Cuba April 14, 2017Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
As such, the nightclub epitomises the changes taking place in a country that is undergoing arguably its biggest transformation since the revolution that brought the communists to power in 1959.
Although the economy remains centrally planned, a series of reforms, known as the lineamientos económicos (guiding economic policies), initiated by president Raúl Castro in 2011, have loosened the state’s grip in certain sectors, resulting in a spike in private business ownership and a tourism explosion.
New privately owned cafes and restaurants are appearing all over Havana’s old town, their pristine interiors and long menus in contrast to the drab décor and bland food of the state-owned cafeterias.
According to Rafael Hernandez, founder and editor of Temas magazine, a cultural journal that publishes critical perspectives on various aspects of Cuban life, recent changes were a response to social pressure.
“When Raúl Castro took over in 2008, he said, ‘Okay, the private sector is not a concession to capitalist ideas, this is part of the socialist family’.”
It was not difficult to convince people of that, Hernandez suggests. After all, he says, tens of thousands of private businesses operated in Cuba in the first decade of the revolution and were accepted as consistent with the country’s model of socialism.
Yet he insists the path the government has embarked on will not lead to a market-driven economy.
“Anything can happen, but I see nothing that indicates to me that that is going to happen. This is not China. This is not Vietnam. I don’t see any signal from the Cuban leadership, or in the Cuban public debate, about throwing the socialist system out the window.
“This is about trying change it – to transform it into a mixed economy where the state prevails but where the private sector operates, particularly in those areas where the private sector is efficient. So, we will not privatise healthcare. We will not privatise education. I don’t think we will privatise big industry.”
It will be interesting to see how this functions. A state that broadens the space for individual and collective autonomy in the economic field seems to me to be a positive. The balance between these factors – autonomy, state, individual and collective get to the heart of left projects. That we live in a world where experimentation in this regard (unlike on the right of the socio-economic and political spectrum) is so limited is profoundly disheartening – objectively we need to see more, not less, testing of these approaches. Some, probably many, will fail. But some may not and the opportunity to take the best where appropriate is pivotal. If Cuba can forge way towards a positive approach where these factors are upheld as fully as possible that would be a remarkable achievement.
The further challenge is integrating that into the political sphere.