As close as a tap on a keyboard

During a recent exchange between Cuban economists on social networks, Progreso Weekly collaborator, professor Ricardo Torres wrote: “The community of Cuban economists (mostly), many colleagues from other countries, and the leaders of allies from Asian countries, have warned us time and again of the impasse represented by Cuba’s current state of affairs. 

On a visit to Havana in 2018, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong, reminded us that “Vietnam has achieved great historical successes thanks to efforts to transform a centralized, planned and subsidized economy into a market economy with a socialist orientation.” But, says Torres, “there are many who insist on highlighting the uniqueness of Cuba. That Cuba cannot learn anything from others. The United States is 90 miles away. What a narrow, paralyzing and retarding vision!!!” 

Rightly so, according to our criteria.

The structural problems of the Cuban economy are real and present. They have not been fully and profoundly specified. These two qualities — discussed, rediscussed and analyzed over and over from one party congress to another — are pending. Tactical movements do not solve strategic problems.

The reasons for deferring them in time seem to respond to two things: (1) The magnitude of the comprehensiveness and depth needed could indicate a lack of consensus in policy-makers, hence the same topic has navigated through two congresses and more than 10 years — precious time wasted; and (2) The 90 miles that separate the powerful empire and Cuba serve as an argument to differentiate ourselves from the successful economic processes carried out by Vietnam and China.

Regarding the first, real life — in practice a criterion of truth — has been telling us in different ways for some time now that the country needs deep and comprehensive changes, not patchwork or partial answers.

As for the second, the 90 miles… it is worth noting that in today’s world, distances or physical proximity have been greatly reduced. Today’s world is measured in nanoseconds. Geography is reduced to a keystroke on a computer or smart phone. Governments push a button and rockets fly, or they have the capacity to block countries and people from their bank accounts, or make it very difficult to operate them, as is the current case with our currencies — unable to or trapped from transferring them to foreign banks.

Distance is no longer the problem. Almost everything is as close as a tap on a keyboard. Yet there are still those who use distance in geographic miles from the empire as an excuse. That is regrettable. And does not explain the situation.