Cubalse and General Motors

On June first what everyone predicted was confirmed: General Motors declared bankruptcy.  National television aired reports on the fallen giant while in our streets the old models, from fifty years ago, are still rolling.  The tall silver tower that houses the headquarters of the firm has become the symbol of the current global economic crisis.  Within Cuba there are other signs of these bad times: the blackouts return, tourists are scarce and public transport suffers another cutback.  Financial shares don’t crash because they don’t exist; companies hide their bankruptcies because being state-owned they don’t report their finances to the public.

Another business conglomerate fell apart on our side, but the national news avoided mentioning it.  The powerful CUBALSE, which had among its powers that of employing those who work in embassies and diplomatic residences, has just disappeared.  Even the most absent-minded Cuban knows that to be a gardener at an embassy or a manager at a foreign exchange store you have to pass a powerful ideological filter and, in certain cases, monetarily reward those who select the staff.  CUBALSE had been a pioneer in selling in convertible currency in a country where the majority are paid in Cuban pesos, its employees seeming to be a mix between capitalist entrepreneurs and soldiers in a commercial army.

A discrete document detailed the dismemberment of the Company for the Provision of Services to Foreigners, whose pieces went to other institutions.  A whole structure of powers, loyalties and personal interests must have come crashing down when they announced the death of this “small giant.”  The requiem was played in hushed tones, however, so as not to unduly alarm us.  We don’t need to look at the collapse of General Motors to make unnecessary comparisons, to conclude that this is happening not only outside our borders, but also within them.


10 thoughts on “Cubalse and General Motors

  1. Great article Yoani, as usual, the idiots in the Cuban government are beating their chests, like ignorant apes, not understanding what is happening.

    Let me clarify. General Motors has just declared bankruptcy (in legal lingo, filed for chapter 11) but this does not necessarily mean they are going out of business. In fact General Motors has gone bankrupt twice before in their hundred plus year history.

    The truth is that this bankruptcy is the best thing that could happen to this company at this time. For starters, this organization was terribly mismanaged and not competitive. The top managers were out of touch with what was happening in the market, and were just treating the company like a cash cow, with little thought to future planning. In addition everyone was overpaid across board which meant they were eating their investment capital, leaving little for R&D, future planning, new competitive models, etc.

    What will now happen is that the President, CEO, and board of directors of the company, will all be replaced with fresh blood, a cleansing so to speak. Future stock holders would not want the same old guard since they will loose the value of their stock as the previous owners did. New people who have come of age in the current era, and who are ready and savvy of high tech and the new market culture, will be taking over at GM. The new managers, a new generation, who are ten times smarter than the people who were there before.

    Not bad ah? Actually very good for the U.S. economy as GM starts making better, more efficient vehicles that I and others would want to buy. This event repeats itself thousands of times every year, recession or not, involving many businesses of all sizes large and small. Again, in a free market, if you do not produce something that someone else wants to buy, you either change your product or you are out as a viable business. This is what provides dynamism, and forward momentum to the free enterprise system. Contrast this with the the following:

    The dinosaurs, coma-andante and his brethren before him, defeated over and over at every game, can’t grasp what is happening here. They don’t have the brains, skills, humility to realize what small living creatures they are. Their only claim to victory as Yoani says, is “their enduring hold on power”, mostly through fear. Their sick egos can’t fathom how the free enterprise system gets stronger with every drawback, renews itself and grows bigger. Cacooned as they are in their stupid ideology, they lack the education and knowledge to understand and change with the times.

  2. I find your blog to be so educational from a sociocultural standpoint. I am an outsider looking in with interest and empathy. Learning about the Cuban culture is a way to appreciate the freedoms we have in America.
    Similarly, we are noticing the ravages of greed, as the scavengers scrap for remains. To the smallest parcel goes the neediest.

  3. This is so typical of Cuba’s news media. They are always pointing the bad elsewhere but ignoring their own troubles that is why they have so many!
    That is why it is so important for the press to be independent from the government so that it can function properly.

  4. Statue of Liberty:

    I was not one of them, but I met a lot of them while I was living in Canada in the middle of the 80’s!!!!,,,that is the reason why I know about all those facts, because in Cuba, during those years, “almost nobody” knew how many of them were defecting, because to talk about it, in Cuba, was “a tabu”, their families knew everything about them, how well were treated by the Canadian Government, but, talking about that was very dangerous!!!!,,was something like saying some kind of propaganda against the Revolution, or Fidel, or pushing others to do the same thing then, nobody did talk about it.

    In top of that, because you could not talk with them, in Cuba, then, nobody knew the kind of work that they were doing, just after they defected, then they were able to talk freely, then, just the people around, like me, in other word “free people too”, were able to know the real face about the “slave work” that they were doing in the old communist countries of Europe.

    Believe it or not,,,,but it is the reality,,,was, and will be like that until Castro and his Maffiosa gang are in power!!!!!!!!!!!


  5. Yoanis, the situation is very bad, but, by the way, now, that you spoke about CUBALSE, came to mind another old Cuban Company, named CUBATECNICA (created and lasted from 70s-80s), who was in charge to find “workers” to do the slave job that the people from the ex communist countries from Europe, did no want to do it.

    I remember that CUBATECNICA was able to contract young Cubans that were ready to go to Germany, Poland, Soviet Union, etc, etc, to do some kind of ” Technical Labor”!!!!, something as Technical Boiler Employee, or Industrial Electricity Employee, etc, etc,, but, the reality was, that Technical Boiler Employee was shovel coal to boiler, and The Industrial Electricity Employee was loaded onto the wires and poles!!!!,,,in other words,,,the jobs that the people of Germany, Soviet Union, Poland, etc, etc,,, did not want do it, because the salary was too low, or were so dangerous, etc, etc, was assigned to those young Cubans, which only to be able to travel outside of Cuba, or, to learn a new language, or to buy some clothing, or a motorcycle, they had the disposition to go until hell if it was necessary !!!!!

    Most of them returning back to Cuba for vacations after two years working as slaves, were defecting in Gander, Canada, at the moment that their planes landed in that airport,,,,all of them were looking for freedom!!!,,and they found it!!!!!!



    For those who dont know who Reinaldo Arenas was, check out two films, one a documentary and the other a Hollywood film which got Javier Bardem his first
    oscar nomination “Before Night Falls” for “best actor” and the other “Improper Conduct-Mauvaise Conduite. You should rent them and see them in one night for it will give you a very vivid picture of the labor/concentration camps for dissidents, jehovah’s witness and homosexuals that were common in Cuba. Some of my favorites on that documentary are of course Reinaldo Arenas, Guillermo Cabrera Infante but check out the black drag queen “Caracol” (shell) living in NY and the heavy set gay man who is HISTERICAL when he discribes Fidel visiting the camps as like a “Contessa” in his JEEP!!FUNNY AND SAD BUT THAT IS THE CUBAN WAY UNDER COMMUNISM!!

    Improper Conduct-wikipedia Conduite

    Before Night Falls-film

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