Tag Archives: General Economic Performance

‘NOW IT WILL ONLY GET WORSE’: CUBA GRAPPLES WITH IMPACT OF UKRAINE WAR

May 17, 2022,  Marc Frank in Havana

Cuba Abstains re Russion Invasion of Ukraine

Russia’s war in Ukraine has created fresh problems for its Caribbean ally Cuba, already shaken by street protests and facing severe financial stress amid tighter US sanctions and a pandemic-induced collapse in tourism.

Cubans have contended with chronic shortages of food, medicine and other basic goods for more than two years, owing to the country’s heavy dependency on imports and lack of dollars to pay. Now, there are fuel shortages, more blackouts and less public transport as the island’s communist government battles to secure costly petrol and diesel supplies.

 “It’s the war. We’re already screwed and now it will only get worse,” said Antonio Fernández as he waited at a petrol station in the Playa area of Havana, the capital, to fill up his battered Chevrolet, which doubles as a taxi.

Russia was originally supposed to be guest of honour at this month’s international tourism fair in the beach resort of Varadero until the closing of western air space to punish Moscow over its invasion made flights to Cuba prohibitively expensive. Thousands of Russian tourist bookings were lost. Tourism minister Juan Carlos García Granda said Cuba was working with Russian operators to see what could be done. “We want to rescue that market, which was the main provider during the pandemic,” he said this week.

Tourism is a mainstay of Cuba’s economy, but just 575,000 visitors arrived in 2021, compared with more than 4mn before coronavirus struck. A quarter of last year’s arrivals were from Russia. Cuba had hoped for 2.5mn tourists this year but the loss of its biggest market makes that a tall order. Russian tourists queue at Juan Gualberto Gomez airport in Varadero. Tourism is a linchpin of Cuba’s economy but visitor numbers have slumped © Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images

The worsening situation has fuelled an immigration crisis at the US-Mexico border, with about 100,000 Cubans crossing since October last year. That number is already greater than the number that fled in 1994, the last surge of Cuban migration, and is approaching the 1981 peak. The US has accused Havana of using migration as a safety valve to limit discontent in Cuba.

On the island, many foreign suppliers and investment partners are demanding cash on delivery having not been paid for months. Imports are down 40 per cent since 2019. The director of one Cuban company said his business was “already suffering from cuts in our monthly electricity allocation and last month our diesel was reduced to almost nothing”.

The Ukraine war threatens to torpedo any recovery in Cuba following a 9 per cent fall in gross domestic product in 2020-21. The country suffers triple-digit inflation, caused in part by a devaluation of the peso and demand for scarce goods. Even after the devaluation, the dollar still fetches four times the official rate on the black market.

Various western businessmen say payment problems in Cuba have worsened since the Ukraine invasion as the government struggles with high commodity and shipping costs. Some European traders were being paid via a Russian bank, said one trader, adding that this had now stopped.

“Ministries are going to all joint ventures asking what the minimum is they need to stay open,” said one foreign investor, adding that his Cuban partner had contributed nothing for months.

Economy minister Alejandro Gil admitted recent events were “greatly affecting economic activities”, citing high fuel prices as an example.

Pavel Vidal, a former Cuban central bank economist now at Colombia’s Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali, said sanctions against Moscow were weakening Russia’s ability to support Havana and would “add more problems to a balance of payments that has been in crisis for several years”.

 Moscow has sent several cargoes of food and humanitarian aid this year and did so in 2021, although trade and investment remain only a fraction of the levels in Soviet times. Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Cuban counterpart Miguel Díaz-Canel agreed during a phone call in January to deepen “strategic co-operation”, but past promises of Russian investment on the island have been slow to materialise.

The Ukraine war has been diplomatically awkward for Cuba, with its government blaming the conflict on the US and Nato while also calling for the respect of international borders.  Paul Hare, former UK ambassador to Havana, said Cuba, like other Russia- aligned countries, had been embarrassed by the invasion, noting how the island’s government had wanted to deepen relations with the EU. “That perhaps explains why Cuba didn’t vote against the UN General Assembly on March 2 condemning the Russian invasion but abstained,” he added.

Hare, now a senior lecturer at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies, said the war had forced Cuba to pick the wrong side in what the EU considered a strategic threat. Relations with Brussels were already strained because of the draconian prison sentences imposed on hundreds of participants in last year’s anti-government protests.   “Cuba will be seen as complicit in Putin’s attempt to redraw the map of Europe and upend the world order,” he said.

Hal Klepak, a Canadian military historian who has written two books on Cuba, said the island’s armed forces remained heavily dependent on old Soviet equipment and Russian support. The first had been discredited in the Ukraine war and the second was now in doubt because of the invasion’s cost.

 Despite the problems, political change in Cuba 63 years after the revolution that brought the Castro brothers to power seems unlikely.  “Emigration serves as a safety valve for discontent,” said Bert Hoffman, a Cuba expert at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies. “As long as there are no signs of major elite splits then regime continuity is the most likely scenario.”

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POBREZA Y DESIGUALDAD EN CUBA

Ivette García González 31 enero 2022

Articulo Original: Pobreza y Desigualdad En Cuba

La pobreza y la desigualdad en Cuba no existen en el discurso oficial, aunque hace tiempo crecen exponencialmente. Al constituir un efecto no deseado de la Revolución, que tuvo como pilares fundamentales la justicia social, la equidad[1] y el desarrollo humano y social; se opta por el silencio.

Son problemáticas muy complejas para los países subdesarrollados, máxime en las condiciones del nuestro. Desde 2015 Naciones Unidas adoptó diecisiete Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible a cumplir en 2030. Ellos convocan a eliminar la pobreza, proteger el planeta y garantizar paz y prosperidad para las personas en esa fecha.

La pobreza, de acuerdo con la Dra. Mayra Espina «es un proceso social multidimensional de exclusiones, expropiaciones y carencias múltiples, de imposibilidad de acceder al disfrute de los bienes espirituales y materiales de los cuales dispone una sociedad y, con ello, de desplegar las capacidades humanas individuales y colectivas». De ahí su relación directa con la desigualdad y diversas formas de exclusión social, marginación y grados de vulnerabilidad. Todo ello se manifiesta tanto en sectores sociales específicos, como en los ámbitos laboral, familiar y local. Las consecuencias para la sociedad son múltiples.

Cuba tiene su Plan de Desarrollo al 2030 y un conjunto de documentos rectores de los que se infiere la voluntad política para tratar estos problemas. No obstante, desde antes del 2015 no mejoran los indicadores; por el contrario, se han incrementado el empobrecimiento, los sectores y localidades vulnerables y diversas formas de exclusión.

Hasta los años ochenta, en que contamos con la URSS, Cuba fue un país altamente equitativo. Según expertos, la pobreza como fenómeno social se erradicó. Y lo hizo hasta del lenguaje, en el cual fue sustituida por términos como: «grupos vulnerables», «en desventaja» o «población en riesgo».

El parteaguas, como en muchos otros fenómenos, fue la década del noventa. Entonces colapsó el modelo y sobrevino una profunda crisis, que provocó numerosos impactos económicos y sociales. Cuba no volvería a ser la misma.

Hacia los 2000 la sociedad era más heterogénea y los problemas más agudos. Durante esa primera década del nuevo siglo, el Centro de Investigaciones Psicológicas y Sociológicas (CIPS), identificó entre los problemas que afectaban la equidad a los siguientes: pobreza urbana, marginalización asociada a la migración interna y falta de viviendas, reproducción generacional de desventajas, su concentración a escala espacial, y particular incidencia en mujeres, ancianos, negros y mestizos.

A dicho repertorio se agregaron, de acuerdo con la Dra. María del Carmen Zabala, los relativos a la participación ciudadana; el acceso a un hábitat confortable, a servicios públicos y amparos; la distorsión en cantidad y calidad de la relación trabajo-ingresos y las desventajas para el consumo cultural.

La población urbana en situación de riesgo de pobreza pasó del 6.3 en 1988, al 14.7 en 1996 y al 20% en los 2000; la mayoría con ingresos cercanos a la línea de pobreza. La situación ya era más grave en las zonas rurales y en otras provincias, en particular las orientales.

Tales circunstancias empeoraron desde el 2008, cuando inició el proceso de Actualización del modelo económico y social cubano. Aunque se reconocen algunos impactos positivos, estos son mínimos comparados con los negativos, los cuales abarcan numerosos aspectos en lo económico, social, ambiental, político y cultural. Los ajustes que sobrevinieron entonces funcionaron como detonadores de desigualdades sociales, al profundizar las históricas y generar nuevas.

Vivíamos en una sociedad tan cerrada, que la simple eliminación de algunas prohibiciones absurdas —como la compraventa de casas y carros, alojarse en hoteles, viajar libremente al extranjero o adquirir un celular— aportó una imagen positiva. Sin embargo, a la par, se suprimieron medidas de beneficio social y se inició la tendencia a recortar drásticamente los gastos sociales.

Esas determinaciones afectaron profundamente la equidad e incrementaron la pobreza. Se acrecentó una inmensa brecha entre quienes pudieron aprovechar tales cambios y quienes no tenían ventaja alguna para hacerlo.[2] Un estudio reciente sobre el Centro Histórico de La Habana Vieja, muestra las anomalías y la estratificación a la que se llegó en esa localidad, resultado de la «evasión de las responsabilidades estatales con una población vulnerable».

No se dispone libremente de estadísticas actualizadas sobre pobreza en Cuba, de modo que los fenómenos asociados son difíciles de medir. No obstante, desde los años ochenta las ciencias sociales cubanas aportan diagnósticos y propuestas de políticas para atenderlos: generales, sectoriales, territoriales y de gestión local, familia, grupos sociales específicos como los jóvenes, personas de la tercera edad y mujeres; así como políticas de equidad.

En varios de los estudios realizados se revelan aspectos que tienen que ver directamente con el modelo de sociedad y constituyen las razones de que en el país se continúe reproduciendo la pobreza: lentitud y falta de integralidad y sincronización de las reformas, limitada descentralización y gestión local, escasa implementación de políticas focalizadas según sectores y regiones vulnerables, así como la persistencia del enfoque asistencialista en lugar del empoderamiento de la ciudadanía. 

En octubre del 2020, el destacado sociólogo cubano Juan Valdés Paz argumentó que en este escenario de reformas nos movemos «hacia un mayor patrón de desigualdad (…) tenemos cada vez más pobres». Según el Coeficiente Gini —herramienta analítica empleada para medir la desigualdad en los ingresos— hemos remontado desde un 0.22-0.25 en 1986, a más del 0.40 en 2019, y para el 2025 se preveía que llegara a no menos de 0.45. No obstante, desde fines del año pasado, algunos expertos estiman que ese valor ya fue superado.

Los ritmos, vaivenes y contenidos de las reformas han sido desfavorables para la ciudadanía y empeoraron desde el 2015. Junto a ello, la no implementación de políticas dirigidas a combatir la pobreza nos hicieron llegar al escenario 2020-2021 en condiciones de crisis y alta vulnerabilidad, como fundamentó recientemente la Dra. Alina López.

Trabajar por la erradicación de la pobreza en Cuba implica llegar a la raíz de los problemas, modificar las relaciones sociales promoviendo democracia desde la economía, con una real participación ciudadana en todos los procesos. Eso incluye transparentar y revisar los gastos del enorme aparato burocrático estatal, partidista, de las organizaciones que sirven al gobierno y de las fuerzas represivas; todos con estructuras verticales que pagamos los ciudadanos.

Hoy los indicadores económicos y sociales van cuesta abajo, mientras la opacidad habitual del gobierno no permite a la ciudadanía estar debidamente informada. Pocos en Cuba conocieron las causas reales del colapso socialista europeo. Otros interpretaron por nosotros y transmitieron sus conclusiones, así, las mayorías no pudieron prever el futuro que nos esperaba. Ya estamos en él.

No asumir tales anomalías, ocultarlas; descubrirlas en visitas gubernamentales y maquillarlas con programas emergentes de un populismo rampante, al calor de acontecimientos políticos indeseados por el gobierno; dilata soluciones verdaderamente sostenibles. Los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible 2030 de la ONU pretenden «no dejar a nadie atrás»; en Cuba cada día dejamos más personas afuera y detrás.

 Para contactar a la autora: ivettegarciagonzalez@gmail.com

***

[1] Durante mucho tiempo en Cuba una de las principales distorsiones estuvo en la asunción de la equidad como igualdad, y en política el conocido «igualitarismo», lo que también provocó numerosos efectos negativos que llegan hasta hoy.

[2] Esta particular coyuntura entre el 2008 y el 2015 aproximadamente, se examinará en textos posteriores como parte del proyecto de La Joven Cuba sobre desigualdades, pobreza y sectores vulnerables.

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LA ECONOMÍA CUBANA: ENTRE LA CONFUSIÓN Y EL SIN SENTIDO

Mauricio De Miranda Parrondo, 20 diciembre 2021

La economía cubana: entre la confusión y el sin sentido

A partir de lo visto en el recién concluido III Pleno del Comité Central del Partido Comunista de Cuba (PCC), resulta claro que la dirigencia política del país insiste en conducir la economía cubana con criterios ideológicos voluntaristas que demuestran su confusión respecto a las leyes objetivas de la economía y el sin sentido que genera despreciar y vulnerar esas leyes.

Hemos pasado por esto varias veces y los resultados han sido siempre los mismos: el fracaso. ¿Cuál es el objetivo de insistir en lo que ya se ha demostrado que no funciona? Pareciera que a falta de creatividad y sentido común, insisten en revitalizar círculos viciosos que han afectado severamente el desempeño de la economía nacional desde los años sesenta del pasado siglo hasta hoy.

El problema de la inflación

La inflación es el aumento de precios de los bienes y servicios que componen la «canasta» del «consumidor promedio» de un país, y se mide como un índice de precios respecto a un período base. Lo usual es que se calcule mensualmente, como valor acumulado del año, y también interanual respecto al mismo período del año precedente.

En general, los economistas preferimos que se creen las condiciones para que los precios mantengan una relativa estabilidad, usando los recursos de las políticas monetaria y fiscal. En ocasiones, un incremento «moderado» de los precios puede estimular a los productores a producir más para aprovechar ese diferencial. Pero la historia económica indica que la inflación «galopante» o la hiperinflación destruyen la capacidad adquisitiva de la población y el tejido productivo, pues deterioran la demanda y, en consecuencia, poseen un efecto recesivo.

La teoría económica demuestra que cuando se establece un precio por vía administrativa, por debajo del que sugiere el equilibrio entre la oferta y la demanda, la oferta desaparece y se produce escasez de bienes. Entonces la inflación no se manifiesta en el mercado formal sino en el informal, hacia el cual se canalizan los bienes escasos a precios superiores.

Esa es precisamente la secuela que tienen los «topes» de precios en la actualidad, y también el efecto que tuvieron los precios administrados estatalmente en los años sesenta, cuando no se tenían en cuenta los costos de producción ni las condiciones del mercado.

Durante muchos años no se calculó la inflación en Cuba. En la crisis de los noventa se evidenció que aunque los precios oficiales no fueron aumentados, los productos que se vendían por esa vía representaban una fracción baja y decreciente de las necesidades de subsistencia de la población; sin embargo, en los mercados informales los precios siguieron un curso que estuvo determinado por el tipo de cambio informal del dólar con el peso cubano. Eso está volviendo a ocurrir, pero no solo en los mercados informales sino también en aquellos en los que se desarrollan actividades económicas no estatales.

El primer secretario del Comité Central abogó por hacer un llamado a los empresarios privados y cooperativos a «renunciar a parte de las ganancias sin caer en pérdidas» para bajar los precios, y de nuevo convocó «al pueblo», esta vez a consumar un «control popular» sobre los precios.

¿Realmente cree Díaz-Canel que de esa forma se combate la inflación? No, así se oprime una vez más al productor y el resultado será la caída de la producción, que es todo lo contrario de lo que se necesita.

Por su parte, Alejandro Gil, ministro de Economía y Planificación, hizo referencia en el Pleno partidista al tema de la inflación, emplazando a combatir a «las personas inescrupulosas que aprovechándose del escenario de escasez que está viviendo el país, intentan vivir de eso y hacerse ricos a costa de las necesidades del pueblo y no lo podemos permitir». A lo anterior añadió que «la fortaleza del socialismo que nos da y la autoridad moral para enfrentar eso lo tenemos que tener siempre presente y es el combate de este momento».

Haciendo gala de la escasa autocrítica a la que la dirigencia cubana nos tiene acostumbrados, el ministro insistió en que el problema no era el «Ordenamiento». No se ha admitido que la llamada «Tarea Ordenamiento» se realizó a destiempo, dejando pasar muchas oportunidades, en el peor momento posible y cuando existían muy pocas posibilidades de que la oferta de bienes y servicios reaccionara a la recesión.

Tampoco reconoció que el tipo de cambio utilizado no tuvo asidero alguno con la realidad y resultó de colocar un tipo de cambio «deseado» en lugar de tener en cuenta las condiciones del mercado cambiario. La economía no puede ser «forzada» a aceptar el tipo de cambio que los gobernantes consideran conveniente establecer.

Cuando se adoptan medidas como las tomadas por el gobierno, el mercado les recuerda que siempre existe la válvula de la informalidad, y eso es lo que está pasando en la economía. Quienes diseñaron el proceso y quienes lo aceptaron —que son miembros del aparato institucional del Partido, el Gobierno y la Asamblea Nacional—, pretendieron que los mercados podían ser dominados por sus voluntades; y está más que demostrado que eso no es posible.

La inflación actual

Una explicación sencilla de la teoría cuantitativa del dinero, afirma que el equilibrio monetario en un mercado existe cuando la oferta monetaria es igual al nivel de precios multiplicado por el nivel de transacciones (lo cual se traduce en el nivel de ingreso o del producto de una sociedad). Si se incrementa la oferta monetaria en condiciones de estancamiento económico, o incluso de recesión, no existe otra cosa que pueda pasar que no sea el incremento de los precios. Eso es lo que ocurrió en Cuba.

Habría resultado similar de producirse el reajuste de salarios y pensiones antes, pero las circunstancias serían otras si previo a ese proceso se hubiera estimulado la producción, lo que implicaba desatar los nudos que frenan el desarrollo de las fuerzas productivas en el país. Eso debió ser lo primero, y había que hacerlo mucho tiempo antes. El escenario de la crisis agravada por la pandemia fue el peor de los momentos posibles.

No obstante, hasta el momento nadie ha respondido por esos errores. No lo han hecho las direcciones del Partido elegidas en el 6to, 7mo y 8vo congresos; ni los gobiernos existentes desde entonces. Y ellos son responsables máximos de tales fallas, conjuntamente con los diputados a la Asamblea Nacional en las diversas legislaturas, por permitirlas sin cuestionamientos.

La moral y la ética que algunos dirigentes exigen al pueblo, debería llevarlos a asumir sus responsabilidades políticas por estos yerros. Al mismo tiempo, la inteligencia y el sentido común debiera conducirlos a análisis objetivos y a la adopción de medidas necesarias y urgentes, en lugar de continuar insistiendo en un enfoque ideológico que no conduce a otro lugar que no sea a un callejón sin salida.

No dudo que algunos productores, en su afán de lucro, «aprovechen» las condiciones del mercado escuálido y desabastecido de Cuba para obtener ganancias extraordinarias. Pero estoy seguro de que la mayoría simplemente está reaccionando a la realidad de sus condiciones objetivas.

El ministro al menos reconocía que determinados productores requerían insumos en divisas y debían comprarlas en el mercado informal a un precio varias veces el oficial —que está lejos de las condiciones del mercado— por lo cual eso se traslada a los precios. ¡Y es lógico que así sea! Ello no lo hace inmoral ni muestra una ética expoliadora, sino es el resultado de la acción objetiva de las leyes de la economía.

Adicionalmente, el gobierno sigue sin reconocer el daño moral causado a su imagen y a la del PCC con el establecimiento y posterior expansión de las tiendas en monedas libremente convertibles (MLC). Con esta medida se ha apelado al mismo expediente, segregacionista y rentista, que caracterizó el surgimiento del mercado en las llamadas shopping de los años noventa. Se apela a una dolarización de los costos de los consumidores y los productores privados sin que se dolaricen sus ingresos.

La inflación actual en Cuba es hija de la escasez estructural en los mercados de bienes y servicios. El sector productivo no es capaz de reaccionar a las necesidades de la demanda por múltiples factores. Entre ellos cabe mencionar las restricciones persistentes al desarrollo de negocios privados en una serie de sectores; las limitaciones del sector agropecuario en el acceso a los mercados; la obsolescencia tecnológica de la mayor parte de las industrias; los precios de monopolio de muchos servicios, entre ellos los tecnológicos y de telecomunicaciones; las restricciones al desarrollo de dichos servicios mediante un clima de competencia; el subdesarrollo de los sistemas de transportes, comunicaciones e infraestructura; pero sobre todo, la escasa capacidad de ahorro e inversión de la economía doméstica.

Eliminar la dolarización o dolarizar/euroizar toda la economía

Soy partidario de que Cuba conserve su moneda nacional. El establecimiento del peso en 1914, aunque atado al curso del dólar, fue una muestra de soberanía. Sin embargo, en las actuales condiciones el peso cubano carece de soberanía en todas las transacciones dentro del territorio nacional, debido a la decisión del gobierno de captar divisas frescas mediante tiendas en las que solo se venden productos en MLC.

Eso ha llevado incluso al restablecimiento de relaciones inter-empresariales que se denominan en moneda extranjera. Esta simple decisión es factor decisivo para la depreciación de la moneda cubana en el mercado doméstico, y debilita la tan cacareada soberanía que el gobierno dice defender.

Resulta inmoral y éticamente cuestionable que la sociedad cubana deba depender de transferencias desde el exterior para satisfacer necesidades elementales de la vida cotidiana. El carácter rentista del Estado, acostumbrado a exprimir por diversos mecanismos extractivos, se traslada a la sociedad en su conjunto y ello debilita el emprendimiento y la productividad.

No es posible continuar con la situación actual, que es una reedición de la que existía a inicios de los noventa. ¿Qué hacer? O toda la economía se expresa en pesos cubanos, a una tasa que se corresponda con las condiciones del mercado, o reconocemos de una vez y por todas que la soberanía nacional se ha deteriorado al punto de requerir que nuestra moneda deje de ser la que funcione en la economía del país y reemplazarla por otra que, debido a las circunstancias de enfrentamiento persistente con el vecino del Norte, podría ser el euro.

Para ello resultaría necesario un acuerdo con la Unión Europea, tal como han hecho Montenegro y Kosovo. Pero un acuerdo implicaría no solo una disciplina monetaria y fiscal, sino también una serie de condicionamientos políticos.

Yo preferiría defender la moneda nacional, no por prurito nacionalista o patriotero, sino porque contar con la soberanía monetaria permite que el tipo de cambio sirva de válvula de escape a los desequilibrios internacionales. Si la economía mantiene su vocación deudora respecto al mundo, la devaluación reflejará esa realidad, pero, si por el contrario, fuéramos capaces de crear condiciones para que la inmensa iniciativa empresarial y capacidad de emprendimiento de los cubanos, aun reprimidas, florezcan en condiciones de libertad —con regulación pero sin control—, podríamos prosperar económicamente, lo cual debe traducirse también en bienestar social.

Control popular sobre la gestión del gobierno, no sobre los precios

No es posible esperar un cambio fundamental hacia la prosperidad en las condiciones actuales de Cuba si no se democratiza nuestra sociedad. A estas alturas es imposible desligar las transformaciones estructurales de la economía sin realizar modificaciones estructurales en las instituciones políticas que apunten a una democratización real.

Los principales obstáculos frente a esas necesidades son: la persistencia del dominio político de un partido único, no democrático en su vida interna, que controla a toda la sociedad siendo minoritario y que en su gestión ha estado lejos de constituir una verdadera vanguardia de la sociedad; la exclusión de la crítica y la oposición a la gestión del gobierno, tildada de mercenaria cuando simplemente es resultado de los sucesivos yerros de una dirigencia que desconoce las realidades objetivas de la vida contemporánea y se niega a rendir cuentas ante la sociedad, como debería; un sistema institucional que no responde a las necesidades y demandas de la sociedad aunque insistan en no reconocerlo.

Esa realidad puede ser cambiada desde el poder o desde la sociedad, o desde ambos. Sin embargo, para empezar, valdría la pena que las autoridades abandonen su confusión y el sin sentido de sus medidas.

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CUBAN ECONOMY IN 2022

It is essential to deepen the reforms where reality has shown that what has been done is not enough. Delaying that deepening is not healthy, as we know.

Juan Triana Cordoví

ON CUBA Newws, December 29 2021

Original Article: Cuban Economy in 2022

The good news that the decline in the national economy has stopped thanks to the good performance of the second and third quarters of this year, is doubly good because in general and due to the seasonal nature of our economy the first and the last quarter of each year are the busiest. So in 2021, that performance has changed.

It is also good news that a growth of 4% is planned for 2022, something that will require a significant effort if we take into account that the recovery conditions of the international economy are still far from reaching the years preceding COVID-19; that world inflation, and especially in the United States, seems to be turning into a big headache; and that world trade will continue to suffer from excessively expensive freight, a shortage of containers and high prices for them; foreign investment will continue to have a weak recovery and tourism flows on a world level will still be far from what they were three years ago.

Global inflows of FDI, forecast for 2021-2022. UNCTAD

Macroeconomic stability

Growth is much more than a goal, a slogan or an exhortation, and having done a good planning exercise is not enough. It is necessary to achieve a minimum of macroeconomic stability that reduces uncertainty for all economic agents, that guarantees that the rules of the game will be followed, that discretion will have adequate limits, that the adjustment will produce the necessary changes at the microeconomic level to transform the business system, clean it of inefficient enterprises — because not all those that are in losses are — and that the allocation of resources is guided by efficiency criteria. Efficiency and productivity must be rewarded, and the costs of this adjustment must be cushioned with adequate policies. Condemning efficient enterprises to losses is not the best decision in a country that needs to purge its production system.

Inflation, what to do?

Much has been written about inflation in Cuba this year. Today it is the factor that generates more instability, uncertainty, a reduction in the purchasing power of “reorganized” wages and, logically, social unrest. At least we economists know that speculation is not its cause, in the same way that we know that appealing to the good faith of sellers will not solve, even momentarily, this scourge.

Three exchange rates instead of one, as the design promised, the reincarnation of the CUC in the freely convertible currencies whose access is more restrictive and a passive monetary policy are among its monetary causes. If reality surpassed the design, then the design must be adapted to this new reality.

The other cause is historical, secular and structural, the insufficient supply that has accompanied us since the early 1960s, due to the weak production system and restrictions to import, especially as of the 1990s. Generating a significant increase in supply keeping in mind a speedy recovery of the production system does not seem achievable (500 state companies in losses, and 67% of cooperatives in an “unfavorable” situation indicate the opposite). Production, even in those economies that function with high dynamism, lags behind in relation to demand, it is less elastic in the face of a variation in income. It will not be there where in the short term prices can be dealt with. Improperly regulating them produces worse effects, it has also been proven. The other component of the supply remains, imports, also limited in the state sector by the availability of foreign exchange. But there are reservations and they involve sharing the consumer market and encouraging non-state agents — national and non-national — to have a greater participation and share the risks.

Consolidating and deepening the reforms

In the annual seminar of the Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy, my colleague Antonio Romero synthesized the characteristics of the environment we will have for 2022, taking into account the performance of recent years:

  1. Deep drop in global economic activity in 2020. Record for some regions/countries.
  2. Strong recovery process since late 2020/early 2021 in most regions/countries.
  3. The per capita income levels reached in December 2019 will not be exceeded until 2023.
  4. Asymmetric recovery, and with great risks/uncertainties:
  5. a) Recurrence of outbreaks/peaks of the pandemic
  6. b) High and rising inflation for some sectors/markets
  7. c) Dangers of the process of reducing monetary stimuli (liquidity) by the main central banks
  8.  Tensions in the international energy market
  9.  Problems with some supply chains/logistics internationally
  10. Growing conflict between major global actors (USA, China, EU and Russia).

Inflation in the United States and Mr. Biden’s “forgetting” his pre-election promises are the other two factors that complicate the national situation.

And at the same time he pointed out the opportunities that this same evolution offered to our country:

  1. -Increase in demand for goods and services in foreign partners,
  2. -Increase in the price of some basic export products (sugar and nickel) and
  3. -Revaluation of the health industry (especially the strategic importance of vaccines).

Sugar prices have gone up by 38% from January to October 2021. It is true that our restriction is on production. Save the sugarcane industry! The phrase deserves more than one book. Saving the sugar industry is not recovering it, it is making it new, from the furrow to the shipping terminal. From 2016 to 2020, this industry received investments of 1.035 billion dollars, less than the trade sector (1.563 billion and not to mention 15.541 billion in the real estate sector). Year after year we witness a new unfulfilled plan to recover the sugar industry, hopefully, this time it will be different.

Nickel prices also offer an opportunity (37% increase in their prices from January to October) and world demand seems to maintain a certain dynamism. Our limit is once again in the productive capacity. Mining was allocated 1.413 billion in the same period and not everything was for nickel mining.

Undoubtedly the greatest opportunity could be in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. Despite the complicit silence of some international institutions regarding Cuban vaccines, it is indisputable that today it is our greatest strength in the industrial sector.

The recovery of tourist flows on a global scale will depend on the performance of the pandemic, which has once again shown its face in the omicron variant and complicates our source markets again.

World foreign investment flows will not reach the dynamics of before 2019. Competing for scarce flows with other markets is a difficult task. It is true that something has been announced in relation to FDI, but it seems that time does not count and the necessary reform of requirements and procedures did not arrive in 2021. It is not enough to recognize that “the little progress is not attributable only to the difficulties generated by the blockade and, in the last two years, by the international crisis derived from the COVID-19 pandemic, but also internal factors.” And if we know which ones, then why don’t we just eliminate them?

Because there are external factors on which there is no way to influence to achieve favorable changes to our economy, because there are structural failures that will not be resolved in the short term; consolidating the reforms will be decisive. It is a difficult exercise that requires many means, from the timely and adequate coordination of actions and organizations to the competence of the people who work in it; also agreeing to pay unavoidable costs until the resizing of the state business sector is promoted, not only in terms of its size, but also in the way it operates in the economy. This exhortation to achieve greater autonomy must be made really effective. And also that other that demands a greater relationship with the private and cooperative business sector. More than a thousand SMEs in three months, in the worst conditions in which an enterprise can be born, is enough to understand how dynamic this sector can be. More effective support, better incentives — especially tax incentives —, less prejudice and greater spaces for action are still necessary.

Today there are more than seven hundred local development projects. Local governments should understand that having more local development projects and promoting a greater number of small and medium-sized enterprises is decisive for the prosperity of their municipalities. Thinking of the local as the small, as the complementary, does not seem to be the best option. “The local is not the utopia of a development from the small, but the construction of capacities from the territory to promote sustainable development at the municipal, regional, national and international level”1 It is necessary to take a look at the curb of the well and look from there inward and outward.

It is essential to deepen the reforms where reality has shown that what has been done is not enough. Delaying that deepening is not healthy, as we know.

If a 4% growth is achieved, we will still be very far from the growth dynamics we need, far even from what was achieved in a year like 2019 and we all know that even in that year our production was not able to adequately satisfy that part of the demand that depended on it. It will be good to grow and it will be better if all Cubans manage to perceive it.


Note:

1 Carrizo Luis and Gallicchio Enrique (2006): “Desarrollo local y gobernanza. Enfoques transdisciplinarios. Investigación y políticas para el desarrollo en América Latina,” Uruguay, Latin American Center for Human Economy, CLAEH.

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INFORME DE RENDICIÓN DE CUENTA DEL PRIMER MINISTRO DE LA REPÚBLICA DE CUBA A LA ASAMBLEA NACIONAL DEL PODER POPULAR

Diciembre de 2021

…………………………………

…………………………………

CONCLUSIONES

El Programa Nacional de Desarrollo Económico y Social
2030, los Lineamientos de la Política Económica y Social del
Partido y la Revolución, y la Estrategia de Desarrollo
Económico Social del país, constituyen las herramientas
fundamentales para la conducción de la economía y la
sociedad, y referentes claves para el diseño e
implementación de políticas y acciones nacionales y locales.
Entre ellos se establece una unidad indivisible, con
eslabones que se complementan, para una conducción más
integrada, articulada y sostenible del desarrollo.
Todos los lineamientos tienen algún grado de relación
(directa e indirecta) con los proyectos de los
macroprogramas. Muchos de ellos se ven reflejados en más
de un macroprograma, demostrando el carácter integrador y
multidimensional del sistema de trabajo del gobierno.
Al mismo tiempo, se identifican temáticas en los
lineamientos que son abordadas en varios proyectos, reflejo
de la importancia estratégica que revisten y la prioridad que
deben tener para alcanzar los objetivos propuestos en el
Programa Nacional de Desarrollo Económico y Social 2030.


El sistema de trabajo diseñado para su implementación a
través de macroprogramas, programas y proyectos
constituye el mecanismo de gobierno a emplear para la
implementación y evaluación de los lineamientos de la
Política Económica y Social del Partido y la Revolución para
el período 2021-2026 y las medidas contenidas en la
Estrategia de Desarrollo Económico Social.
Se refuerza la importancia del método empleado para la
conducción y evaluación del cumplimiento del Programa
Nacional de Desarrollo Económico y Social 2030, el que
supone una modificación significativa en la manera de
dirigir, organizar y gestionar el desarrollo de la economía y
la sociedad, lográndose un mayor rigor, integralidad e
intersectorialidad de acciones, desde la concepción del
proyecto, su implementación, evaluación, rendición de
cuenta y la participación y alianzas entre todos los actores.
Hasta aquí he abordado en apretada síntesis un resumen
de la rendición de cuenta de mi gestión como Primer
Ministro, consciente de que existen otros temas y
dificultades en las que también estamos trabajando;
tenemos identificadas las insuficiencias que nos
corresponde solucionar, con objetivos, metas e indicadores,
así como las prioridades antes mencionadas

Finalmente, quiero agradecer al General de Ejército Raúl
Castro Ruz, al Presidente de la República Miguel Díaz-
Canel Bermúdez, al Presidente de la Asamblea Nacional
Esteban Lazo Hernández, al Consejo de Ministros, a los
diputados, y al pueblo en general, la confianza y el apoyo
que nos brindan.  Es nuestro compromiso de seguir en el
combate, hasta la Victoria Siempre,

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CUBA SEES SLOW ECONOMIC RECOVERY AT 4% IN 2022 – OFFICIAL

By Marc Frank

Reuters, December 12, 2021

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

HAVANA, Dec 12 (Reuters) – A cash short and crippled Cuban economy will grow 4% next year as the Communist-run country struggles to recover from an economic crisis, according to a report by the prime minister posted over the weekend.

Prime Minister Manuel Marrero’s annual report said the economy began a slow recovery of around 2% this year after declining 10.9% in 2020 and stagnating for several years before that.

New U.S. sanctions on top of the decades-old trade embargo and the coronavirus pandemic cost the import-dependent nation at least $4 billion in revenues over the last two years, according to the government.

The shortfall led to a 40% decline in imports and has hobbled the government’s ability to provide Cubans with food, medicine, consumer goods and inputs for industry and agriculture. Cuba has defaulted on some payments to its creditors and suppliers.

The government’s decision to devalue the peso for the first time since Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution combined with increased dollarization of the economy have sparked triple-digit inflation estimated by local economists at around 500% this year.

The goal of 4% growth could indicate that Cuba will still see shortages of critical goods and have continued difficulty paying creditors, said a western businessman in Cuba with years of experience in the market.

The government is preparing measures to tame inflation and strengthen the peso, Marrero said. The peso is trading for around 70 to a dollar on the informal market versus the official rate of 24 pesos.

“A set of measures must be adopted with a view to stopping the inflationary spiral,” Marrero said in his report, without stating what they might be.

Marrero credited a vaccination campaign that has reached 80% of the country’s population for clearing the way for a nascent recovery next year.

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THE MAGNITUDE OF THE ECONOMIC CRISIS IN CUBA AND THE CAUSES OF THE RECENT PROTESTS

Carmelo Mesa-Lago
Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Economics and Latin American Studies, University of Pittsburgh

Columbia Law School,  Horizonte Cubano / Cuban Horizon, September 10, 2021

Original Complete Article: Economic Crisis in Cuba

Cuba faces the worst economic crisis and public protests since the 1990s. This essay: 1) analyzes the multiple causes of the crisis and protests, 2) examines the factors that have facilitated the social unrest, and 3) measures the magnitude of the crisis using various socio-economic indicators.

Causes of the Crisis and Protests

Extremists reduce the causes of the crisis to a single culprit: for the Cuban government, it is the U.S. embargo (known in Cuba as the “blockade”). For the most radical exiles in Miami, only the communist system is to blame. In reality there are multiple causes, summarized below (Mesa-Lago and Svejnar, 2020).

  1. The inefficient centrally planned economic system and the deep state dominance over the market and non-state property, which has failed throughout the world including in Cuba. Raúl Castro attempted market-oriented structural reforms, but they happened very slowly and were plagued with obstacles, disincentives, taxes and policy zig zags, so they had no tangible effects on the economy. The government has rejected the successful Sino-Vietnamese “market socialism” model. President Miguel Díaz-Canel supports continuity, but at the beginning of 2021 he decreed the monetary-exchange unification. Although necessary, it was begun at the worst economic moment. So far, it has only generated adverse effects.
     
  2. The serious economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela has radically reduced its financial relationship with Cuba: a 24% decrease in purchasing Cuban professional services (the island’s primary source of foreign-currency revenue); a 62% reduction in oil shipments with favorable terms (which covered 50% of Cuban needs); and an $8 billion drop in direct investment (Mesa-Lago and Vidal, 2019). This relationship reached its peak in 2012-2013 at US $ 16,017 million and decreased by half by 2018. In relation to GDP, it contracted from 22% to 8% and the decrease continued in 2019-2020. 
     
  3. The Cuban economy has been unable to finance its imports with its own exports due to the drop in domestic production, which makes it unsustainable. The total value of Cuban exports contracted by 65% in 1989-2019, while imports increased as did the merchandise-trade deficit. For example, Cuba’s economic relationship with China reached its zenith in 2015-2016, when it became Cuba’s primary trading partner, briefly surpassing Venezuela. Their trade relationship represented 17% and 20%, respectively, but decreased by 36% from 2015-2019 (14% of trade). The main reason was a negative trade balance—Cuba exports much less than it imports from China, representing a deficit of US $2 billion in 2015, leading China to reduce its exports to Cuba by almost half (ONEI, 2016 to 2020).
     
  4. The tough measures imposed by Donald Trump’s administration, which reversed President Barack Obama’s process of rapprochement with Cuba and reinforced the embargo, have paralyzed investment. This includes the application of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which had been suspended every six months by previous presidents (including Trump) and that allows the suing of foreign companies that have “trafficked” with assets confiscated by the Cuban government. Other measures were the restriction of flights to Cuba and the banning all cruises; the imposition of a limit on remittances and prohibiting Western Union from sending remittances to a Cuban agency run by the military; the tightening of sanctions on international banks that do business with Cuba; and the reinstatement of the country on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

    Thus far President Biden has not lifted those sanctions. Obama’s policy of rapprochement with Cuba, which I supported, resulted in numerous concessions from the U.S. without Cuba yielding one iota. On the contrary, the Cuban leadership continued to criticize the U.S. government for maintaining the embargo that Obama did not have the authority to eliminate, since the Republicans had a majority in both houses (Mesa-Lago, 2015).
     
  5. The pandemic is now at its highest number of cases and deaths despite inoculating the population with two vaccines produced in Cuba (the efficacy of neither has been proven). COVID-19 has virtually eliminated all international tourism. The government requires travelers to pay in advance for an “isolation package” to stay in hotels during a quarantine period.

    The pandemic has also prevented the travel of so-called “mules,” people who previously traveled back and forth carrying remittances, food, and other goods for relatives or for informal sale in Cuba. The combination of Trump’s measures and COVID-19 has led to the departure of Spanish tourism companies such as Meliá and Bankia.
     
  6. The implementation, at the beginning of 2021, of the “currency and exchange rate unification” which, although in the long term should yield positive results, in the short term has aggravated many of the previous problems, such as a huge increase in inflation, pressure to increase unemployment, a notable rise in the price of goods, and a severe shortage of food and medicine, which we describe in more detail below.
    CONTINUE READING
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WHY CUBANS PROTESTED ON JULY 11. Is this the beginning of the end of fear in Cuba?

Samuel Farber July 27, 2021

Original Article

he street demonstrations that broke out all over Cuba on July 11 are an unprecedented event in the more than 60 years since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. But why now? This essay explores the historic, economic and political factors that help to clarify the causes of Cuba’s July 11, considers the role of the United States, and briefly reflects on Cuba’s future.

On Sunday, July 11, Cuba erupted in street protests. Unlike the major street protest that took place in 1994 and was limited to the Malecón, the long multi-lane Havana road facing the Gulf of Mexico, the July 11 outbreak of protest was national in scope. There were protests in many towns and cities, including Santiago de Cuba in the east, Trinidad in the center of the island, as well as Havana in the west. The growing access to social media in the island played an important role in the rapid spread of the protests; no wonder the government immediately suspended access to certain social media sites and brought all telephone calls from abroad to a halt. 

The street presence and participation of Black women and men was notable everywhere. This should not be surprising since Black Cubans are far less likely to receive hard currency remittances from abroad even though over 50% of the population receive some degree of financial support through that channel. These remittances have become the key to survival in Cuba, particularly in light of the ever-diminishing number of goods available in the peso-denominated subsidized ration book. Cuban Blacks have also been the victims of institutional racism in the growing tourist industry where ​“front line” visible jobs are mostly reserved for conventionally attractive white and light skinned women and men. 

The demonstrators did not endorse or support any political program or ideology, aside from the general demand for political freedom. The official Cuban press claims that the demonstrations were organized from abroad by right-wing Cubans. But none of the demands associated with the Cuban right-wing were echoed by the demonstrators, like the support for Trump often heard in South Florida and among some dissident circles in Cuba. And no one called for ​“humanitarian intervention” espoused by Plattistas (Platt Amendment, approved by Congress in 1901and abolished in 1934, gave the United States the right to militarily intervene in Cuba), such as biologist Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, himself a victim of government repression for his independent ecological activism. The demonstrators did speak about the scarcity of food, medicine and essential consumer items, repudiated President Díaz-Canel as singao—a phrase that in Cuba translates as ​“fucked” but means a wicked, evil person, and chanted patria y vida (fatherland and life). ​“Patria y Vida” is the title of a very popular and highly polished rap song by a group of Cuban Black rappers (available on YouTube.) I have seen and heard the song more than a dozen times to enjoy it as well as to search for its explicit and implied meanings including in its silences and ambiguities.

“Patria y Vida” counterposes itself to the old Cuban government slogan of ​“Patria o Muerte” (“Fatherland or Death”). While that slogan may have made sense in the 1960s when Cuba was faced with actual invasions, it borders on the obscene when voiced by second generation bureaucrats. It is certainly high time that the regime’s macho cult of violence and death be challenged, and this song does it very well.

But what does it mean to implicitly repudiate the year 1959, the first year of the successful revolution, as the song does? There was no Soviet style system in Cuba at the time and the year 1959 is not equivalent to the Castro brothers. Many people of a wide variety of political beliefs fought and died to bring about the revolution that overthrew the Batista dictatorship. The song does express many important democratic sentiments against the present Cuban dictatorship, but it is unfortunately silent about the desirable alternative, which leaves room for the worst right-wing, pro-Trump elements in South Florida to rally behind it as if it was theirs. 

True to form, President Díaz-Canel called on the ​“revolutionaries” to be ready for combat and go out and reclaim the streets away from the demonstrators. In fact, it was the uniformed police, Seguridad del Estado (the secret police), and Boinas Negras (black berets, the special forces) that responded with tear gas, beatings and hundreds of arrests, including several leftist critics of the government. According to a July 21 Reuters report, the authorities had confirmed that they had started the trials of the demonstrators accused of a variety of charges, but denied it according to another press report on July 25. These are summary trials without the benefit of defense counsel, a format generally used for minor violations in Cuba but which in this case involves the possibility of years in prison for those found guilty. 

Most of the demonstrations were angry but usually peaceful and only in a few instances did the demonstrators behave violently, as in the case of some looting and a police car that was overturned. This was in clear contrast with the violence frequently displayed by the forces of order. It is worth noting that in calling his followers to take to the streets to combat the demonstrators, Díaz-Canel invoked the more than 60-year-old notion that ​“the streets belong to the revolutionaries.” Just as the government has always proclaimed that ​“the universities belong to the revolutionaries” in order to expel students and professors that don’t toe the government’s line. One example is René Fidel González García, a law professor expelled from the University of Oriente. He is a strong critic of government policies, who, far from giving up on his revolutionary ideals, has reaffirmed them on numerous occasions.

But Why Now?

Cuba is in the middle of the most serious economic crisis since the 1990s, when, as a result of the collapse of the Soviet bloc, Cubans suffered innumerable and lengthy blackouts due to the severe shortage of oil, along with endemic malnutrition with its accompanying health problems.

The present economic crisis is due to the pandemic-related decline of tourism, combined with the government’s long term capital disinvestment and inability to maintain production, even at the lower levels of the last five years. Cuba’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) fell by 11% in 2020 and only rose by 0.5% in 2019, the year before the pandemic broke out. The annual sugar crop that ended this spring did not even reach 1 million tons, which is below the 1.4 million average of recent years and very far below the 8 million tons in 1989. The recent government attempt to unify the various currencies circulating in Cuba — primarily the CUC, a proxy for the dollar, and the peso — has backfired resulting in serious inflation that was predicted among others by the prominent Cuban economist Carmelo Mesa-Lago. While the CUC is indeed disappearing, the Cuban economy has been virtually dollarized with the constant decline of the value of the peso. While the official exchange rate is 24 pesos to the dollar, the prevailing black market rate is 60 pesos to the dollar, and it is going to get worse due to the lack of tourist dollars. This turn to an ever more expensive dollar, may be somewhat restrained in light of the government’s recent shift to the euro as its preferred hard currency. 

Worst of all, is the generalized shortage of food, even for those who have divisas, the generic term for hard currencies. The agricultural reforms of the last years aimed at increasing domestic production have not worked because they are inadequate and insufficient, making it impossible for the private farmers and for the usufructuarios (farmers who lease land from the government for 20 year terms renewable for another 20 years) to feed the country. Thus, for example, the government arbitrarily gives bank credits to the farmers for some things but not for others, like for clearing the marabú, an invasive weed that is costly to remove, but an essential task if crops are to grow. Acopio, the state agency in charge of collecting the substantial proportion of the crop that farmers have to sell to the state at prices fixed by the government is notoriously inefficient and wasteful, because the Acopio trucks do not arrive in time to collect their share, or because of the systemic indifference and carelessness that pervade the processes of shipping and storage. This creates huge spoilage and waste that have reduced the quality and quantity of goods available to consumers. It is for reasons such as these that Cuba imports 70% of the food it consumes from various countries including the United States (an exemption to the blockade was carved out in 2001 for the unlimited export of food and medicines to Cuba but with the serious limitation that Cuba has to pay in cash before the goods are shipped to the island.)

The Cuban economist Pedro Monreal has called attention to the overwhelming millions of pesos that the government has dedicated to the construction of tourist hotels (mostly in joint ventures with foreign capital) that even before the pandemic were filled to well below their capacity, while agriculture is starved of government investments. This unilateral choice of priorities by the one-party state is an example of what results from profoundly undemocratic practices. This is not a ​“flaw” of the Cuban system any more than the relentless pursuit of profit is a ​“flaw” of American capitalism. Both bureaucracy and the absence of democracy in Cuba and the relentless pursuit of profit in the United States are not defects of but constitutive elements of both systems.

Similarly, oil has become increasingly scarce as Venezuelan oil shipments in exchange for Cuban medical services have declined. There is no doubt that Trump’s strengthening of the criminal blockade, which went beyond merely reversing Obama’s liberalization during his second period in the White House, has also gravely hurt the island, among other reasons because it has made it more difficult for the Cuban government to use banks abroad, whether American or not, to finance its operations. This is because the U.S. government will punish enterprises who do business with Cuba by blocking them from doing business with the United States. Until the events of July 11,the Biden administration had left almost all of Trump’s sanctions untouched. Since then, it has promised to allow for larger remittances and to provide staff for the American consulate in Havana. 

While the criminal blockade has been very real and seriously damaging, it has been relatively less important in creating economic havoc than what lies at the very heart of the Cuban economic system: the bureaucratic, inefficient and irrational control and management of the economy by the Cuban government. It is the Cuban government and its ​“left” allies in the Global North, not the Cuban people, who continue, as they have for decades, to blame only the blockade. 

At the same time, the working class in the urban and rural areas have neither economic incentives nor political incentives in the form of democratic control of their workplaces and society to invest themselves in their work, thus reducing the quantity and quality of production. 

Health Situation in Cuba 

After the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in the early spring of 2020, Cuba did relatively well during the first year of the pandemic in comparison with other countries in the region. But in the last few months the situation in Cuba, for what are still unclear reasons except for the entry of the Delta variant in the island, made a sharp turn for the worse, and in doing so seriously aggravated the economic and political problems of the country. Thus, as Jessica Domínguez Delgado noted in the Cuban blog El Toque (July 13), until April 12, a little more than a year after the beginning of the pandemic, 467 persons had died among the 87,385 cases that had been diagnosticated as having Covid-19. But only three months later, on July 12, the number of the deceased had reached 1,579 with 224, 914 diagnosed cases (2.5 times as many as in the much longer previous period).

The province of Matanzas and its capital city of the same name located 100 kilometers east of Havana became the epicenter of the pandemic’s sudden expansion in Cuba. According to the provincial governor, Matanzas province was 3,000 beds short of the number of patients that needed them. On July 6, a personal friend who lives in the city of Matanzas wrote to me about the dire health situation in the city with a lack of doctors, tests, and oxygen in the midst of collapsing hospitals. My friend wrote that the national government had shown itself incapable of controlling the situation until that very day when it finally formulated a plan of action for the city. The government did finally take a number of measures including sending a substantial number of additional medical personnel, although it is too early to tell at the time of this writing with what results.

Cuban scientists and research institutions deserve a lot of credit for the development of several anti-Covid vaccines. However, the government was responsible for the excessive and unnecessary delay in immunizing people on the island, made worse by its decision to neither procure donations of vaccines from abroad nor join the 190-nation strong COVAX (Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access) sponsored by several international organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), an organization with which the Cuban government has good relations. Currently only 16% of the population has been fully vaccinated and 30% has received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The medical crisis in the province and capital city of Matanzas fits into a more general pattern of medical scarcity and abandonment as the Cuban government has accelerated its export of medical personnel abroad to strengthen what has been for some time its number one export. This is why the valuable family doctor program introduced in the 1980s has seriously deteriorated. While the Cuban government uses a sliding scale (including some pro bono work) in what it charges its foreign government clients, Cuban doctors get an average of 10 – 25% of what the foreign clients pay the Cuban government. Needless to add, Cuban medical personnel cannot organize independent unions to bargain with the government about the terms of their employment. Nevertheless, going abroad is a desired assignment for most Cuban doctors because they earn a significant amount of hard currency and can purchase foreign goods. However, if they fail to return to Cuba after their assignments are over, they are administratively (i.e., not judicially) punished with a forced exile of 8 years duration. 

The Political Context 

Earlier this year, the leadership old guard, who fought the Batista regime and are in their late eighties and early nineties, retired from their government positions to give way to the new leadership of Miguel Díaz-Canel (born in 1960) as president and Manuel Marrero Cruz (born in 1963) as prime minister. This new leadership is continuing Raúl Castro’s policy of economic and social liberalization without democratization. For example, in 2013 the government liberalized the regulations that controlled the movement of people to make it easier for most Cubans to travel abroad. However, at the same time, the government made it virtually impossible for many dissidents to leave the country, by for example delaying their departure so they could not make it on time to conferences held abroad, and by creating a list of some 200 ​“regulados” (people subject to regulatory rules) that are not allowed to leave the country at all. It is important to point out that as in the case of other measures adopted by the Cuban government mentioned earlier, these actions continue the policies of Fidel and Raúl Castro, in which political and administrative decisions are made outside of the regime’s own judicial system. The same applies to the hundreds of relatively brief detentions that the government of Raúl Castro carried out every year, especially to try to impede public demonstrations not controlled by the government (a police method that only works for previously planned political protests, unlike the ones that took place on July 11). 

The One-Party State

The one-party state continues to function as under Fidel and Raúl Castro’s rule. In reality, however, the Cuban Communist Party (PCC, its Spanish acronym) is not really a party — that would imply the existence of other parties. Neither is the PCC primarily an electoral party although it does firmly control from the top the periodic so-called elections that always result in the unanimous approval of the political course followed by the authorities.

Sometimes people disillusioned with the existing corrupt parties in Latin America and even in the United States itself, react with indifference if not approval to the Cuban one-party state because they perceive elections as reinforcing corrupt systems. Thus such people think that is better to have one honest political party that works than a corrupt multi-party system that doesn’t work. The problem with this type of thinking is that one-party bureaucratic systems do not work well at all, except perhaps to thoroughly repress any opposition. Moreover, corruption sooner or later works its way into the single party system as history has repeatedly shown. In the case of Cuba, Fidel Castro himself warned in a famous speech on November 17, 2005, that the revolution was in greater danger to perish because of endemic corruption than because of the actions of counterrevolutionaries.

The organizational monopoly of the PCC — explicitly sanctioned by the Cuban constitution — affects far more than elections. It extends its power in a highly authoritarian manner to control Cuban society through the so-called mass organizations that function as transmission belts for the decisions taken by the PCC’s Political Bureau. For example, the CTC, the official trade union, is the transmission belt that allows the Cuban state to maintain its monopoly of the organization of Cuban workers. Beyond enforcing the prohibition of strikes, the CTC is not an organization for the defense of working class interests as determined by the workers themselves. Rather, it was established to advance what the ruling PCC leadership determines are the workers’ best interests.

The same control mechanisms apply to other ​“mass organizations” such as the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) and to other institutions such as editorial houses, universities and the rest of the educational system. The mass media (radio, television and newspapers) continue to be under the control of the government, guided in their coverage by the ​“orientations” of the Ideological Department of the Central Committee of the PCC. There are however, two important exceptions to the state’s control of media organs: one, is the internal publications of the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, the Cuban Catholic hierarchy is extremely cautious, and the circulation of its publications is in any case limited to its parishes and other Catholic institutions. A far more important exception is the Internet, which the government has yet been unable to place under its absolute control and remains as the principal vehicle for critical and dissident voices. It was precisely this less than full control of the Internet that made the nationwide politically explosive outbreaks of July 11 possible. 

Where is Cuba Going?

Without the benefit of Fidel Castro’s presence and the degree of legitimacy retained by the historic leadership, Díaz-Canel and the other new government leaders were politically hit hard by the events of July 11, even though they received the shameful support of most of the broad international Left. The fact that people no longer seem to be afraid may be the single largest threat for the government emerging from the events on July 11. In spite of that blow, the new leadership is on course to continue Raúl Castro’s orientation to develop a Cuban version of the Sino-Vietnamese model, which combine a high degree of political authoritarianism with concessions to private and especially foreign capital.

At the same time, the Cuban government leaders will continue to follow inconsistent and even contradictory economic reform policies for fear of losing control to Cuban private capital. The government recently authorized the creation of private PYMES (small and medium private enterprises), but it would not be at all surprising if many of the newly created PYMES end up in the hands of important state functionaries turned private capitalists. There is an important government stratum composed of business managers and technicians with ample experience in such sectors as tourism, particularly in the military. The most important among them is the 61-year-old Gen. Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja, a former son-in-law of Raúl Castro, who is the director of GAESA, the huge military business conglomerate, which includes Gaviota, the principal tourist enterprise in the island. It is significant that he recently became a member of the Political Bureau of the PCC. 

Perhaps this younger generation of business military and civilian bureaucrats may try to overcome the rentier mentality that 30 years of ample Soviet assistance created among the Cuban leadership as witnessed the failure to modernize and diversify the sugar industry (as Brazil did) during those relatively prosperous years that ended in 1990. To be sure, the U.S. economic blockade contributed to the rentier mentality by encouraging a day-to-day economic survival attitude rather than of increasing the productivity of the Cuban economy to allow for a more prosperous future. 

Finally, what about the United States? Biden is unlikely to do much in his first term to change the United States’ imperialist policies towards Cuba that were significantly aggravated by Trump. Whether a possible second Democratic administration in Washington beginning in 2025 will do anything different remains an open question.

There is, however, a paradox underlying the U.S. government’s Cuba policy. While U.S. policy is not at present primarily driven by ruling class interests but, rather, by electoral considerations, particularly in the highly contested state of Florida, it is not for that reason necessarily less harsh or, what is more alarming, less durable. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, probably the most politically active business institution in the United States has advocated the resumption of normal business relations with Cuba for many years. Thomas J. Donohue, its long-time director who retired earlier this year, visited Cuba in numerous occasions and met with government leaders there. Big agribusiness concerns are also interested in doing business with Cuba as are agricultural and other business interests in the South, Southwest and Mountain States represented by both Republican and Democratic politicians. However, it is doubtful that they are inclined to expend a lot of political capital in achieving that goal.

This places a heavy extra burden on the U.S. Left to overcome the deadlock, which clearly favors the indefinite continuation of the blockade, through a new type of campaign that both zeroes in on the grave aggression and injustice committed against the Cuban people without at the same time becoming apologists for the political leadership of the Cuban state. 

Be that as it may, people on the Left in the United States have two key tasks. First, they should firmly oppose the criminal economic blockade of Cuba. Second, they should support the democratic rights of the Cuban people rather than an ossified police state, in the same way that they have supported the struggle for human rights, democracy, and radical social and economic change in Colombia and Chile in Latin America as well as Myanmar and Hong Kong in Asia.

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CUBA: SERVE THE PEOPLE; Cuba Is Facing its Worst Shortage of Food since the 1990s

Government bungling and a shortage of dollars are to blame

The Economist, July 3, 2021

Original Article: Cuba’s Food Crisis

“CUBANS HAVE always been resourceful,” says Ana, the owner of a private farm-to-table restaurant near Havana. “But now we need to be magicians and acrobats.” The communist island is facing its worst shortage of food since the 1990s. Finding ingredients was never easy in a place which imports around 70% of its food. Over the past year it has become nearly impossible. When grocery shops are empty, as is so often the case, Ana tries the internet or the black market, only to find that prices are prohibitively high. Farmers no longer want to sell produce to her, she says, as they need to eat it themselves.

“CUBANS HAVE always been resourceful,” says Ana, the owner of a private farm-to-table restaurant near Havana. “But now we need to be magicians and acrobats.” The communist island is facing its worst shortage of food since the 1990s. Finding ingredients was never easy in a place which imports around 70% of its food. Over the past year it has become nearly impossible. When grocery shops are empty, as is so often the case, Ana tries the internet or the black market, only to find that prices are prohibitively high. Farmers no longer want to sell produce to her, she says, as they need to eat it themselves.

The government blames the shortage of food mostly on sanctions imposed by the United States—sanctions which, on June 24th, the UN General Assembly voted to condemn, as it has done nearly every year since 1992. But since 2001 the sanctions have exempted food. Indeed, the United States is the largest exporter of food to Cuba, though last year those imports were at their lowest level since 2002.

Some external factors have affected the food supply. The jump in global food prices, which in the year to May surged by 40%, the largest increase in a decade, has made imports more expensive. But the main problem is the government’s lack of hard currency. Tourism, normally 10% of GDP, has atrophied because of the pandemic: whereas 4.2m people visited in 2019, just over 1m did last year, nearly all in the first three months of the year. Remittances have also suffered. Before covid-19, commercial airlines would operate as many as ten flights a day between Miami and Havana, all packed with cash-toting mulas. But now only a handful of flights go to Havana each week. In addition, this year’s harvest of sugar—one of Cuba’s main exports—was the worst in more than a century, as a result of drought (the dollar shortage also sapped supplies of fertiliser and petrol).

The government is trying desperately to eke out dollars and skimp on imported goods. Cubans can no longer buy greenbacks from state-operated exchanges at the airport. State-owned bakeries are replacing a fifth of the imported wheat flour they use in bread with substitutes made from home-grown corn, pumpkin or yucca, much to the dismay of consumers, who have complained that bread now tastes like soggy corn. The sale of biscuits has been limited in certain cities to cut back even more on imports of flour.

Since February, in a desperate attempt to collect hard currency, the government has required that foreigners pay for their seven-day mandatory stay in a state-owned quarantine hotel in dollars (since June, this has even applied to some Cubans). To earn more from its diaspora, the state also operates e-commerce sites through which Cubans abroad can pay in dollars or euros for food and gifts to be delivered to people on the island.

Indeed many Cubans abroad are trying to help their family members stave off hunger by sending their own care packages. But even these have become harder and more costly to post. Goods from the United States that once took two weeks to deliver can now take up to four months to arrive, as shortages of fuel and trucks in Cuba make the final leg of the delivery trickier.

Bungled policy responses have made things worse. On June 10th the Cuban central bank announced that, from June 21st, Cubans would not be able to deposit dollars into their bank accounts for an undisclosed amount of time. This is despite the fact that, in order to buy goods in state-owned shops, Cubans need to have a prepaid card loaded with dollars. They will now have to exchange their dollars for euros or other currencies, which involves a fee. Emilio Morales, the head of the Havana Consulting Group in Miami, thinks this was a way to scare people into depositing more before the deadline.

Rather than stabilise the economy, the policy is likely to do the reverse. Some exchange houses in Miami soon ran out of euros. Cuban banks were overwhelmed by queues of panicking people trying to deposit the dollars they needed to buy groceries. “Cuba has 11m hostages and is expecting Cuban exiles to pay their ransom,” says Mr Morales. Ricardo Cabrisas, the deputy prime minister, was recently in Paris negotiating another extension on the roughly $3.5bn of loans owed to foreign governments—the island has been in arrears since 2019. An ultimatum from creditors may help explain the government’s desire to hoover up greenbacks.

Despite making some attempts to liberalise the economy, the government is bafflingly poor at boosting agricultural production or wooing foreign investors. Firms producing food in Cuba earn only pesos, which have little value internationally, but must buy almost all their inputs abroad in a foreign currency. The government requires farmers to sell their harvest to the state at uncompetitive prices and imposes draconian rules on livestock management. Up until last month it was illegal to slaughter a cow before it had reached an advanced age, as determined by the state. Now farmers may kill them either to sell the meat or to eat it themselves. But before they do so, they must jump through a series of hoops, including certifying that the cow has produced at least 520 litres of milk a year. They are also not allowed to let their herd shrink overall, and so can only slaughter one cow for every three calves they add to it—a tall order in the long run, mathematically. As it is, Cuba is having trouble maintaining its existing cattle herd: last year, in the province of Las Tunas alone, more than 7,000 cows died from dehydration. Farmers have to complete paperwork and wait a week for approval, too. “The process of applying to eat a cow is enough to make you lose your appetite,” says a farmer in Bahía Honda.

Rural transportion
Zafra of 2016-20127

Cubans are no strangers to difficult times. Eliecer Jiménez Almeida, a Cuban filmmaker in Miami, was a child during the “special period” of hardship after the fall of the Soviet Union, and remembers how his grandmother sold her gold teeth in exchange for soap, just so that he and his siblings could take a bath. For him and for many Cubans, the question is not how many more of the same indignities their people can endure, but how much longer.

Discontent was slightly less likely when Fidel Castro was in power. He had charisma and mystique that neither his brother and successor, Raúl, nor Cuba’s current president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, can replicate. What is more, the Cuban diaspora is larger and wealthier and the internet has shown Cubans that many of their economic difficulties are created by their leaders, not the United States. The best way to stave off popular discontent would be to implement more and bigger economic reforms, at a faster pace, starting with farms and small businesses. It is a measure of Cubans’ disillusionment that the old revolutionary cry of “Hasta la victoria siempre” (On to victory, always) has largely been supplanted by the longsuffering “¿Hasta cuándo?” (How much longer?) ■

Fidel, cutting cane during the Zafra of 1970
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SOBRE LA DEFENSA DE LA ECONOMÍA CUBANA

Mauricio De Miranda Parrondo 17 junio 2021

Original Article

En días recientes, autoridades cubanas anunciaron que a partir del 21 de junio no se recibirían depósitos de dólares estadounidenses en efectivo en las cuentas en moneda libremente convertible (MLC). La razón argumentada se refiere a las sanciones económicas impuestas por el gobierno de Estados Unidos y su agudización poco antes del fin de la administración Trump.

Habría que recordar no obstante que Cuba tiene prohibido operar en dólares estadounidenses desde inicios del embargo, a comienzos de los sesenta, y a pesar de ello ha persistido en el uso de esa divisa como principal moneda de reserva. Incluso, las últimas decisiones relativas a la unificación cambiaria la ratifican como referencia del nuevo tipo de cambio unificado, para lo cual se ha definido un anclaje nominal del peso cubano.

La medida ha sido controvertida, tanto por el momento de su adopción como porque en el fondo no soluciona ninguno de los principales problemas que afectan a la economía insular. Pese a ello, varias autoridades han afirmado que esta decisión se adopta «en defensa de la economía cubana». Me permito discrepar, una vez más, de las opiniones vertidas por algunos dirigentes respecto a cuestiones de política económica. En cualquier caso, es una medida insuficiente para tal propósito.

Las debilidades de la economía resultan de una combinación de problemas estructurales, políticas erróneas adoptadas por el gobierno a lo largo de seis décadas —con graves efectos acumulativos— y de las sanciones económicas impuestas por Estados Unidos durante años. Los efectos de estas últimas están fuera del control de Cuba, puesto que solo el Congreso de ese país puede removerlas. Las dificultades estructurales, sin embargo, dependen de su condición de nación subdesarrollada, agravada por los errores de las políticas económicas.

 A esto debe añadirse que la soberanía nacional, planteada como meta por el proceso revolucionario, no ha podido alcanzarse realmente en la esfera económica. La dependencia que Cuba tuvo respecto a Estados Unidos por varias décadas, fue reemplazada por una no menos profunda a la Unión Soviética.

Cuando este último país se desintegró, la Isla debió enfrentar la crisis económica más profunda de toda su historia, en la que el Producto Interior Bruto (PIB) acumuló una contracción de casi un 35% entre 1990 y 1993. Los efectos de esa crisis no han sido superados plenamente, sobre todo en lo que se refiere a la industria y a la agricultura.

A partir de la victoria del chavismo en Venezuela en 1999, la economía cubana reprodujo con aquel país una relación de dependencia parecida a las anteriormente mencionadas, con la particularidad de que las necesidades de combustible y otros bienes provenientes del país suramericano —aún nuestro principal suministrador de importaciones— eran más que compensadas por la exportación de servicios médicos y profesionales.

Como es sabido, Venezuela viene arrastrando una profunda crisis económica que se expresa en variaciones negativas sucesivas de su PIB entre 2014 y 2020, para un comportamiento anual promedio de -18,9% en el período. Especialmente duros han sido los años 2019 y 2020, en los que su economía se contrajo 35% y 30% respectivamente (IMF, 2021).

En las condiciones actuales, la economía cubana está enfrentando una profunda crisis, agudizada por la pandemia del Covid-19 y los efectos del recrudecimiento de las sanciones económicas por la administración Trump. Sin embargo, el origen de esta crisis no depende de esos dos hechos. En 2019, el PIB tuvo una contracción de 0,2% respecto a 2018, el consumo de los hogares se contrajo en 1,3%, las exportaciones de bienes y servicios en 4,6% y las importaciones en 2,9% (ONEI, 2020).

La sensibilidad de la economía cubana a los choques externos continúa siendo muy alta, y la crisis venezolana tiene efectos contraccionistas en tal sentido.

Después del deterioro de los noventa, el gobierno cubano apostó por reinsertar al país en la economía mundial como proveedor de servicios turísticos. El turismo se convirtió así en prioridad estratégica, ha venido captando un volumen considerable de inversiones y su importancia creció significativamente en los ingresos en divisas.

En 2019, dicho sector aportó el 20,9% de ese tipo de ingresos y superó la sumatoria de las exportaciones de bienes, que solo representó el 16,3% del total. A falta de datos más precisos, el resto fue aportado, esencialmente, por las exportaciones de servicios profesionales y las remesas, lo cual constituyó un total de 7.925 millones de dólares.[1]

sistemático de los sectores industrial y agrícola, cuyos niveles de producción se mantienen, en gran parte de los rubros, por debajo de los alcanzados en 1989.

En 2019, por ejemplo, se produjo solo un 29,9% del azúcar que se obtenía tres décadas antes, 69,8% de los alimentos, 85,9% del tabaco, 7% de los productos textiles, 15% de las prendas de vestir, 9,3% de artículos de cuero, 34,1% de los productos de madera, 4,3% de fertilizantes, 27,1% de materiales de construcción, 12,4% de productos de caucho y de plástico, 1,9% de maquinarias y equipos, 15,8% de maquinarias y aparatos eléctricos, 0,1% de equipos de transporte, 88,1% de sustancias y productos químicos, 48,6% de equipos y aparatos de radio, televisión y comunicaciones.

En los únicos rubros en que superó la producción de 1989, fue en la elaboración de bebidas, con un 113,5%, y en la de muebles, que alcanzó el 179%. El índice general de volumen de la producción industrial en 2019 respecto a 1989 fue de solo 61,3 (ONEI, 2020) y no es que ese año fuera el de mejor desempeño para la industria cubana.

De acuerdo con estadísticas de la ONEI, el sector agropecuario presenta incrementos en 2019 comparados con 1989 en la producción de: frijoles (753,7%), maíz (425,4%), viandas (174,4%), tabaco (66,2%) y otras frutas (211,1%); así como en la carne de cerdo (207,6%) y de huevos (11,3%). Mientras, ha disminuido la existencia de cabezas de ganado (77,5%), la producción de carne de aves (40,9%), carne bovina (48,5%), leche de vaca (55,4%), arroz (73,1%), cítricos (8,1%) y hortalizas (61,7%).

En gran medida, estos desempeños sectoriales son resultado de la combinación de dificultades externas de la economía con una serie de fenómenos internos, entre los que pueden mencionarse: fallas en la planificación, insuficiencias organizativas en la actividad empresarial, escasos estímulos económicos a los productores, errores de política económica causados por el excesivo voluntarismo en la toma de decisiones e inexistencia de mecanismos de control a la gestión del gobierno por parte de la sociedad.

Aún no se dispone de toda la información para 2020, no obstante, se informó oficialmente que el PIB se contrajo un 11,3% respecto a 2019. The Economist Intelligence Unit estimó que la producción industrial se redujo un 11,2%, mientras que la agropecuaria lo hizo un 12,0%; en tanto, el déficit fiscal llegó a representar un 20,1% del PIB. Estas cifras preliminares denotan una muy difícil situación macroeconómica.

Así las cosas, para defender la economía cubana es necesario adoptar una serie de medidas que superen ampliamente el alcance de una disposición marginal como es la suspensión de depósitos de dólares en efectivo en los bancos de la Isla.

Para proteger la economía de la nación, es imprescindible tomar medidas que permitan la recuperación de la industria de su actual colapso y obsolescencia tecnológica, que impulsen la recuperación de los sectores agropecuario, pesquero y del transporte; que desarrollen la infraestructura, rescaten la industria azucarera, diversifiquen e incrementen los rubros exportables, reduzcan la excesiva dependencia externa y fortalezcan la soberanía del peso cubano como moneda nacional, respaldada por una economía en crecimiento.

El desarrollo económico no se garantiza con fórmulas propagandísticas, ni puede asegurarse con el simple deseo de que se produzca. Es imperativo crear las condiciones institucionales y un clima de negocios que favorezca apuestas de inversión, no solo por parte del Estado sino también del sector privado aún incipiente, junto a la inversión extranjera directa (IED).

Esta última es imprescindible, porque el país no cuenta con fuentes suficientes de acumulación de capital y el incremento del endeudamiento no puede ser una opción a considerar. Las posibilidades que brinda el sector privado para constituir microempresas, pequeñas y medianas empresas  industriales, agropecuarias y de servicios son inmensas.

Mientras tanto, el peso podría anclar su tipo de cambio al euro o a una canasta de monedas que reduzca la influencia del dólar en la determinación del valor nominal de la moneda cubana en términos de monedas extranjeras. Adicionalmente, debiera modificarse la estructura de las reservas internacionales del país, eliminando los dólares estadounidenses de las mismas o reduciendo sustancialmente su participación.

Una medida de realismo económico sería la rectificación del error cometido por las autoridades cubanas al establecer una sobrevaluación del peso cubano en su tipo de cambio unificado. La sobrevaluación de una moneda tiene efectos nocivos en la economía de cualquier país, porque reduce la competitividad de su sector exportador, abarata injustificadamente las importaciones y no permite que la tasa de cambio actúe como válvula de escape de la presión que representan los desequilibrios externos. 

En tanto no se creen las condiciones para que se produzcan más bienes industriales y agropecuarios; mientras no se dinamicen la construcción, el sector de los transportes, las comunicaciones, los servicios comerciales y profesionales; si no se alcanzan tasas de ahorro e inversión que realmente impulsen el crecimiento; la economía cubana seguirá siendo extremadamente vulnerable y la soberanía nacional profundamente comprometida. Los malabarismos cambiarios no resuelven esos problemas.

El Estado cubano no cuenta con los recursos necesarios para asegurar semejante tarea económica. El gobierno puede seguir anclado en su idea fija respecto a que la planificación centralizada sea el principal mecanismo de asignación de recursos, o que la propiedad estatal continúe dominando el sistema económico; de hacerlo fracasará una vez más, porque lejos de propiciar el mejoramiento del bienestar de la sociedad, profundizará el actual estancamiento.

No pueden perderse de vista las consecuencias políticas de los errores en las decisiones económicas. Llegados al punto actual, no existe otra opción posible para Cuba que no sea estimular el desarrollo de los sectores privado y cooperativo, sin camisas de fuerza, con la convicción de que en su desarrollo contribuirán significativamente —ellos sí—, a la defensa de la economía cubana; así como crear las condiciones para que se incremente la inversión extranjera directa en sectores que puedan conectar la producción nacional con cadenas productivas globales.

En este proceso, el papel regulador de un Estado democrático es de valor inestimable, para evitar los fallos del mercado, sin restringirlo, y para crear las condiciones que permitan utilizar instrumentos fiscales en la redistribución de recursos con criterios de justicia social.

***

Referencias.

IMF (2021) World Economic Outlook Database.

ONEI (2020) Anuario Estadístico de Cuba, 2019.

The Economist (2021) The EIU Intelligence Unit Report.

[1] Cálculos con base a ONEI (2020)

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