Fidel Castro’s “Reflections” published today, titled “Self-criticism of Cuba” (English here), begins with a discussion of student work brigades and ends with a long call for belt-tightening and conservation of resources. In between, it includes a three-paragraph comment on income inequality in
Where does the inequality come from? Castro cites three examples.
First, Cubans in some enterprises receive incentive-based bonus pay in hard currency. This has not always been done legally, he points out, without making clear if he is referring to state enterprises or joint ventures with foreign investors.
Second, some receive remittances from abroad in hard currency – “something which is not illegal, but at times creates inequality and irritating privileges.”
Third, there are those who make large profits in black-market transportation activities. From earlier speeches, I assume he means unlicensed taxi drivers.
The result, Castro says, is that the “real and visible lack of equality and the lack of relevant information gives rise to criticism, above all in the neediest sectors.”
And the problem with this, he goes on to imply, is that those who have higher incomes nonetheless receive subsidized government services. But those services and their subsidies will continue as a matter of commitment, Castro says, and because “we are not a consumer society.”
Fair enough. I too would look askance, in
But another way of looking at all this is to say that
Cuban policymakers are aware of this challenge and there is some public discussion of it.
We’ll see. I have no doubt that this debate will continue, and my guess is that it will frame the major decisions of the post-Fidel Castro government.