“I am optimistic I will see prosperity in Cuba” / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on August 16, 2014
14ymedio, Havana, 8 August 2014, Reinaldo Escobar – Pinar del Río born
and bread, and a member of the editorial board of the magazine
Convivencia (Coexistence), Karina Gálvez has made some important
decisions in her life. She wants to continue to live in Cuba, to help
change the country from civil society and some to recover the piece of
patio that the authorities confiscated from her parents’ house. Today
she talks with the readers of 14ymedio about her personal evolution, the
Cuban economy, and her dreams for the future.
Question: Isn’t it a bit contradictory to be an economist in Cuba?
Answer: When I graduated, the final subject of my thesis focused on the
economic effectiveness of the use of bagasse (sugar cane stalk fiber)
for boards. The result of the investigation was negative, because making
boards in those conditions was expensive and the product quality was
very bad. But they ignored us.
Q: Since the conclusion of your studies you have dedicated yourself to
teaching. Did you ever instill in your students that socialism was the
best way to manage an economy?
A: Thank God, I have taught subjects that are technical rather than
economic theory. Still, I’ve gotten into trouble. In the course on
economic legislation, I did research in the school where I included many
examples of economic crimes. The “problem” was that I wanted to separate
what was criminal according to current laws, from what was immoral. For
example, one could say “that to kill a cow is a crime, but it’s not
immoral if the cow belongs to you and wasn’t stolen.”
Q: What was your personal transformation to get to where you are today?
A: I was a member of the Union of Young Communists (UJC) and in the late
eighties I knew what was happening in Eastern Europe and the former
Soviet Union. That helped me open my eyes a little. Criticizing within
the ranks of the UJC, I had several penalties, arguments and problems.
Along with these disappointments and my departure from the UJC, I met
with a group of people who were in opposition in Pinar del Río. I
started to hear something different from them and it got me excited.
Later, I learned that the main coordinator of that group worked with
State Security. A friend had lent me her typewriter to write some papers
and then the political police called her in to interrogate her. When she
got there, on the other side of the desk—like one more official—was the
man who ran our opposition cell. Imagine the surprise!
Q: So is that what turned you around?
A: Not at all. In the end the balance was positive because in the almost
clandestine meetings of that group I met a college professor. His name
was Luis Enrique Estrella and he had been fired from his job because of
political problems. He was the person who first took me to the Parish of
Charity where I met Dagoberto Valdés. He was already running a Civic
Center group and that night they debated the subject of the Constitution.
Q: So the Civic Center was already in existence?
A: Yes, it had been founded a few months before, at the beginning of
1993. This initiative was just starting out and once I’d been there the
first time I couldn’t let it go. One day Dagoberto asked me to go to a
slum in Pinar del Río with him, to offer the simplest course there,
which was “We are people.” So I started out as a cheerleader. In the
Center for Civic Development we came to have computer classes, music,
groups of professionals, educators and computer scientists. Later I
joined the editorial board of the magazine Vitral [Stained Glass] until
it was taken over and in June 2008 along with other colleagues we
founded the magazine Convivencia.
Q: What economic model do you think Cuba needs?
A: I wouldn’t like to name a model, but there are issues that are
essential to get Cuba out of this situation in which we find ourselves
now. One of these issues is recognition of the right to economic
initiative, and the right to private property. We need a financial
system that circulates money, which is the “blood” of any economy. Today
in Cuba it’s not possible to develop this, given that all the banks are
state-owned, the companies are state-owned, and the citizens have no
right to invest.
As a third point, and here I turn more to the social, we need a tax
system that is efficient and fair, or as fair as possible. We know that
in economics, always with fairness, “we have to cut our suit to fit the
cloth,” because we still haven’t invented the Kingdom of God. So yes, we
must move towards fairness.
Q: That’s the economy. What about politics? What are your preferences?
A: I cannot give it a name, but a political model that is inclusive and
admits of dialog. I’m not talking about complacency, but real dialog. In
Cuba, where we have such a history of caudillos, sectarianism and
authoritarianism, those qualities I just listed would be very important.
Q: Are you optimistic? Do you think you will get to see the change?
A: Yes, and also I will see prosperity in Cuba. I think Cubans have the
ability to make this a prosperous nation in a short time.
Source: “I am optimistic I will see prosperity in Cuba” / 14ymedio,
Reinaldo Escobar | Translating Cuba –