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    Cuba: more reliant on the US than ever

    Cuba: more reliant on the US than ever
    ROBERTO ÁLVAREZ QUIÑONES | Los Ángeles | 27 de Marzo de 2017 – 16:38 CEST.

    The best way to appreciate how that Cuba’s economy today depends on the
    US more than ever before in its history is to engage in a very simple
    mental exercise: imagine that Washington banned travel, remittances and
    packages to the island, except for medicines and special visits by
    Cubans to see very sick relatives.

    What would happen? Can anyone even make a coherent assessment of a
    scenario like this? Many shudder at even the notion. This is not going
    to happen, but the mere thought places many’s hair on end – especially
    that of the Castroist political and military elite. Political science
    also encompasses possible situations and potential scenarios.

    For 60 years the regime’s propaganda has been vociferously claiming that
    before 1959 Cuba was a pseudo-colony of the US. Of course, media and
    academic centers on the island have been prohibited from researching or
    publishing anything about how, in fact, “revolutionary” Cuba was much
    more dependent on the USSR than “bourgeois” Cuba ever was on the US.
    And, what’s worse, now it depends more than ever on American cash,
    especially in the wake of the devastating economic crisis in Venezuela.

    Hypocrisy in the regime’s realpolitik and its two-faced policies are
    evident. On the one hand, it waves the flag and stirs up enmity against
    the “Empire” and the “criminal blockade”, while simultaneously
    supplicating, wheeling and dealing, and spreading its tentacles behind
    the scenes, both in political circles on the left, and within the US
    business community, to encourage travel and commercial flights to Cuba,
    and for Congress to lift the embargo so that they can obtain access to
    international loans and foreign investment.

    The latter, getting loans, cash and investments, is vital to the
    dictator and his military junta. The plans of the Government and elite
    of the Communist Party (PCC) to pass power to a new generation of
    leaders, military and civilians, starting in 2018, call for stabilizing
    financial support that they currently lack.

    More American money than ever

    Between remittances, packages and trips to Cuba from the US, in 2016
    Cuba brought in more than 7 billion dollars. According to experts that
    figure has already surpassed the amount from Venezuelan subsidies. It is
    triple the revenue from the Cuban tourist industry, almost double the
    value of Cuban exports in 2016, which did not reach 4 billion, and 15
    times the value of sugar exports. Incidentally, this last harvest in
    2016 yielded only one third of the sugar produced back in 1925 (5.1
    million tons).

    From 1902 to 1958, although nearly 80% of Cuban sugar was exported to
    the US (at rates higher than those on the world market) and the rest of
    the Island’s trade was largely with its northern neighbor, there were
    two big differences to the situation today:

    There were not, as there are today, almost 2,000,000 Cubans in the US,
    furnishing the country with more money than all of Cuba’s exports,
    including sugar, nickel, tobacco, rum and pharmaceutical products,
    combined. The funds obtained from goods exported from the island in 2016
    came to half of total monies received from the US.
    There were private enterprises in Cuba that generated the bulk of its
    Gross Domestic Product (GDP), for a per capita GDP higher than Spain’s
    and almost equal to that of Italy.
    Genetic parasitism

    The problem is that, unlike a market economy, Cuba’s is parasitic, due
    to the congenital defect of its Marxist-Leninist statism, which is
    contrary to human nature, such that it can only work if it is subsidized
    from abroad; first by Moscow, and then by Caracas. Now, with the crisis
    in Venezuela, the Cuban economy is sustained by “counterrevolutionaries”
    in Miami. The profound irony is that the cash that meets most of Cuba’s
    needs today is “imperialist” in origin.

    This had never happened before. According to official figures, in the
    50s the US acquired 57% of Cuba’s total exports. That is, the Island
    sold almost half of its exportable goods to the rest of the world,
    including cattle, coffee, pineapple and other products that the country
    was later unable to export when the Castros rose to power. In that
    pre-Castro decade Cuba produced 60,000 tons of coffee annually. In 2016
    it produced a grand total of 5,687 tons. Incredible, but true.

    With regards to dependence on the USSR, renowned Cuban economist
    Professor Carmelo Mesa-Lago offers some impressive figures. In 1989,
    Cuba received from the Soviet Union (and, to a far lesser degree, other
    allied countries) 98% of its oil, 80% of its machinery, 57% of its
    chemicals, and 53% of its food. 78.6% of all imports also came from
    those Communist nations.

    According to the few official figures available in this regard, since
    Cuba joined the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) in 1972,
    between 75 and 80% of its total trade (exports and imports) was with the
    USSR and other Communist countries. The highpoint occurred between 1984
    and 1991, during the zenith of Soviet subsidies, when Moscow paid Castro
    45 cents for a pound of sugar – while the price on the world market was
    at 4 or 5.

    What few people know around the world is that Cuba got the lion’s share
    of these supplies for free, as it never paid its huge trade deficits. In
    fact, it racked up a debt of 35 billion dollars with Moscow. 90% was
    pardoned in 2014 by Vladimir Putin, aware that they would never collect.
    He did try to force Castro to pay at least 3.5 billion, however. But
    he’s not going to get a penny.

    I still have a yellowing paper teletype, an AFP report from back in
    1995, indicating that between 1984 and 1991 Cuba had accumulated a trade
    deficit of more than 16.08 billion dollars during those 8 years, an
    average of over 2 billion per year, with a spike to 2.74 billion in
    1989. And almost all that unbalanced trade was with the USSR.

    Total subordination

    Furthermore, the island received billions of dollars in weapons of every
    type: planes, tanks, artillery, ships, rockets, vehicles, guns, and
    equipment, allowing it to wield the largest and most powerful army in
    Latin America after Brazil. Cuba even received 42 nuclear missiles (able
    to reach Washington and New York), which put the world on the brink of
    nuclear war in 1962.

    But what takes the cake is that in the 80s (until 1986), then Economy
    Minister Humberto Perez told me, off the record, that Moscow was selling
    to capitalist countries almost three million tons of crude oil that Cuba
    did not use, from its annual quota allocated by the CMEA, and then
    sending the money to Havana, these funds exceeding the amount generated
    by all its sugar mills.

    We can clearly see that Cuba was not a pseudocolony of the USSR, but an
    outright one, as we can add that the largest apparatus for intelligence
    and repression in Latin America, the Castros’, was organized and trained
    by the KGB, with the help of East Germany’s neo-Nazi Stasi. All for free.

    Despite its trade dependence on the US before 1959, Cuba was never as
    subordinate to its northern neighbor as it was later on the USSR, 19,000
    km away, beyond the Mediterranean.

    Given the parasitism endemic to Castroist socialism, Cuba today depends
    on the US so profoundly that if the scenario described at the outset of
    this article were to come to pass, the nation would come to an utter
    standstill. It would be another Cambodia, with people eating out of
    communal pots. Without “Yankee” money, Castroism would be unsustainable.

    *In an earlier version of this text the caption stated that the image
    was from Havana. The picture was, in fact, taken in Washington, DC.

    Source: Cuba: more reliant on the US than ever | Diario de Cuba –