If this country needs a “Revolution” it is not in industry but in Human Rights / Angel Santiesteban

The New Container Terminal at the Mariel Special Development Zone

There is no economy without liberty

The last visit by the Brazilian ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to the Mariel Container Terminal, accompanied by the dictator Raul Castro — in order to learn of the advances of the large-scale work carried out thanks to a credit awarded by his country, and which began during his first term — was totally wrongheaded.

Raul Castro, Lula da Silva, Fidel Castro

Lula da Silva committed several errors; the first was, according to what he said to the press after the tour through the finished areas, that the terminal “represents for this country the possibility of an industrial revolution.”  We totally disagree given that this country, if it needs a “Revolution,” it is not in industry but in Human Rights, because of the deep and complex violations of the same, and in particular, against the political opposition.

One must recognize that the social achievements of the Castro brothers, in power for more than half a century, are not sustained or justified when the price for them has been the loss of freedom of association and free expression.  The magnitude of their punishments, prisons and deaths, has been and is immense.

Another blunder by Lula da Silva was to assert that — after the completion of construction of said container terminal — “now we just need to overturn the American blockade so that Cuba can full develop itself.”  Mr. Lula da Silva, no industry will be prosperous while a totalitarian regime commands it because wealth itself is in human beings, in those to whom it falls to stimulate that development, and we have spent exactly 55 years in frank decline because we Cubans are not happy.  One pretends to be happy because the cruel boot of the repressive machinery of the Castro brothers is ready to crush everyone who raises a voice against their omnipotent power.

It is no secret that the Castro brothers, for decades, bet on armed struggle in the world, advising and investing our economy in it, which is why today it is so badly battered and unhealthy.  But for the last 20 years, on learning that the times were changing, they began to sponsor leftist revolutions with which to bring future presidents to those countries, hence the appreciation of these on their arrival to power, a regional variant of the Cosa Nostra.

The greatest good that Cubans can wish for is that principled nations refuse to negotiate and use that marvelous terminal until they restore our rights and we Cubans determine, in free elections, who will be the leader to govern our nation’s destiny.

Meanwhile, not a thousand terminals like the Mariel will be able to wipe away the tears of the families and make the national economy prosper.

Sign the petiton to Amnesty International to declare Angel Santiesteban a political prisoner.

Translated by mlk.

5 March 2014


One response to “If this country needs a “Revolution” it is not in industry but in Human Rights / Angel Santiesteban

  1. omar fundora

    Investors find Cuba particularly attractive because it has the public infrastructure for an export-driven economy helped by its location along the Caribbean transit corridor and it has the strong potential for a surge in domestic consumption (one currency in 2015/16 will shift the Transition into high gear).

    But there’s also skepticism from many countries that Cuba can make the transition to a successful business model in a smooth and orderly fashion, with expectations that any democratic reform in Cuba will only be gradual and may be dependent on economic growth. Presently, foreign investment is trickling in, still relatively minute at $1.5 billion.

    The economy also is in relatively poor shape, with an official 2013 growth rate of 2.7 percent, compared to the target of 3.6 percent. Foreign investment fell below projections, too, missing the target by nearly 15 percent, growing at a disappointing 7.1 percent. Foreign direct investment was only 8 percent of the economy, explaining the Cuban government’s concern about boosting those numbers.

    Much of the political and legal framework for this expected foreign interest has been set in place and will culminate this March with the much anticipated approval of a thorough overhaul of foreign investment rules and a sweeping economic paradigm shift.

    Cuba’s Transition plans also call for decreasing public spending.

    Currently, Cuba’s problem is that it has the welfare state of a northern European country – offering its people quality health care, housing and educational opportunities – but an economy that is inadequate to sustain those programs into the future. Cuba’s economic model has produced a highly qualified labor force but operates under a state-controlled economy that can’t provide the necessary job opportunities.

    According to many analysts, the state needs to spend less while increasing revenue from other sources, all while improving local productivity and maintaining political stability. With little access to credit, Cuba’s only real choice is to seek foreign investment, public and private.

    Addressing legislators in December, Raúl Castro called for the extraordinary March vote on revamping Cuba’s economic model, saying “you have to strengthen the country’s capacity to generate many of the products that we currently import.”

    Brazil’s Odebrecht is negotiating a contract for foreign administrator in Cuba’s once prized sugar cane industry, a deal which is already working as a template for the vital agriculture sector. Earlier this month, a British company announced a similar but much smaller deal in the coffee industry.

    A major drawback for investors is that the state will retain control of labor, which basically means companies will pay standard wages in dollar currency and the Cuban government will deliver a fraction of the equivalent in pesos to employees, acting as a labor middleman. This arrangement exists on top of high social security taxes.

    Analysts say Cuba will soon have to reform its labor rules, but it needs to first narrow the current abyss between the dollar-earning and peso-earning Cubans. Investors, in any case, will demand terms that don’t condemn projects to the same inefficiency that plagues state-owned enterprises, including the agriculture sector.

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