The Cuban model: What Fidel Castro — and everyone else — knows is broken.
9.14.10 – HAVANA, Cuba — Since his off-the-cuff comment that “the Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore,” Fidel Castro has tried to retract that statement and prevent its rapid spread across the internet.
The remark was misinterpreted by the visiting reporter Jeffery Goldberg of the Atlantic, Castro insists, claiming what he really meant was the opposite: it’s Washington’s free-market model that wouldn’t work for Cuba.
That explanation was not only unsatisfying — it also didn’t really make sense. While Castro’s statement may not have been the endorsement of free-market economics that some were eager to interpret it as, it also defies logic that when the commandante combined the words “Cuban model,” “doesn’t work” and “anymore,” he was somehow talking about global capitalism.
So what was Castro really trying to say? Was it a spontaneous, unfiltered observation? A misstatement? A casual aside he didn’t expect to see in print?
A more plausible interpretation is that Castro was simply stating something that many here have been saying for some time, including his younger brother and successor Raul: the Cuban government needs to fix its socialist model to stay afloat.
As Cuba expert Julia Sweig of the Council on Foreign Relation said to Goldberg, who’d asked her for clarification, Castro “wasn’t rejecting the ideas of the Revolution.”
“I took it to be an acknowledgment that under ‘the Cuban model’ the state has much too big a role in the economic life of the country,” she said.
Castro, then, may have been simply endorsing the limited economic reforms initiated by his brother, easing state control over agriculture and allowing for the creation of worker-run cooperatives and more small-scale private enterprise.
While those reforms hardly represent major changes, they have been accompanied by an unprecedented public debate about the island’s economic shortcomings, with growing calls for more free-market liberties. The discussions have featured relatively frank criticisms of Cuba’s onerous bureaucracy, including the cradle-to-grave entitlements that are basic to the island’s socialist model but increasingly unaffordable for the cash-strapped government.
As Raul Castro sees it, that old model is exhausted. As he recently said in a speech, “We have to permanently erase the notion that Cuba is the only country in the world where you can live without working.”
On Monday, Cuba’s state-run media announced that the government intends to lay off or reassign 500,000 workers by mid-2011. Castro said there are a million excess employees on state payrolls, and that the government will continue to make adjustments to the island’s socialist system. By creating new opportunities for small-scale business ventures and cooperatives, Castro’s goal is to spur productivity by encouraging entrepreneurship, while keeping Cuba’s aspiring business class on a tight leash and avoiding missteps.
Part of his challenge will be to find ways to formally recognize the black-market economy that already exists. Unlicensed, informal businesses operate all over the island, run by Cubans who sell imported clothing, fix air conditioners or bake pastries. By bringing those businesses out of the shadows with regulation and taxation, the government could soften the vlow of the large-scale layoffs in the public sector.
Enter your email to subscribe to daily Education News!
- Education Technology
- Teachers Unions
- Charter Schools
- California Education
- Education Research
- Online Education
- New York Education
- UK Education
- STEM Education
- School Choice
- Cost of College
- Education Funding
- New York City Schools
- Julia Steiny
- Florida Education
- Education Reform
- Parent Involvement
- Texas Education
- Los Angeles Schools
- Math Education
- C. M. Rubin
- Obama Administration
- Chicago Schools
- 2012 Election
- New Jersey Education
- Pennsylvania Education
- Tennessee Education
- Teacher Training
- UK Higher Education
- Early Childhood Education
- Louisiana Education
- College Admissions
- School Health
- Ohio Education
- Teacher Evaluations
- Illinois Education
- Arne Duncan
- UK Politics
- Michigan Education
Plan your career as an educator using our free online datacase of useful information.
- Select a State Subject
- Journalism Schools in Michigan
- Psychology Schools in Wisconsin
- X Ray Technician Schools in West Virginia
- Select a City Subject
- Journalism Schools in Albion
- Journalism Schools in Allendale
- Journalism Schools in Alpena
- Journalism Schools in Ann Arbor
- Journalism Schools in Battle Creek
- Journalism Schools in Berrien Springs
- Journalism Schools in Detroit
- Journalism Schools in East Lansing
- Journalism Schools in Flint
- Journalism Schools in Grand Rapids
- Journalism Schools in Ironwood
- Journalism Schools in Kalamazoo
- Journalism Schools in Livonia
- Journalism Schools in Mount Pleasant
- Journalism Schools in Olivet
- Journalism Schools in Spring Arbor
- Journalism Schools in Ypsilanti
- Psychology Schools in De Pere
- Psychology Schools in Mequon
- Psychology Schools in Waukesha
- X Ray Technician Schools in Beckley
- X Ray Technician Schools in Bluefield
- X Ray Technician Schools in Charleston