Camouflaged Capitalism / Ivan Garcia
Posted on April 29, 2013
Like Deng Xiaoping in China, General Raul Castro is using capitalism to
save Cuba's brand of socialism. It worked in China. The party and its
ideological stalwarts achieved results.
Not only did the market and capital investments transform China into the
second largest economy on the planet, creating spectacular economic
growth, the party also performed Olympian ideological acrobatics.
Sweeping away the resounding failures of Mao's Great Leap Forward and
the barbarities of the Cultural Revolution was a masterpiece of Chinese
Deng experienced the violence of the revolution personally. He was a
victim of the Cultural Revolution unleashed by Mao. Accused of being a
counter-revolutionary, he was stripped of power. He was confined in 1969
to a remote region and forced to work in a tractor factory in Jianxi
province. After Mao's death he was rehabilitated. Once in power he
gradually began China's transformation.
From a rural economy he created a superpower by fusing the tools of
capitalism with the supremacy and control of the Communist Party. His
first steps were gradual. At the time his Soviet comrades and Cuba's
Fidel Castro branded him a traitor to Marxism.
In the 1980s, while Fidel Castro dismissed the new Chinese government,
his brother Raul took note. The Chinese reforms began seven years before
Gorbachev's perestroika. They met with approval from the United States
which, astonished by the economic and social experiment, granted China
most-favored-nation trade status.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International accused China of violating human
rights, imprisoning political dissidents and carrying out 18,000 death
penalties a year.
During the uprising in Tienanmen Square in 1989, Deng Xiaoping did not
hesitate to order the army to fire on peaceful protesters calling for
democracy. Deng was clear; no one but no one was going to impede the
progress of the reforms.
Millions of people got out of poverty thanks to the economic
transformations. Today the Communist Party applauds people who make
money, as long as they remain silent, obedient and do not succumb to
Today China is a quiet empire – a country where laborers work for
seventy dollars a month for as many hours as an investor wants without
worries about losses from strikes or independent trade unions.
China is a cocktail of voracious capitalist ambition combined with the
rigid societal controls typical of an autocracy. The entire reform
process in China has been carefully studied by the accountants,
technocrats and economists advising the Cuban general.
Raul Castro has been in charge of the nation's economy since the
mid-1990s, but it was only after July 31, 2006, when his brother gave up
power due to illness, that the path was clear to introduce economic
changes on the island.
In Cuba the capitalist methods of a market economy are to be introduced
gradually. As in Deng's China, lip service will still be paid to a
planned economy, but the doors will be discreetly opened to capitalist
investors. The economic czar, Marion Murillo, is careful to camouflage
his future plans.
Among the first steps will be overtures to millionaire Cuban businessmen
living in the United States. Unlike China, however, Cuba is of no
particular interest to the world's power centers.
A limiting factor is that its market of eleven million impoverished
Cubans in not a seductive draw for foreign investment. Its complicated
investment laws also do not inspire confidence.
Until now the Castros have acted like swindlers, breaking it off with
capitalists and closing down their businesses when they feel like it.
General Raul promises to change the rules of the game.
The embargo is another big obstacle. No capitalist with any sense of
pride is going to invest money in Cuba if it means not being able to do
business with the world's superpower.
There is nothing more cowardly than a million dollars. To reverse the
situation, sensible people in the regime are trying to strengthen the
anti-embargo lobby in the United States.
They can count on the support of most country's in the world as well as
the proven inefficacy of the embargo. Economic pressures from Washington
have brought neither democracy nor free elections to the island.
Eleven administrations have passed through the White House during the
fifty-fours years of this autocratic government, having committed
themselves to democracy in Cuba.
If Raul Castro comes up with cosmetic political changes and creates
business opportunities for all Cubans — exiles and non-exiles — the next
American president could change policy.
At the end of the day, China is no more democratic than Cuba. And the
United States wants a neighbor that keeps illegal immigration under
control and combats drug trafficking and terrorism.
These are the trump cards the government of Castro II will proposed to
sit down and negotiate with the Americans. The current regime could be
innovative in creating democratic pockets.
For some time, the special services have been colonizing certain areas
of dissent. As an international image it doesn't hurt. And, above all,
to engage the rest of the nations of the continent, where the opposition
Raul Castro's intentions are to revive the economy so that people can to
live better without questioning who governs. His goal is to extend the
Castro regime beyond his death.
His guide has been China's reforms. His strategy is similar. That
capitalism saves a shipwrecked socialism.
Photo: Iberostar Ensenachos. Five star hotel with 440 rooms, located on
the north coast of the province of Villa Clara, in the center of the
island. Among the benefits of the environment are two pristine beaches,
the Ensenachos and The Mégano. Built on a virgin key in a the shape of a
horseshoe, the area is considered a Biosphere Reserve, for having
endemic species of flora and fauna and an aboriginal settlement.
25 April 2013