What is Going on in Cuba?
For decades the Cuban government has been Communist. In the early 1900s Cuba almost become a U.S. state. Since that missed opportunity poverty, misery and pure evil have been inflicted upon the Cuban people. As a resident of South Florida, I will be living very close to the island. It is a tragedy that a country so close to the U.S. is not taking advantage of the opportunity to become a rich nation. Many observers expected the regime to disintegrate in the 1990s when the Soviet collapse left the island politically isolated and cut off from the subsidies that had kept its struggling economy afloat. Widespread food and energy shortages marked what Castro called the “special period,” but a mix of ruthless repression and shrewd opportunism kept the Communist Party in power.
One of the ways Cuba has stayed relevant and alive is money made from tourism. After the Soviet Union fell, Castro advertised throughout the world how great it would be to visit Cuba for the first time. Many Europeans took the opportunity to visit and introduced a huge amount of euros into the economy helping sustain the Communist rule. While Americans were not allowed, the Canadians also proved eager to spend time on the warm and sunny island. A huge driver for Western tourists was the prevalent number of prostitutes available. Therefore, Castro used the promise of sex for eager tourists from wealthy nations. In addition, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela provided oil in exchange for Cuban military intelligence support.
Castro deliberately steered Cuba away from any policies supporting the free market. Keeping his nation poor and weak would offer him and his successor Raul Castro, political freedom to do whatever they wanted. Yet even in this sense, Castro would never rule over a wealthy nation. The government in Beijing advised Castro to embrace the free market in the model of China and Vietnam. However, this never happened. Castro chose to follow Pol Pot’s dream of a small, agrarian nation closed off from the world.
In the exact same way Castro limited the political freedom of his constituents, he limited any hope of financial success on the island. No single investor, corporate or individual was allowed to accumulate enough assets to pose any kind of political threat to the power structure. When Fidel’s brother Raul took over the government after his brother’s death. He continued virtually all of the previously implemented communist policies.
The Castro brothers long blamed the islands many problems on the longstanding U.S. trade embargo. Yet, Venezuela proves that socialism can produce mass poverty and misery even without a U.S. embargo. With the recent protests, many Americans, especially those of Cuban heritage, are hopeful of an overthrow of President Miguel Diaz-Canal’s communist regime. No one knows how the protests will go in Cuba. The Cuban government will likely seek monetary support from the Russians and Chinese. The U.S. government is relatively bipartisan in opposing the Cuban regime. Democrat Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez, the state government of Florida and the Biden administration support leaving the Trump sanctions in place against Cuba. Time will tell what the result will be in Cuba.