Yesterday (3/31/08) one dream of many Cubans came true when Raul Castro did away with the laws that forbade Cuban citizens from staying in, or even entering, the island’s luxury hotels and resorts. Today more dreams are coming true! Starting on April 1st cubans can now purchase things like computers, plasma TVs, electric powered bicycles and cell phones; until today those items and many other imported consumer products were only available to companies and foreign tourists.
What, you may well wonder, is going through Raul Castro’s head? By allowing these luxuries to those Cubans who can afford them he is creating the one thing that his brother Fidel was violently opposed to: an upper class of Cubans. At the same time he is taking a chance by making the poor Cubans — the vast majority of Cubans — feel even poorer.
You have to believe that Raul knows what he’s doing and, if you believe that, you can forsee his next steps. The Cuban economy will be opened up to more foreign investment; he’ll make whatever moves are necessary to romance the Cuban American community (the cell phones were a good start); he will make efforts to resume full relations with the United States and most importantly, he will encourage new industry to come to Cuba. With new factories come jobs and with jobs come better pay and suddenly you have what you would never have seen under Fidel: a capitalist economy.
The WHY of all this can only be answered with pure conjecture but to my eyes the reason is obvious: Raul realizes what Fidel never did: Cuba is another failed experiment in socialism and if that socialism does not go away, its only a matter of time until he does.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for a truly democratic form of government in Cuba; Raul doesn’t want or need the end to his regime that a true democracy would bring. He knows that a capitalist economy can survive and even flourish under a benevolent dictator (he’s seen it in South America) and if Raul assumes that role of the benevolent dictator the New Cuba, while not perfect to American eyes, will be far, far site better than what was. Better for the Cuban citizens and possibly better for the United States.
Associated Press (via Yahoo): Thanks Raul: Cubans can stay in hotels
CNN International: Cuba opens tourist hotels to citizens
The political fancier: Cubans Go From Microwaves to Cell Phones, Can You Hear Me Now?
Jordan Whitley: Good news Cubans: You can now vacation in Cuba?