Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Well, it seems that change has finally come to Cuba...well it also came some 19 months ago (and if we really want to go back, it also came some 49 years ago). The Cuban-American community literally danced in the streets. And now, 19 months later, we see that few substantial changes have actually been made. Consequently, we learned from our premature celebration of the July 31st before last, and did not parade down Calle Ocho.

Reasons for the lack of change under Raul have abounded. As is the case with anything Cuba related of the past 50 years, we can probably blame Fidel. His presence as the 500 lb gorilla (not to be confused with guerrilla) in the room did not go unnoticed. It's hard to make legitimate changes with the shadow of El Comandante lingering, at least I'd think so. So Raul and the rest have made some low-key changes that might have some significant affects, especially down the line. They are working on the three main concerns of the Cuban people (here, breakfast, lunch, and dinner all fall under #1). To increase the accessibility of food, they are motivating farmers to grow more. They are increasing the prices paid to producers and lending them land to cultivate how they please. They are also toying with incentives to move people back into the countryside to produce food.

For concern #2, the government has spent the past year trying to solve Cuba's transportation problem, they've ordered a plethora of new buses from China (typical central planning mistake--they ordered the buses with no AC and, oh yeah, the windows were sealed shut), so after some much needed renovations, the buses are now en route. There is also a new law about how a taxi driver needs to give someone a lift if going in the same direction, but this is difficult to enforce, try as they might. Regardless, the situation is getting a little better. There has also been a major investment by Iran to renovate Cuba's train system and improve transportation between Havana and Cuba's other provinces.

Concern #3, housing, is a little tricker. While Raul is trying to increase efficiency, which will certainly help in construction, effects from this (if any) will likely not be felt until he is not around to see the change. The only major thing that I think has happened here is that Venezuela constructed and donated 100 houses to Cienfuegos. So, this isn't really change brought by Raul, but it is an improvement.

Socially, the new government seems to have unofficially killed the death penalty. There also appears to be a trend of not sentencing political opponents to long prison sentences, but instead having a catch-and-release type of intimidation for said opponents. Let's hope it won't work.

Again, these changes are barely significant now, but hey, it's change.

Change has come. Change is not enough.

Cuba needs political, social, and economic openings. I think that what truly needs to change is the fear that people feel. People must be allowed to do (so long as it hurts no one), say, and think whatever they feel, without fear of government or government induced reprisal. Once this happens, Cubans will be well on their way to living in freedom.


Mickey said...

Thank you for this much needed blog of yours. For Cuba it's already time for change. Change has come. It's not enough yes but, it's a start in the right direction.

I'm looking forward to more of your posts.

Al Godar said...

I have included your blog in my list of : Blogs Sobre Cuba
Al Godar