Cuba: ‘Lessons in socialism’ lead to lessons in contradictions

I have often wondered if those who report on the so-called reforms of the brutally repressive Castro dictatorship in Cuba as positive and hopeful suffer from incurable ignorance or are simply and maliciously allowing themselves to be mouthpieces of the Cuban regime. For certain we know the latter do exist (i.e. “Cuba Experts” and Castro agents in the U.S. masquerading as “scholars”), but for many of the journalists who continue to laud the Castro regime’s farcical reforms as a harbinger of good things to come in Cuba, it would seem they suffer from an extremely severe case of ignorance.

A case in point is this recently published report in Time magazine by Dan Kadlec where he exuberantly describes the Castro dictatorship’s announced economic reforms as an unequivocal shift away from complete government control and towards individual freedom. After extolling the virtues of dictator Raul Castro’s economic “reforms” in the first three paragraphs,  Kadlec trots out his first example; a young, Cuban “entrepreneur” using Castro’s new “liberalization” to his advantage.

However, the problem with Kadlec’s example (and it is a huge problem), becomes all too apparent to everyone except strangely enough, Kadlec himself:

Lessons in Socialism: How Cuba Can Become Relevant Again

Havana, Cuba — In this once spectacular tropical city, three buildings collapse from neglect every single day. There has been little infrastructure investment in 50 years and the average worker earns $20 a month. By almost any economic measure, socialism under Fidel Castro has been an abject failure.

Yet things are beginning to change. Presumed to be ailing, Castro has handed power to his brother Raul, who is permitting modest levels of private enterprise and home ownership. Meanwhile, President Obama has eased U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba. Legal passage from the States has soared more than 10-fold in a decade. Most of the 600,000 U.S. residents expected to visit Cuba this year have family there, but conventional tourism is also on the rise as well. I was there in January on a people-to-people visa.

Critics worry that tourist dollars will prop up the failed socialist system and prolong its grip. But based on my trip, there’s reason to believe the opposite may prove to be the case: Spirited young entrepreneurs are rising from Havana’s rubble to take advantage of these small but important signs of economic liberalization.

I was introduced to this burgeoning new economic order in the person of a young entrepreneur I’ll call Javier.  (Javier did not ask that I not use his real name, but after speaking frankly with me about emerging Cuban business opportunities, Javier worried that he had made dangerous political statements. If he were judged to be subversive, his budding business career could be shut down in minutes.) [emphasis mine]

Dan Kadlec

So, as Kadlec’s explanation for not using “Javier’s” real name clearly demonstrates, it turns out the Cuban “entrepreneur’s” participation in the “burgeoning new economic order” is not as liberalizing as Kadlec infers. In fact, it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Cuba remains a totalitarian dictatorship that demands and maintains complete control over the people and the economy, refusing to tolerate any activity that will threaten its existence. In a clear and concise manner — albeit unintentional, I’m sure — Kadlec immediately contradicts his assessment that there are “important signs of economic liberalization” in Cuba by informing his readers that “Javier’s” business ventures will be shut down within minutes if the Cuban government learns of them.

In reality, the private businesses opening up in Cuba are not that much different from the private businesses that existed before the “reforms” of the Castro dictatorship. Cubans have been gaming the system for decades with a thriving black market and widespread corruption. The example Kadlec provides here is not an indication of the economy in Cuba liberalizing, it is an indication of  Cuban regime trying to get its piece of the action without loosing control and Cubans finding new ways to survive within the still strict and suffocating limits placed upon them by the Castro dictatorship.

What I find really astounding about this is not that Kadlec is parroting Castro propaganda — journalists do that all the time — but that he did not realize how within a span of two paragraphs, he completely contradicts himself and renders his argument and assessment completely worthless.

And to be clear, I do not consider Kadlec necessarily malicious, but I have no doubt he does suffer from incurable ignorance on matters regarding Cuba. I feel relatively comfortable about this assessment based on the fact that no one from the malicious Castro propaganda side would be dumb enough to contradict themselves so obviously.



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