It has been amusing during the past week to read the media headlines related to Cuba’s latest experiment in Orwellian planning: Cuba details new world of private enterprise (Miami Herald), Cuba will let people work for themselves (CNN), Cuba plans capitalist reforms (Canada’s National Post), Cuba privatizes while Obama socializes (Washington Examiner), or this silly gem from, of all folks, the Wall Street Journal: Cuba to cut state jobs in tilt toward free market.
Get this in your blocky heads, Cuba does not, and never will under this regime, have a private sector or support free enterprise. The Cuban Constitution Cuba declares early on that “Cuba is an independent and sovereign socialist state of workers” and that the “[t]he Communist Party of Cuba, a follower … Marxism-Leninism, and the organized vanguard of the Cuban nation, is the highest leading force of society and of the state, which organizes and guides the common effort toward the goals of the construction of socialism and the progress toward a communist society.” The all knowing state, as a matter of law, owns everything.
Another quixotic fairy tale that should also be abandoned is that Cuba is entering a phase of Chinese economic planning. Assuming for just a moment that is a good idea, and it is not, most current Cuban planners are incapable of managing such a transition. The Castro caudillo will make it all but impossible. And what they need most, foreign investment and free-market know how, will be tightly controlled by party planners with no experience with free markets. This will make it very difficult for foreign investors to take the risks needed to begin to put Cuba on the path to prosperity. Then there is that nagging question of the billions of dollars worth of certified claims by U.S. persons that clouds foreign investment in key sectors of the Cuban economy.
Reaching out to Israel, creating job lists, token releases political prisoners and dissidents, as well as inviting high profile U.S. trade missions to Cuba is all part of the new Communist Party sideshow. There is not substantive change because the Castro political and money machine, deep down, does not want change. Quite the opposite. None of this is real. The goal for the Party planners is to weather this latest economic challenge on the island in the hopes that it can cling to power a few more decades. All some of us can do is grin. Why?
For decades and to this day, opponents of U.S. policy toward Cuba have argued passionately that economic sanctions and our other tools have failed to exact changes in Cuba. The truth is quite the opposite. Look at how it is acting today. If the United States had enforced the laws and regulations on the books as written and intended, the regime would have crumbled a long time ago. Rather than kowtow to the regime, the Obama Administration should squeeze the political and economic vise on Cuban regime officials. Enforce the sanctions, limit travel, and stop selling to the Party machine. The government will crumble in six months, at most.
But even if the U.S. does nothing, or keeps attempting to change the system from within, Cuba’s latest economic and political sideshow will fail. For now, like the circus, it will make for good political entertainment.