Friday, April 6, 2012

The threat of Carlos Saladrigas

Here is a talk delivered by Carlos Saladrigas of the Cuban Study Group at a Havana seminary shortly after Benedict’s visit.  It was hosted by the publication Espacio Laical, creator of the public forum in Cuba that draws an audience of more diverse points of view than any other.

He discusses a transformation taking place among Cubans outside Cuba, one that coincides with his own – from a child sent away from Cuba and his family in the infamous Peter Pan program, rarely looking back, to an adult preoccupied with his homeland now; from an opponent of Cuban-American pilgrimages to see Pope John Paul II in Havana in 1998, to one who traveled eagerly to see Benedict there last month.

Building on Benedict’s homily messages to beware of those who claim to hold the absolute truth, he chided political figures in Cuba and in Miami who do just that.  He called them “hysterical.” 

He rejected the idea that Cuba is poor.  Entrepreneur that he is, he talked about the wealth of human capital that he sees.  If he were 25 today, he said, there is no way he would leave Cuba, given the changes beginning there now.

He made no grand prescriptions except to call on Cubans there and here to work for a “new, free, sovereign, inclusive” Cuba in a spirit of tolerance and faith.  And perhaps with some sober optimism.

This, of course, bothered many in Miami. 

For starters, he put himself on the side of those who want to build bridges rather than walls between our two countries. 

Worse, he and many others are asserting that good works are being done in Cuba, and it is possible for people outside to assist. 

Anywhere else, that idea is a noble impulse.  In the 305 area code, it’s a terrible threat to el exilio’s concept of staying here, insisting from afar that the regime fall, and working mainly through the government in Washington to accomplish that end. 

But the idea is taking hold and it is changing Miami, not so much at the ballot box, but family by family as each new connection and each new little bridge gets built. 

Here’s coverage of the talk from the Washington Post and the BBC.


Anonymous said...

The basic fact is that the ruling Cuban elite is caught in the horns of a dilemma.

On one hand it needs the return to Cuba of the Cuban American businessmen to established a successful mixed economy, provide productive employment and to be able to develop the country successfully in the middle of a competitive global economy.

On the other hand the nomenklatura fears their return, because they are afraid that after seizing economic power in the island the returning bourgeoisie will attempt to take away its political power.

So therefore it tries to adopt halfway measures, opening the door a crack, so that the bourgoisie can return to the island as a junior partner under its strict control so that it can contribute to economic advancement but without becoming a threat to its rule.

The problem is under those conditions the external Cuban bourgoisie would not find it stimulating to return to the island in large enough volume to make a significant difference as to its economic performance.

Some sort of a power sharing formula must be found to make a successful return of the external Cuban bourgeousie to the island under non violent conditions.

The internal elite must be willing to in some way share political power with the external elite in exchange for a share of economic power, for an opportunity to transition from being a nomenklatura to a neobourgeousie.

Once that succesful formula is found the Gordian Knot of Cuban politics will be cut, the external Cuban elite will return to its homeland, the right wing extremists in the US will be isolated and weakened and the US government would agree to a gradual negotiated lifting of the embargo.

Anonymous said...

The basic obstacle to this situation lies in the senior circles of the Cuban government who are worried that the necessary reforms could lead to their overthrowal and to the end of their privileges.

The basic outline of the country's non violent solution to its economic and political crisis is evident to all analysts without vested interests,

1- Amnesty for all pasts political crimes to all but the most recalcitrant of the exile community.
2- A path for amnesty for those initially excluded in return for their acceptance of their past behavior and repentance for it and the promise to not continue to engage in them and to participate in democratic reforms.
3- Elimination of political crimes from the criminal code.
4- Immigration and emmigration reform. Allowing all Cubans living abroad and in the island to enter it, and leave it at will.
5- Making the Cuban peso convertible.
6- Allowing free enterprise and market relations to take place in the island without unnecessary government restrictions and excessive taxation.
7- Allowing government control of the economy to occur at the macroeconomic level through fiscal, monetary and exchange controls.

All this could be reached without sacrificing the social aspects of government expenditure in education, health, social security and in law enforcement and public administration.

The basic problem is that the group interests of the ruling elite are being placed before those of the Cuban nation as a whole.

National reconciliation and the creation of an efficient nation state capable of competing in a global economy should be prioritized.

While this is not accomplished Cuba will continue to suffer an uninterrupted crisis.


Anonymous said...

Lo siento, Claro, pero si está cantando claramente, no va. Government control of the Cuban economy has never worked in the past and will not ever work in the future. It ensures that the vast potential of human capital resident on the island will never work to its potential. It ensures price controls, which chokes the aspects of a free marketplace to which they are applied. The Cuban people are starving. The first place to apply price controls will be in the food markets, and Cuban food production MUST START IMMEDIATELY if not sooner. So initial prices are high. They cannot stay that way forever as more producers (y tal more supply) appears in the marketplace. Yes, the Cuban government must have its own currency and fiscal and monetary policy to go with it. But Cuba has also been ravaged by over 50 years of thievery disguised as "fiscal policy". If we can find a foreign currency (no, I do not suggest the USD, as its collapse is pending) for the people to use while non-fiat stocks of valuables are stored with which to back the new Cuban currency, then I would suggest that this policy be undertaken. Go slow. The Cuban people are not used to such freedoms. No, they are not stupid -- just starved and terrorized. Otherwise, I am in complete agreement with you. Would YOU trust a Cuban government the week after the Castros die or leave?