Obviously, I am not wild about an organization called the US Black Chamber of Commerce, basically the main organization of Black capitalists in the US.
However, for a CoC organization, the Black CoC seems remarkably progressive. They laud Cuba’s health care and education system. And they also attack the 53 years of attacks that US imperialism (really the armed and political wing of the US rich and US capitalism, let’s face it), whereas most CoC’s in the US despise any government action in education and health care and support the anti-Cuba actions of US imperialism.
So the US Black CoC is an interesting group.
Obviously, I don’t like the title of this essay. It implies that Cuba has never been on the road to success before. Apparently it’s been on the road to failure. Now that a market has been opened up, apparently the way to success can finally begin, 53 years after 1959. Ridiculous.
Furthermore, the article is silly. If Cuba goes all the way over to neoliberal capitalist system Alford seems to be advocating, you can kiss goodbye to that world class medical care and education. Cuba will have the finest education and medical care that money can buy, no doubt, but the vast majority will not be able to afford any of it.
It is true that markets are great at wealth creation as long as they are properly regulated and fine-tuned. They’re lousy about distributing the wealth, but that’s where the powerful Cuban state comes in. The Cuban market, properly tuned and regulated, will develop wealth, and then the state will distribute it in various ways. This is already being done. Taxes on palaveres, or home restaurants, are very steep, around $150-200/month minimum, no matter how few customers you have! As Cuban small businessmen hire employees beyond a certain number, they find their taxes rapidly rising. Apparently the state, properly so, wants to keep Cuban businesses small. Small business = good, big business = bad. That’s a pretty good formula.
It’s true that there is a need for 600,000 new homes in Cuba. The state is broke and can’t afford to build them. So that leaves it up to the market to build these homes. Who will build them? Who knows?
What might be nice would be to see cooperative construction companies springing. The companies would be nothing more than Cuban construction workers coalescing together to form cooperatives to build needed homes.
There would be no bosses. So the workers would own the means of production for construction industry. These same cooperatives could also be used to renovate existing homes, 37% of which are in bad shape. But who would have the money to hire these home building companies? This would be the tricky part.
Now that Cubans can sell their own homes, they could sell a home, collect the proceeds and use the proceeds to pay a construction company to build a new house.
As Cubans can now only own one house at a time, this will prevent excessive accumulation of real estate in the property of one individual. Thereby, we avoid the problem of the “real estate mogul.”
It’s true that the Cuban tourist industry is a great success, but Alford neglects to point out that that most of those resorts and hotels are run by the Cuban state either alone or in joint ventures.
All of those great Cuban lobsters were caught by the state. That great Cuban rum was made a by state firm. And the world’s best cigars are made in state cigar factories. Alford neglects to mention any of this.
All in all though, a pretty good show from a CoC type.
Cuba Begins the Road to Success
by Harry Alford
The National Black Chamber of Commerce® has been studying the evolution of Cuba for 14 years. The evolution has been slow as we entered the 21st century but recently there have been some major economic developments. Last November, Cuban residents were given the right to personal property. They can now buy and sell homes. Beginning last week, they can now freely travel abroad with an authentic visa from the nation they wish to visit.
During our first trip to Cuba in August 2000, we were stunned by all the promising features of this island nation and its people. My mentor, the late Arthur A. Fletcher, marveled at this and said to me, “This nation will one day become the ‘Hong Kong’ of the Caribbean.” Art, it is about to start happening. Let’s look at the possibilities.
Cuba has a great education system that is far superior to ours. These citizens are ready to take on the global market as they are adept at the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. For example, they are some of the best engineers and architects in the world.
Much of this talent is used around the globe and helps generate revenue for the nation. The last time I was in Paris, I took a stroll past a new five star hotel that was being built. I was surprised to see so many Blacks participating in the construction. The next day, I came by again and heard one of Fidel Castro’s speeches blasting out through some speakers. It became clear to me that the construction company and probably the architectural team were indeed Cuban.
I first witnessed this inspirational exercise while we were in Havana. Their prowess at infrastructure is becoming legend around the world. Africa, Europe, Asia and other places they are making a great reputation.
This island nation is also known for its healthcare delivery system. Cuban doctors are so efficient that they travel around the globe helping to address health issues wherever it is needed.
A Black Cuban has a lifespan at least a decade longer than an African American. Every Cuban is required to have a full medical exam twice a year. Did you know that they have eradicated sickle cell anemia in Cuba? Now that they can freely travel we should be sending for some of their health services here since it is superior to ours. Just think of the possibilities in all third world nations.
The biggest provider of wealth for the average American is real estate equity (right now it is in a funk but it will return). Now that Cubans can buy and sell homes it is going to generate cash for prospective entrepreneurs. With these proceeds they can invest in start-up businesses and begin the venture of wealth building and job creation. Banks in Cuba are as busy as ever.
There is now a housing demand for more than 600,000 new homes. Think of the construction companies popping up to meet that demand – Jobs, Jobs and Jobs. The government is estimating that more than 1 million new jobs can be created through this capitalistic activity. This nation has a population of about 11 million people and already 338,000 are now self – employed.
Cuba is one of the hottest tourist destinations for Europeans and South Americans. Its white sand beaches, modern hotels (mostly European owned), best rum in the world, best lobsters in the world and slick Afro–Cuban music (actually straight from the Congo via the slavery years) makes it a festive nation. Did I mention the world’s best cigars? We saw some of the most beautiful Black women in the world living there.
The gates of Cuba are unlocked. It is time for our nation to catch up to these changes and let us travel and do business with our brothers and sisters in Cuba like the rest of the world. Cuba has survived all the sanctions, dirty games, spying and trickery we have thrown at it since 1959.
It is now ready, willing and quite able to participate in the global economy. In fact, we should be going there right now and invest in this newborn economy. The best educated people with a natural work ethic should be value added human capital for our corporations. They would be excellent joint venture partners for our small businesses.
God has blessed Cuba. Maybe it is that giant statue of Jesus in downtown Havana that is helping things out. Also, maybe it is that statue of Abraham Lincoln in the town square that compels us to go there and join this renaissance.
Next year we need to organize a gigantic trade mission to spend a good two weeks in Havana, Santiago and the countryside. Hopefully, our nation will catch up to this modernization and extension of liberty in Cuba.
Harry Alford is the co-founder, president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website. Email: email@example.com.