Periodo Especial Forever In Cuba? 07/14/2016
For the first time the Castros do not have a patron. 57 years they exerted power backed by the economic support of the Soviet Union (1959-1989) and Venezuela (1999-2016). But celebrations this July 26th are gloomy. Raul Castro acknowledged economic difficulties, and he encouraged everyone to trust and have faith in the present and future of the revolution, during a speech on July 8th. The thread of a Periodo Especial aggravated is a campaign of the enemy, the elder guerilla leaders argue. But Cubans have been increasingly aware of the incoming chaos, as news from Venezuela arrived, the oil price dropped, the General did not speed up economic measures, store lacked inventory, fuel was rationed and a blackout started.
Fidel Castro was confident that the soviet bloc would last forever, over ten years, Cubans confronted the worst crisis ever, called Special Period in Peace Time. The underpaid imports and overvalued exports, technical and scientific cooperation, and investments stopped overnight. The huge assistance had been thrown away in wars abroad and unproductive mega plans at home. First the Comandante blamed Gorbachev, but as blackouts and lack of supplies dragged on too long the population was upset, and he got hold of the American embargo. But lucky him! After Hugo Chavez intended a coup d’etat in 1992, Fidel guided his soul mate to save the revolutions and reconquering the world as president elected in 1999. The small openings in farmers markets, self-employment, State owned and foreign enterprises that supposedly Raul Castro convinced him to allow had relieved the economic turmoil, but they were reversed as soon as Venezuela’s oil and dollars were pumped in 2000. Only tourism survived, handled by the military.
In 2006, Raul Castro inherited the power he had been supporting with his military and a worn out country. The socio-economic levels existing in 1989 had not been regained; the infrastructure was destroyed, and Hugo Chavez tried to keep Fidel’s body and ideas alive. Raul Castro tried to gain Cuban’s support by lifting absurd bans, such as allowing cell phones and admission in hotels, and recognized that changes in the economy had to be brought about, but the measures taken have been too timid and slow. He sought international acceptance and new financial support. In 2013, Chavez passed away and Venezuela’s comprehensive support became at stake. The situation was ripe for the United States to change its approach toward Cuba, thus Obama’s people to people policy, and Raul Castro’s eagerness for the embargo to end. Most of the creditors (mainly European) have forgiven the external debt that the Cuban government stopped paying in 1986 and foreign investment is promoted.
Raul Castro announced the impossibility of gaining economic growth, lack of liquidity (money), delays in trade payments allegedly due to drop in the prices of exports and less oil from Venezuela, during his speech at the National Assembly of the Popular Power on July 8th.. He determined that energy consumption and short-term credits would shrink, and priority wouble be given to investments in productions for export and substitution of imports, infrastructure and tourism.
The economy has been relying on net income from the export of services, i.e. medical personnel mainly to Venezuela, and Cuban’s remittances to relatives and friends. From the United States remittances were estimated up to 3 billion dollars in 2015. Speeding economic changes, lifting restrictions to self-employment, ending tight State control, simplifying legislation, and opening civil society to all are urgently needed. The atmosphere is warming up without possible persuasion about enemy maneuvers. Raul Castro reaches 10 years in power on July 31th, he is 84 years old and Cuba is on the verge of the precipice.