Why Cuba’s Transition Will Be Just Fine, No Matter What the DC Think Tanks Say
A Miami friend sent us a photo he snapped recently in the parking lot of a popular Little Havana restaurant. Miami’s Versailles restaurant is a Cuban-American mecca for good Cuban soul food, politics, and wacky people and things such as a lawnmower in the trunk of a luxury car. It’s Miami’s answer to what folks in my parts these days would say, get’er done.
Classy? Not in a million years. But that’s the point, the person driving that car needed to get that lawn mower from point A to B. That the car is not supposed to be used for that does not matter. And that is why people who leave Cuba for the United States have always thrived here, even after living under the thumb of communism for decades.
While the reasons for exile have changed, there is something about freedom that dictatorships, try as they may, will never snuff out. In fact, if you ask any recent arrival they will tell you that in order to survive in these repressive societies you must become an underground capitalist to surivive. You may not know it at the time, but as soon as you arrive in a free country that person realizes that all the hard survival work in Cuba turns out to be a great proving ground for success in here.
The policy planners in this town are concerned about Cuba’s transition and whether the people will be ready to live in freedom. I have attended more conference I care to remember where fancy ideas were used to show how the transition will be comparable to eastern Europe’s from communism or to some model in Latin America. We have been warned it will take decades to stabilize the island and that, in my lifetime, it will never happen. I think they are all wrong.
There will be bumps along the way and there may also be bloodshed in the near term, however, Cubans will adapt, as they always have, and succeed. The difference this time will be that they will be able to do so in an atmosphere where freedom and rule of law will create conditions so that they can thrive. You will see a lot of people with lawnmowers in the trunks of fancy cars. And we may laugh but they will say, at least we have lawnmowers today and green grass that needs cutting.