By Circles Robinson
Cuba’s economy is not easy to understand, especially for those that have never lived under a similar system where government plays a lead role. To begin with, it doesn’t go by the usual market codes of supply and demand and corporate profit isn’t its driving force.
Coming from North America or Europe to a typical Cuban urban neighborhood, the visitor’s first impression might be one of poverty: crumbling or poorly maintained buildings, pot-holed streets, ancient cars, homes where there are few “extras” etc.
On the other hand, if you arrive from Latin America or another developing country, other aspects of Cuban life might get your attention: no street kids, no malnourished faces, no beggars and people walking the streets at night with almost no fear.
In fact, in the more than six years living in Havana, I have yet to see ONE working child, an astounding contrast to other Latin American countries where I witnessed the daily parade of hungry kids scrambling to shine shoes or hawk a host of products at markets and traffic lights, in parks and door-to-door. Many are glue snuffers before they become teenagers.
Simply speaking, that doesn’t happen in Cuba, and that difference alone should make anyone think twice before buying into the corporate media’s image of Cuba as a country of acutely deprived people.
Yet, technically speaking, the foreign news stories are correct when they talk about salaries in that are the equivalent of US $10-30 a month.
Rich in some ways, poor in others, Cuba has insisted in running its economy on a different model.
AN ECONOMY THAT DARED TO BE DIFFERENT