Cuba – A Socialist Failure
Posted by TIE on Jul 27, 2013 in Latest Edition,
By Geeta Spolia
“I was not chosen to be president to restore capitalism to Cuba,” he
said. “I was elected to defend, maintain and continue to perfect
socialism, not destroy it.” These are the words of current Cuban
president, Raul Castro, reacting to the idea that his nation is on the
path to abandoning socialism.
Yet, even he seems to have accepted that ‘the Cuban model doesn’t even
work for Cubans anymore’, a frank admission made by the erstwhile Cuban
president and his brother, Fidel Castro.
After the revolution of 1959, and since the 1960s, under the leadership
of the communist revolutionary Fidel Castro, Cuba’s has been a socialist
economy in which there was an emphasis on central planning and pubic
ownership because of which the state owned and controlled the means of
production and private property includes and was limited to items of
personal use. The Communist party had complete control over public and
private life. Since 2008, when he fell ill, leadership passed into the
hands of Fidel Castro’s brother, Raul who has been president since.
Ever since, Cuba has gradually entered a new era wherein elements of the
past let in and combined with the features of market economics. The
anachronistic and rigidly socialist ideals have given way to a new
public-private hybrid model. Different forms of property ownership,
production and investment have come about. The state-dominated economy
is allowing more and more for more operation of non-state actors. Real
estate, private credit and wholesale markets have seen modest
beginnings. Castro had the task of implementing economic reforms while
maintaining the continuity of the political system. This was to provide
a boost to production and employment through limited entrepreneurship
and private initiatives in small-scale enterprises. These reforms have
been implemented in the face of the recognition that Cuba must face the
challenges that arise internally, from within its borders, in the
aftermath of its revolution.
Some of the positive outcomes of the socialist structure were universal
literacy, an excellent free healthcare system and low levels of crime.
On the flipside there was also rampant poverty in a suppressive and
regressive regime that left little room for dissidence and allowed for
uninhibited abuse of human rights. Underground capitalism had always
existed away and out of plain view, but ensuring the socialist state’s
Reorganizing the economy is really just a formal acceptance of what has
long existed mutely in Cuba. However, the path to market liberalization
is marked by several difficulties owing to Cuba’s political, economic,
geographic and demographic peculiarities. It cannot thus adopt the same
path as say, China or Vietnam. It has structural weaknesses, such as a
vast aging population, deficient productivity and a services-oriented
economy. It has experienced fifty-one years of socialist rule, and has
to be eased into the market slowly, lest it collapses under the sudden
pressure. If the road to liberalization has been shaky and tumultuous,
it is due to the leadership’s commitment to the ideals of the great
revolution, and while change is inevitable in the current global
scenario, it will come incrementally.
With Raul Castro ready to step down in 2018, which will see the end of
his final term as president, the country will see a much-needed change
in leadership and ideology. Cuba is a long way from capitalism and being
a market economy, but the timid steps taken by the Raul Castro
government have set it off in that inevitable direction. It will be
interesting to see the unique course it takes in the coming years.
Source: “Cuba – A Socialist Failure | The Indian Economist” –