November 28, 2010

ONLY COMMUNISM COULD HOLD THEM BACK:

As Fidel Castro and his Cuban revolution fade, is Cuba rising?: Seismic changes in the communist economy built by Fidel Castro are enriching some Cubans, scaring others, and sparking imaginations: Will the Caribbean gem shine again? (Sara Miller Llana, 11/27/10, CS Monitor)

Ever since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union and the decline of support from Cuba's communist brethren, steady tinkering with the economy has given way to the biggest economic upheaval the island has faced since the revolution – the layoff of half a million workers and a push toward private entrepreneurial activity.

The bottom line for Suarez, for example, was a pink slip and a sense of betrayal: "I never thought Cuba could do this, because the government always protected us."

But for Santana, being kicked off the government payroll has been dazzling. Told to start his own business, he has to pay rent; and if his scissors dull or clippers break, he shoulders the expense. But he's also pocketing the pesos he earns – the equivalent of $40 a month, more than three times his previous income.

"I am not a millionaire, but I am better off than others," says Santana. "[I have] the liberty to have my own schedule, prices, and services. I am the boss of myself. Everything that happens is my responsibility, and that is a good feeling."

When The Atlantic magazine journalist Jeffrey Goldberg asked Castro in September if the Cuban economic model was still worth exporting, Castro answered: "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore."


Folding in the Cuban Missile Crisis was JFK's one unforgivable act.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at November 28, 2010 8:37 AM
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