Cuba Politics

The future of Cuba - Follow China or follow the Soviet Union

Posted December 06, 2005 by publisher in Cuba Politics.

I want to read what Havana Journal readers think about Cuba’s political and economic evolution.

Will Cuba learn from China and evolve towards a free market economy or will it NOT learn from the Soviet Union mistakes?

Since Cuba had close ties with the Soviet Union and since Fidel Castro has been set in his ways for decades, I don’t see Cuba (and Fidel has said this) embracing China’s economic style reforms.

So, does Cuba just wither away to nothing until the lights go out and everyone just stays home?

Your thoughts?

Member Comments

On December 06, 2005, trendzetter wrote:

Cuba is implementing true socialism. While the chinese and the russian took the dangerous ways of opportunism. I see no need to follow there course. Maybe the chinese economy is growing as a whole but there is also a growing group of excluded citizens.

On December 06, 2005, Bob Dobbs wrote:


I think that is a fairly narrow view of what is happening in both China and Cuba. In many ways I think Fidel is embracing the Chinese model. With the advent of tourism and foreign investment to build a tourist infrastructure, more and more Cubans are EXCLUDED from the things that are rightfully theirs. In the name of greater profits Fidel asks his citizens to sacrifice the very things the revolution supposidly gave back to the community.

On December 06, 2005, jesusp wrote:

In China as in Cuba, only those that opt to ignore opportunities to improve their lives are excluding themselves, profit is not a dirty word, is what governments do with it and how they re-invest it to the benefit of peoples and communities, that really counts. History will, no doubt, absolve Fidel for his struggle against Batista, I am not so sure how he will be judged for the direction he has taken Cuba during the last 45 years. Changes and reforms are desperately needed and it would be truly great if he was the one to bring them about. The Chinese model would be a good start.

On December 06, 2005, Mako wrote:

It will be more of a Soviet style transition ,but at a slower more measured pace. The Soviet Union atempted political and economic reform simultaneously and at a rather rapid pace. The social convulsions are still being felt today. China has changed economically but politically remains an authoritarian state intolerant of any political dissent Cuba ,being a basically western culture at its roots, will inevitably be influenced by its environment in the western hemisphere. Very likely,in the post Castro years Gorbechev/Yeltsin type reformers will emerge from the shadows, and with its well educated and industrious populace,Cuba could become one of the more progressive and prosperous countries in this hemisphere. But, it will take many years

On December 07, 2005, publisher wrote:

Interesting comments.

How about this? Time for Fidel to sink or swim.

Soviet mistakes = sink and China success = swim.

I don’t think Fidel can “tread water” for much longer. Sure months, maybe years but I’m sure he knows the clock is ticking…economically, socially, politically and of course biologically.

On December 07, 2005, Kees van Kortenhof wrote:

‘Maybe the chinese economy is growing as a whole but there is also a growing group of excluded citizens.!

In this aspect Cuba has a quickly grwoing similarity with China. A growing part of the population has lack of food en health. Only with divisas you have possibilities for thes problems. In spiritual sense they are educated (‘free!!’)within an ideological controlled system where is no place for free-thinking.
I don’t see any fundamental change als long as Fidel reigns. He is an obsessive leader at the end of his live who wants to leave the Cuban people his heritage. It they want it or not’

After Fidel it’ necessary to use the individual posibilities of Cuban people so they can take free initiatives in developing themseleves, in an economic way but als socially and cultural.And the Cuban society is in this aspect, a rich one.

Kees van Kortenhof


On December 07, 2005, Juan Paxety wrote:

Why should Cuba follow either model? Both Russia and China are authoritarian regimes. Things are getting better in China (according to my Chinese friends who travel back home for extended visits) - people are allowed to have property rights in the fruits of their labor, they are still not allowed much in the way of participation in government.

Why not freedom for the Cuban people?

On December 07, 2005, Camilo Cienfuegos wrote:

Everyone always wants to compare Cuba with some other Communist or Socialist country.  This is wrong.  Each country follows its on political philosophy and ideology.  How they apply Capitalism, Socialism, or Communism to that model does not define the country, rather, it helps steer their course.  China is currently refashioning their economy out of necessity and luxury.  They have the luxury to flex their economic muscle, but at the same time, they are positioning themselves for an endgame with the rest of the worlds economic powers.  Unfortunately, everything comes back to oil.  For years executives at Exxon, Mobil and the rest of our Gas suppliers knew of the coming shortage of oil.  America is less than 5% of the worlds population yet we consume more than 40% of the worlds supply of oil.  As China’ economy is refashioned to take on the U.S., England and Japan, lets not forget the sheer size of their population.  As everyone improves in China they all want cars and things that run on oil.  As the worlds supply continues to run out, this is an ultimate show down for who controls it.

The fact that Cuba is rebounding with its economy only shows a fractional glimpse at how successfull the Cuban Revolution would have been were it not for the jealousy of the United States and its Illegal Economic Blockade!!  Thank goodness for Venezuela and Hugo [CHE]vez, who is willing to stand up for his countries Sovereignty and not sell it away to the American’ like Mexico’ Vincente Fox.

Long live the Cuban Revolution.

On December 07, 2005, Camilo Cienfuegos wrote:

I’m really impressed by all of you experts on Cuba.  Where do you get your information from???  Voice Of America????  All of you are talking about Cuba and your comments readily demonstrate each of you don’t understand the country.  Some of you speak as if you just put down an issue of Crain’ Magazine, while others sound as if they just turned off CNN.  Have you people not paid any attention to what Fidel Castro was trying to accomplish in Cuba??  Until you do, none of you have the foundation to even speak of it. 

Cuba will not be an investment haven after Castro.  Cuba will not follow anyone’ political model.  Cuba has created its own version of Socialism….PERIOD.  The strength of the Cuban Revolution comes from the education of its people.  Whereas, in America, and other parts of the world, governments actively pursue a domestic policy of PUBLIC ACQUIESCENCE.  By making the public “happy and content” on useless things that only feed into Capitalism, the public is less inclined to focus on the foul nature of foreign policy that is pursued by its own government….HENCE THE IRAQI INVASION BY THE US AND THE WORLDS COMPLACENCY TO IT.

Right now there are millions of dollars being thrown around by Think Tanks and lobbyist on how best to tackle the Cuba situation.  What is really happening is how best to re-invade Cuba and undue all of the social, medical and educational reforms put in place by Fidel.  Think of it.  Water is still Free in Cuba.  How many of you pay for something as simple as WATER!!!  If the Capitalist could control the air you breath you’d be paying for that too.

I’m sorry with what your definitions of freedom is, but that is not it.

On December 07, 2005, trendzetter wrote:

Cuba had trouble filling all needs during the post-soviet period bacause of the embargo. Therefore they organised tourism better and allowed controlled foreign investment ( and some more measures which I skip for readability ) to aquire more dollars. Unlike the chinese they did not allow the citizens to aquire production means. Today large parts of the chinese communist party are starting to think as capitalists because they are connected to private capital. Recently the Cubans decided to return to there positions and ban the trade in dollars. They still believe the best way to fill the needs of humanity is planeconomy. Gorbechev/Yeltsin style reformers would destroy everything they have fought for and would make the population of Cuba as poor as in Ha´ti. Hunger and poor health would be no exception. If we look to Russia we should realised what kind of disaster the “reforms” ( contra-revolution ) caused. I don’t believe in a slow transition bringing freedom en wealth and probably the Cubans feel the same way. It would just return the reign of the maffia and exploitation by the US.
Cubans demand freedom to build there society in function of the needs of humanity. There exists no freedom when you are hungry, when you are uneducated. Thats why the western dogma of freedom thrue a multi-party system is false. All of those parties work for the wellbeing of shareholders of big corporations in one way or another.

On December 07, 2005, Chuck Bailey wrote:

Socialism can only function if the private sectors of an ecomomy create enough tax flow to cover proper expenses of government programs. Namely supporting the 15-20 % of a population that is in some way unproductive.
Cuba must generate a growing service economy in the areas of tourisim and long term facilities for retirement communities. I would suggest they apply to insurance, pension plan companies and yes to Canadian and U.S. social secuity functions to house and serve the elderly from up NORTH.grin)
If Cuba has confiscated private property, Does Castro family still own their large estate?
Does one have to be a card carrying communist to get a government job or go to the University?
Do the people working in the health services consider themselves free, when they are sent to work in Venezuela, to make payments on oil imported to Cuba?
I would like to see the next step in the evolution if Cuba to be non-violent and not under the control of people that lost property in the “revolution”.
The next year or so is going to be interesting to watch.

On December 07, 2005, Cubaking wrote:

I have just returned from my 51 research trip to Cuba and have a strong gut feeling China is behind thr recent changes that the Government of Cuba is now putting in place.
I will be updating my web page shortly.
Gordon Robinson Port Alberni B.C. Canada

On December 07, 2005, Mako wrote:

Any one who believes the “Revolution” will just continue on after the “Bearded Guy” takes a “dirt nap” must also believe in Santa Claus. And also has never been to Cuba. The “revolution has lost the hearts and minds of the young people.People are taking to the seas in record numbers this year.Despite what you read in Granma, condtions(especially outside of tourist areas) are getting worse , not better. There is only one thing I can guarantee, in the post Castro era; there will be reformers, whether they be inspired by the likes of Gorbechev/Yeltsin or Jose Marti. But inevitablly , there will be change  

On December 08, 2005, waldo wrote:

Cuba is Cuba, Fidel is Fidel and Fidel is for Cuba!

On December 11, 2005, historia wrote:

Since everyone is so able and willing to write about the FUTURE of Cuba, I have a not-so-difficult question. Did Cuba have a free market economy before 1959? Did the “laws of the market” operated in the island from 1934 to 1959, just to take a particular time period?

On December 11, 2005, jesusp wrote:

Historia, to answer your question, yes, Cuba did have a free market economy during the time period you asked about, however, the extremely close ties to the U. S. and the influence such ties exerted, pretty much determined Cuban economic policies. 

On December 12, 2005, leftside wrote:

My prediction is that Cuba will follow its own path and I expect a relatively smooth post-Fidel transition. The country will be calm (as it has been) as long as the US and big Miami stay out. Capitalism will remain on the sidelines. 
Everyone, including Fidel, realizes the problem of growing inequality that has crept in the last 10 years. It is a byproduct of tourism - and remittances. The country is trying to better it - the “youth” mobilization against it (stealing oil, etc.) is very interesting. As was the 25% raise he gave to the most vulnerable - the old and low-wage workers last week (this after teachers, social workers and professionals recieved large wage increases on May Day).
The embargo , of course, is the key to economic change. There is no doubt it would be a boon unrivaled in the world. It appears neither a democrat or republican President would lift it unless socialism is gone. I’m afraid It will be an even more absurd game of “who blinks first.” 

On December 12, 2005, Chuck Bailey wrote:

The U.S. offical embargo, only forces Castro to Pay cash for his peoples food.If he has cash, the only reason to buy from U.S. is because we provide it at a lower cost.!! Capitolism at it’ best!!!
If sugar is a dead business, of what real value are the plantations??

On December 13, 2005, Camilo Cienfuegos wrote:

Chuck Bailey - Response to your question regarding plantations in Cuba, perhaps Cuba will create its own Hilton Head with the same style of plantations used in America during their glorious days of slavery.

jesusp - Cuba is the only nation on earth required to pay cash for purchasing US goods.  The US rarely buys anything back from Cuba using cash.  This policy insures a steady depletion of US dollars from Cuba.  So lets all be good American’ and spend our tourist dollars in old Havana so Fidel could support the failing US economy by purchasing even more goods.  How’ that for the Cuban Revolution coming to the aid of Capitalism (Spelled with an a, not an o).

Also, the free market system found in PreCastro Cuba was drugs, prostitution, corrupt U.S. officials, the Mafia and everything else that makes the U.S. so gloriously dirty.  Thank goodness Fidel kicked them all out.

Finally, in forty short years, Fidel has done more on the issues of racial equality than America has done in the last 100 years.  Too bad Fidel couldn’t clone himself for another go round.

On December 14, 2005, waldo wrote:

RIGT ON CAMILO! And the pre-revolution free market system( meaning cut troat capitalism) also produced, among many other priviledges and inequailities, two kind of schools and hospitals, one fine private for the rich and one lousy public for the poor. Just look at the great example of what is going on with the free market deal at the USA; schools, hospitals, housing, employment, pay scales and pay raises, etc. The white rich gets richer and best treatment, while and the poor gets poorer and lousy treatment, like in Katrina-New Orleans. 

On December 14, 2005, Mako wrote:

I am leaving Friday for Havana . I will give you all an update upon my return

On December 14, 2005, jesusp wrote:

Camilo, reading your statement with regards to pre-Castro free market system, leads me to beleieve that you do not know very much about Cuba during that time, Cuba’ market economy was much more than drugs, prostitution and Mafia affairs, I have no idea how old you are, but to depict Cuba that way is to echo the many ignorant people which for many years have done so. True we had corruption and the Batista regime was a puppet of the U.S. and a brutal and repressive dictatorship, however, Cuba was, in spite of its government, a much better place than how you present it. As far as what Fidel has done, we’ll have to see if history will absolve him.

On December 14, 2005, Chuck Bailey wrote:

If Cuba were to evolve into a market driven economy, turn the sales and distribution over to individuals, impose tax on production and imports, they wouldn’t have to worry about people stealing to earn cash for everyday expenses. Chuck

On December 14, 2005, historia wrote:

1. The US government’ Jones Costigan Act of 1934 establised a quota system on the importation of agricultural products. The reason: to stabilize prices by establishing quotas on the production (or importation of goods). Why? To get the US economy out of the depression. One of the commodities affected: sugar.
2. The US sugar quota system was imposed on Cuba and other sugar producers in Latin America. The Cuban government agreed to the conditions.One of the conditions: the Cuban government determined how much sugar was going to be produced on a yearly basis and how much exported to the US. There will be NO free market determining supply, demand or prices. All three were determined by the US Department of Agriculture and ratified by the US Congress. The amount of sugar and its price was politically determined. 
3. The US State Department told the Cuban embassy in Washington DC amount and price (this began in 1934 and continued until 1960). The Cuban ambassador transmitted the order to the Cuban Executive who then through the pertinent Ministries decided how much sugar cane would be grown by the colonos, and how much sugar cane would be processed and sugar produced by the sugar mills (hacendados). The Cuban state established which colonos sold to what mills and how much was to be purchased by each mill. The Cuban state determined the salaries paid to sugar mill workers, to cane cutters, and to transportation companies and their employees.
4. Cuba had a state controlled capitalist economy, the key elements of the sugar economy were set in Washington and Havana by government officials. Moreover, such command economy also determined what happened in every facet of economy.
5. Oddly, the “post Castro” plans assume Cuba had some form of neolibreal economic practice. The revolutionary regime was less of a break on matters related to the relationship between the state and the economy. Granted, the state capitalist economy functioned for the benefit of those who were rich and controlled the economy.
6. One last question: In the March - June 1960 confrontation between the Cuban government and the US government on the matter of the sale/purchase of sugar from Cuba: Who supported “free trade” and who favored “quotas”?

On December 14, 2005, Chuck Bailey wrote:

I base my statement on “sugar plantation” economy is dead, not on old political positions, but on the simple fact of U.S. does not need raw sugar to sweeten our products. And the rest of the worlds economy has nothing to trade with cuba for it’ sugar.
Russia equipped a Cuban military and went broke taking sugar in trade!! While U.S. watched and grin) Chuck

On December 14, 2005, waldo wrote:

It all sounds like and points to: US Controling Imperialism before Castro, US Dirty-War Imperialism during Castro and more of the same US Imperialism planned after Castro; and the Cubans and their sovereingty?

On December 14, 2005, Chuck Bailey wrote:

Wouldn’t it be something if the Cubans that voted for Castro, as the Iraqies voted for Saddam, turned in the same percentage and voted for anybody but Fidel!!
Fidel and his friends are in deep dodo, they best be cleaning up their act over the remaining time of oppressive control. Chuck