Just mention the word Cuba to the US government and it draws forth an aggressive response. The raw nerve that has been touched is that a country espousing socialism, in its hemisphere, could have survived all attempts to bring the experiment crashing down. The wonder of wonders is that the imminent collapse gleefully anticipated with the demise of the Soviet Union, has not materialized. High technology propaganda, vicious extension of a 34-
Instead, Cuba seems to be passing the worse since the Soviet Union’s collapse, its own massive economic recession, especially since 1990, destructive acts of nature, loss and or weakness of markets in former communist states, and seems to be an economy and polity in transition. Additionally, it has made a tremendous number of friends who have been eagerly participating in assisting Cuba to make transition to a market-
None of these countries would have had these kinds of relations with Cuba of the 1960s or even the 1970s. Cuba is changing or has changed and only the USA seems willing to keep it ossified. The first decade of the Cuban revolution scared many countries in this hemisphere as it attempted to export "revolution" in Latin America. This policy, motivated by a desire to protect its own revolution, backfired since the US response to shore up military dictatorship and became implacable in its hostility to Cuba and Cuban allies.
Cuba in the Past (post 1959)
As a weak state it had engaged strong-
Nevertheless, in 1972, four Caribbean states (Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago), young in their independence from Britain, and taking advantage of Nixon’s rapproachment with China, established diplomatic relations with Cuba and entered into an air services agreement with Cuba. Generally, the Caribbean mood was support for non-
In the 1980s, Cuba CARICOM relations had subsided even further than during the late 1970s. It took another major international event, the ending of the Cold War, importantly signified by the collapse of the Soviet Union, to encourage countries in this hemisphere to re-
Democracy, USA, Cuba and the Anglophone Caribbean
Cuba was not invited to be a part of the hemispheric discussions at the Summit of the America’s meeting in Miami, in December, 1994. Cuba, having satisfied the long established USA requirements for the resumption of talks between the two countries, and having agreed on a set of immigration procedures, was nevertheless excluded from talks for which it was qualified by its geo-
The USA and our own Caribbean leaders will have us believe that democracy is some ready-
The USA, in relation to the Inter-
The massacre at Rio Negro is an example of this opprobrious behaviour where 70 women and 107 children met their deaths at the hand of the army. Indeed, the regime is generally regarded as one of the most racist and repressive regimes in the Americas, yet US regards it as a democracy more so than it regards Cuba. It holds "competitive" elections, yet the army still controls everything from supermarkets to banks to peasant agricultural production. Between 1978 and 1983 the Guatemalan armed forces and ‘voluntary’ civil defence patrols destroyed approximately 400 towns and villages, mostly of its indigenous peoples. Today, that process has not ended.
Throughout many so-
Our leaders can wish for Cuba to have western-
The authoritarian and insulting behaviour of our governments in not consulting with their citizens — ACS, Hemispheric Relations, and NAFTA entry continue an approach which has nothing to do with democracy.
Has Cuba really changed?
Cuba has withdrawn troops and military advisers from Angola and Ethiopia, disengaged from El Salvador, been shunted out of Grenada, Nicaragua and other places, and has no military associations now, or is likely to have any in the foreseeable future.
Politically, it no longer does or can export socialism. The temper of the times renders that impossible even if Cuba wished to and it no longer does. Within Cuba itself, there has been a sternly implemented policy that anyone leader or major manager over 50 years that has had six or more years of service at that level has to be replaced by younger persons, in their thirties.
This means a leadership in all areas has emerged which is far removed from the original revolution and its leaders. Although they are products of it, they are nevertheless fully capable of transcending the emotional and ideological attachment once held to be sacrosanct. This procedure, it must be conceded, has manifestly avoided the chaos and self-
Economically and managerially, the changes are astonishing and are still gathering pace. The changes can now be deemed irreversible. 1990 has been a significant point of departure from the old command economy and polity, although over a decade ago I had noted that Cuba was changing mood and direction. The pace from 1993 has been headlong toward a market-
The appointment of Roberto Robaina as Foreign Minister was significant. He could go about the Caribbean and Latin America confident that his government was moving away from a system of working with inventories to a system of national income accounting.
Cuba’s increasing participation with foreign businesses is determining the form its bureaucracy and economy take. 1993 was an extremely difficult year for the Cuban economy. Structural adjustment was forced upon it to reduce its budget deficit and provide conditions for doing business with Cuba. Since Cuba was forced out of the IMF and World Bank in the early 1960s, it has had, merci fully, to assume full responsibility for this.
Some of the measures include a newly authorised self-
A tremendous number of countries have rushed to establish economic and trading relations with Cuba. At the end of 1994, there were nearly 400 foreign companies established in Cuba, 165 joint ventures with foreign capital from 38 countries, and since 1990 foreign investments topped US $1.5 billion. Spain, Canada, France, Italy, Mexico and the UK were among the main countries dealing meaningfully with Cuba. Should not the Caribbean countries have been ahead of these?
Cuban development and the Caribbean
We cannot hide from the effects of Cuban development. Six new hotels will be built in six years by Amanecer Holding. Cuba has in excess of 22,600 hotel rooms. Contracts have been signed for a further 7,400 rooms, with 1,500 scheduled to start this year. This is a real challenge to our stop-
Cuba has been winning significant markets for its pharmaceuticals, several of which are of world market standards already. Medical equipment is finding good markets. A variety of beneficial arrangements have been made for the disposal of Cuban sugar in a variety of markets in return for a number of goods (including petroleum products) and services. A partner is being sought to complete and run the nuclear power plant in Cuba. When it becomes operational, it should give a considerable boost to Cuba’s manufacturing drive and reduce considerably its dependence on petroleum products. Cuba has a purchasing power in excess of US$ 2 billion in hard currency and our producers and service providers can exploit this possibility, but not if we wait any longer.
Prices of goods and services were sharply increased in May, 1994 to reduce the deficit and compete with the illegal market which was also putting considerable pressure on the peso in relation to the US dollar. Electricity attracted a new flat rate charge; rail fares were increased by 60 per cent; a small charge was imposed on water use; and cigarette prices were massively increased. However, in keeping with the social responsibility of government, areas left untouched by these price increases were and education -
For better or for worse, the initial administrative response has been the expansion of ministries to 27 and institutes to live. This was in order to create new economic ministries replacing state committees -
All in all the CARICOM/Cuba Commission was probably based upon such assessments and the Heads of Government are to be congratulated in persevering with their efforts to make it work perfectly. US opposition has been strong but a distinction should always be made between President Clinton’s actual policies and those of’ the new Republican party dominated Congress. Jesse Helms and his cohort of congressional support in both Houses will continue to be nuisances and threaten Caribbean exclusion from material benefits from the US as a donor government and free trade arrangements with the USA.
However, other processes are likely to overwhelm such backwardness -
Full diplomatic accreditation and powers, on behalf of all CARICOM countries, perhaps individually given since there is no sovereign Caribbean, must be granted to the Secretary-
(Dr. Neville C. Duncan is Political Scientist, UWI, Cave Hill, Barbados)