used in this post:
 an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA
2.0) Creative Commons license:
 cheeses' flickr photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mollybreslin/