In an effort to keep track of the macroeconomic and social plans of the Cuban government, I’ve been perusing the Final Declaration of the Eighth Summit of ALBA (Granma, Tuesday, December 15th, 2009). I reread it, fearing that amid all the fanfare surrounding “ALBA’s unquestionable progress” (?!!!), my tired eyes had missed what was most important: those agreements which, derived from the deep analyses of such illustrious statesmen, will result in getting our nations out of their economic problems, in particular Cuba, mired in a deep and irreversible crisis that, in conjunction with the still so-called “Cuban revolution”, trapped us almost 51 years ago. Then I discovered it: there it was, discreetly placed at number 14, an agreement which contains a world of speculation: “To provide the utmost support to boost the technical work in the action plan and regulations that would allow to soon implement the System of Compensation Unit, SUCRE.
Of course, the statement per se says nothing. We cannot understand wording without knowing to what “technical work” it refers, nor what the “action plan and regulations” might be, that is, they are informing us about how misinformed we are about what it suggests -neither more nor less- the implementation of a new regional currency. No wonder people on the street are speculating that soon there will be a change in the currency, and that only one currency will begin to circulate in place of the regular peso and the CUC. The prevailing feeling is uncertainty: every change in recent decades has been for the worse. On the other hand, nobody is quite clear how it will be possible to unify the currency at the most critical moment of the Cuban economy, when there is no longer any production and, in fact, there isn’t the least vestige of a superstructure left to tear down. This is a country in ruins.
So, if we are dealing with a change in currency, and taking into account the wretched condition of the member countries of the flaming Bolivarian Alliance, Chavez’s petrodollars would be the only letter of relative guarantee to back the new currency. The much-proclaimed SUCRE, an opponent of the U.S. dollar in the region would, therefore, be the “surrogate” currency. And then, in my infinite ignorance of economics, I ask myself wherein lies the benefit with regard to the much sought after “independence” of Cuba? What advantage could be accomplished by ceasing to depend on the U.S. dollar to be at the mercy of Venezuelan SUCRE? (because it undeniably belongs to that country) After 51 years, could it be considered an advance in economic sovereignty with respect to the foremost world power to switch to plainly depend on a third world country? I have the sneaky suspicion that I am missing something in this whole affair, and that “something” definitely smells fishy.
Finally, if in 10 years of Castro-Chavez compromises the Cuban peoples have not yet perceived the advertised benefits of the numerous agreements signed, we have instead seen our health services impaired and the quality of all levels of education fail, just to cite the two items most rubbed in our faces by the regime. How many more decades of suffering are waiting to be endured so we can attend the much-heralded dawn? I say this because I have already spent 50 years listening to the same promises of a future that has turned out more slippery than an eel, but it just so happen that I -as opposed to “Constitution Socialism” am not eternal.
*ALBA, meaning dawn, is an acronym for Bolivarian (Venezuelan) Alliance of the Peoples of America