The future for Cuba

Thomas Wrath examines how Cuba opening up its economy will affect the state going forwards.

Tom Wrath
26th February 2021

Cuba stood as vehement opposition to the advent of hyper-individualistic neoliberalist economic policy in the early 1970s, but with new economic policy to allow private ownership of nearly all enterprise; is one of the last planned, socialist economies finally bowing to populist politics and modernity?

With the squeeze of both President Trump's restrictions on certain industries (imposed during his final days in office, and including sectors of the highly profitable tourism industry) and the ongoing global health situation, PM Miguel Marrero Cruz has sought to allow private ownership in an opening up of the economy, in order to stimulate both short and long term growth, and increase the vitality of trade centres.

Since the death of their revolutionary, hard-line socialist leader Fidel Castro, public perception towards the government from residents has changed, with an acceptance that a softening in socio-political identity and transition to so called ‘state capitalism’ is required to sustain relations with the globalised world. Despite his retirement in 2008, it is only since his death that Cuba has missed Castro as a figure of paternity, and the emerging reform is representative of a transition away from the Marxist-Leninist values of tight state control on trade, media, and suppression of internal dissent groups that came to dominate Castro’s 46-year rule. Such is his controversial nature, conversations of his legacy range from championing socialism and resisting American neo-imperialistic military policy during the Cold War, to his overseeing of human rights abuses and shrinking of the country’s economy. Whilst the unique dichotomies of power influencing world politics during the Cold War saw many view him as a fervent and charismatic opposer to ‘new world’ ideals, in truth his economic policy has grown outdated, and its unsurprising to see the Cuban government administering Capitalist tactics for economic growth that have already proved effective in other left-wing nations.

Under the presidency of the social anti-imperialist Evo Morales (2006-2019), exploitation of natural gas and mineral resources through nationalism of industry lifted 0.5 million Bolivians out of poverty and healed the socio-economic disparities caused by the 2005 Bolivian Political crisis. However, Cuba already existed in a state of absolute nationalism during the Castro era, thus the tactics employed by Morales are ineffective; instead, one must look to the Chinese, and their model of quasi-nationalism to identify PM Cruz’s ambition and visioning of Cuba.

Realising a model of communism allied with the economic ideals of western free-market capitalism was vital to China’s transition from regional to global superpower in the early-2000s, and their continued expansion into hegemonic, American spheres of dominance. Whilst political and social freedoms are still restricted, free speech muted and abhorrent human rights offences against minorities such as the Ughyrs ongoing, China’s national ownership and high investment in infrastructure has propelled its rapid economic growth and bilateral relationship with the occident west- although there are symptoms of a stagnation not dissimilar to those in Japan at the turn of the century.

Cuba do appear to be moving toward China’s model for growth, with most industries now equipped for an influx of private investors and potential loosening of the strict trade tariffs to allow greater bilateral trade, and a healthier relationship with the US. Bidens recent loosening of Trumps restrictions, resumption of remittances, and advocation of Obama-era democratic relations with Cuba present an opportunity for Cuba to ally themselves closer with US support to rebuild their fragile economy. Moreover, If Cruz can emulate Morales’ success in Bolivia through systemically changing the countries attitude to a new economic system using the Chinese model of state capitalism, there is no reason why Cuba cannot fruitfully integrate itself into the neoliberal, globalised world economy, without conceding the values of National-Socialism that the nation allies itself so tightly with.

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