What else would you expect from the pro-capitalist BBC?
First lie: about 1/4 of the way into the video, the narrator states that Cuba’s economy is in a “state of collapse.” He then states that Cuba’s economy has been failing for 40 years. That would mean it has been failing since around 1970. Does he mean that it was succeeding for 10 years, and then it started failing? Let us look at a chart:
Look at the chart above to see how stupid the BBC statement was. Look at the blue line and then find 1970 on the chart. Note that the general trend from 1970 to present has been upwards. In addition, from 1978-1991, Cuba’s economy was beating that of Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Yes, the line from 1960-1970 is relatively flat, but so was that of the other nations during this period. And look at the trend from 1945-1959 under capitalism. Absolutely flat.
Even now, Cuba is beating Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. Only the Dominican Republic is beating Cuba, and Cuba is better in many ways than the D.R.
Look at the trend line of the skyrocketing economy from 1993-present. This is the period in which the BBC states the Cuban economy was “failing” and “in a state of collapse.” Look that way to you?
So the BBC is lying. Cuba’s economy has not been failing for 40 years, at least not compared to its neighbors. If it’s been failing, the economies of all of its neighbors has been failing too. Cuba’s economy is not in a state of collapse. Instead it has been growing by leaps and bounds since 1993, and since 2005, it has surpassed even the great achievement of 1983-1991. Cuba’s economy is doing better than at any time in its history.
Let us compare Cuba’s economy with Jamaica’s:
Cuba Jamaica Greece poverty % 1 14.3 GDP per capita $ 9,700 4,100 unemployment % 1.7 14.5 Debt % of GDP 34.6 131.7 126
As you can see, Jamaica’s debt is even higher than that of Greece! What a catastrophe.
In addition, GDP growth in recent years has been consistently higher in Cuba (with a trend growth rate being at the very least 2% higher in Cuba).
Jamaica has faithfully followed the neoliberal Washington consensus laid down by the US, the IMF and the World Bank. This is what happens when you follow that model: failure.
The documentary goes to great pains to make the case that socialism has failed in Cuba and that now capitalism is replacing it. I think what we are looking at here is what I call “market socialism.” China also has a market socialist economy. I support the market socialist model in both China and Cuba. A small business sector is a very important aspect of any socialist economy, in my opinion.
Cuba is presently limiting the size of these new entrepreneurs. As they make more and more money, taxes start taking a bigger bite. That is painful, but most of the entrepreneurs say it is still worth it. The housing market is not as capitalist as you think. Cubans can still only own one house. This is essential to prevent the massive accumulation of housing stock in the hands of giant real estate tycoons and businesses. The size of the private farms is also limited. Actually, they are not even private farms since the land is leased from the state. The state owns all land in Cuba, and that is the way it should be. Most of the problems of capitalism stem from the private ownership of land, particularly farmland. How much land do you need anyway?
The housing situation in Havana is painful to watch. However, this collapsing housing is in general limited to Havana. I wonder what the solution to this might be. I could imagine entrepreneurs could form small construction companies or construction collectives could form. Neighborhoods could also band together to fix their own housing stock. If you have been on the waiting list for a housing renovation for 16 years, obviously that model is just not working.
The hamburger joint the fellow fashioned out of his home is a great idea, but I am not sure if he should be allowed to franchise it out. There needs to be limits placed on how rich a man can become and how many businesses he may own.
The part about the ballet was very touching. This is why I am a socialist. The finest ballet company in the whole land, the national ballet company, hosts performances that are so cheap (30 cents) that they are available to just about any Cuban! Wow. Here in the USA, ballet and other arts is generally affordable only by people who have money. Most of the people I know surely do not have the money to go to the ballet.
Note the segment about the ballet dancer. She is one of 500 students at the national ballet school in Havana. Obviously, competition was very tight to get in. The school is 100% free, while in the US, it might costs $20-30,000 a year. That means that only rich people could afford to learn to be ballet dancers, no matter how talented they are. That is just wrong. Education ought to be offered based on talent and aptitude, not how much money you have.
That ballet performance and the ballet school. Now that’s why I am a socialist.