Cuba singing the '60th anniversary' blues
In a few days, appointed Presidente Miguel Díaz-Canel will oversee the 60th anniversary of what they call "la revolución."
Historians will note that this is the first time that a non-Castro will deliver the big speech. On the other hand, economists will tell you that the regime has little to show or boast about.
In other words, 60 years of "revolución" have been great for Castro, Inc. and the party elite who send their wives to shop in Montreal or Mexico City.
The rest of Cuba lives in a different reality, or a "Special Period" that never stops.
For those not familiar with Cuba, the regime calls it a "special period" any time there's unusual economic adversity. The first "special period" was in the 1970s, then again in the 1990s, when the USSR collapsed. Unfortunately for Cubans, the "special periods" don't stop! It's one after another!
This is the latest from the Cuban economy, according to the Miami Herald:
Cuba's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by slightly more than 1 percent in 2018 but the growth "still does not help the people like what we need," Díaz-Canel told the National Assembly at year's end. The government predicted a 1.5 percent GDP growth in 2019, but its figures are not comparable to the rest of the world because Cuba includes spending on health, education and social services.
"Cuba's productive machinery does not totally collapse, but it also doesn't create economic progress in the last 30 years," economist Pavel Vidal wrote in an article published on the digital site, Cuba Posible.
The island has still not recovered from the withering economic crisis in the 1990s known as the Special Period, Vidal added, "but it must be acknowledged that it is a system that has proven to be effective at managing the crisis and avoiding economic collapse, just as it has been 'effective' at limiting private initiative, innovation and increases in productivity.
"It is a system that holds the record for the lowest levels of investment in Latin America," he added.
Díaz-Canel's recent visits to Russia, China, Vietnam and other Asian countries – with stops in the United Kingdom and France – also did not bring the expected benefits. For 2019, the confirmed foreign investments will account for barely 6.2 percent of all planned investment in the country.
So Presidente Díaz-Canel is having trouble selling Cuba to foreign investors? Wonder why!
Díaz-Canel faces a difficult challenge. You can't reform Cuba without admitting that the whole system is a failure. You can't improve the lives of Cubans without dumping the system.
My guess is that the lack of "foreign investment enthusiasm" in Cuba is a sign that most countries know that the end is coming.
Another "aniversario" comes, and the band will play the usual "revolutionary" tunes about standing up to "el imperialismo" – the way they refer to the U.S.
Based on what they tell me, most Cubans are not paying attention at all.
How much longer can this madness go on? I've been wrong before, but we are down to the end.