Citizens… Time To Tighten Your Belts

Raúl Castro will preside this January over his first parade, similar to the one shown here, without the shadow of his brother. (EFE / Archive)

Raúl Castro will preside this January over his first parade, similar to the one shown here, without the shadow of his brother. (EFE / Archive)

14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 29 December 2016 – My generation knows no good news. We grew up with the grey subsidies of the rationed market, we reached puberty amid the rigors of the Special Period, we raised our children in a country with two currencies, and now they warn us that times of economic stress are coming. It appears there is no respite from this long sequence of disasters, collapses and cuts that we have suffered for decades.

This December the National Assembly of People’s Power acknowledged the negative numbers that reality made clear long ago: Cuba is not growing, production is not recovering, and the so-call Raulist reforms have not given citizens a better life. The island is heading toward the abyss of defaults, cuts in vital sectors of the economy, and continued stagnation.

In other places, the rulers would resign before the panorama facing this nation, due – in great measure – to bad management. However, since the general president did not win office by a popular vote, no one can punish him at the ballot boxes in the next elections. To the opposition that has demanded his departure, the iron fist of repression and punishment is always applied.

Instead of a mea culpa, the officials who, on Tuesday, detailed the economic debacle and in somber tones said it will continue in the coming year, have called for greater productivity, a reduction in superfluous expenses, and using the so-called “efficiency reserves,” the final official euphemism used to explain what little remains in the national treasury.

However, a few hours after concluding the parliamentary session in which such bad omens were unveiled, the second of the three planned test runs began – Friday will be the third – for the huge military parade that will be staged in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution on 2 January. A mass gathering, with parades of war tanks and soldiers marching in lockstep, that will cost Cuba hundreds of thousands of pesos, if not millions.

The traffic on the capital’s most important arteries has been paralyzed as of the early morning hours of yesterday, Wednesday. Thousands of state employees didn’t have to complete their workday, and a long line of buses had to travel from various municipalities to the parade grounds. Countless snacks were distributed among the most faithful participants in what is coming to be seen as a “Raulist coronation.” The younger brother has planned his own investiture in power, now on his own, after the death of the former president Fidel Castro.

Why this waste of military resources in the middle of the crisis that the country is going through? Such delusions of grandeur are not consistent with the 0.9% decline in GDP this year. This military parade, with its boasts of strength and a “baring of teeth,” will squander some of the resources needed to repair the deteriorated roads of the island, to give just one example.

In this city that has suffered serious cuts in public lighting, where the last-hour bus terminal have been overwhelmed before the lack of interprovincial transport, and where a pound of pork costs up to two day’s wages, what will take place this coming Monday is far beyond wastefulness, it is a sign of lack of respect.

And so, there are certain politicians. They call – for the umpteenth time – for a tightening of belts and a reduction in the expectations for a better life, while they waste enormous quantities of national resources playing at war.

6 thoughts on “Citizens… Time To Tighten Your Belts

  1. Perhaps Ex President Obama can come to Cuba to help the economy. He will be looking for a job in 3 weeks. Discuss the effect of the return of the US embassy in Havana ( if any ).Watch out for US companies wanting to exploit the Cuban people. Keep up the good work Y.

  2. I agree with you that the good citizens of Cuba deserve better conditions. And it does seem anachronistic for the government to have a celebration parade showing their armed might when the rest of the world is fighting on a economic battlefield using tariffs and cyber war tactics.

  3. Dave Davis, normalization of relations between the USA and the Castro dictatorship will not improve things. The regime advocates communism as a core value, it evolved as a military dictatorship which commits serious human rights abuses, and it won’t let go of power merely because American tourists go to Varadero and buy rum and cigars.

    I assume you realize communism always brings dictatorship and misery, and dictatorships lacks feedback mechanisms, so eventually they destroy themselves and the countries they rule, because they are mired in corruption, misgovernance, and the ills caused by citizen apathy and brain drain.

    We must keep in mind that repression and abuse have increased since Obama started his new approach towards the Castro dictatorship. And this move, which is seen by Raúl and his red oligarchy as sanction and legitimization of their misrule, has encouraged others to copy the Castros. Today we see a nearly genocidal Nicolás Maduro moving fast towards hard core dictatorship. Ortega and Morales aren’t very far behind, and communists all over Latinamerica are becoming more intransigent and willing to use violence.

    I can’t imagine what was in Obama’s head when he failed to account for the influence the Castro dictatorship has over Venezuela and other emerging autocracies. I can see the media and the public following along, that’s human nature. But a USA president ought to know better.

  4. Pingback: Citizens… Time To Tighten Your Belts « How to s..t on humans

  5. As an American, I can only hope for normalization of relations. The world may not be fond of America, but our culture gives hope. My hope is change comes your way.

  6. Pingback: me + Cuba + Fidel Castro + Richard Armitage | Me + Richard Armitage

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