During the State-sponsored 12th Forum of Cuban Civil Society Against the Blockade, which ended last Friday at the Ministry of Public Health’s auditorium in Havana, a unique paper was presented. Under the title “The Blockade: Methodology for Calculating Costs,” Pico Nieves, and expert from the National Institute of Economic Research, presented findings that deserve political attention, but not economic.
After listening to the presentation, one question lingered in the air. What logic does the Cuban government follow when it demands compensation for the costs of a voluntary war and, moreover, one that it did not win?
There are at least six arguments that challenge the proposal from Pico’s research:
– Political: Two enemy States do not negotiate. Nothing in international practice or in the literature on States in conflict shows or demonstrates that the friend-enemy relationship, according to the German political theorist Carl Schmitt, involves trade in goods and services between them. The goal motivating such a pair is the disappearance of the other, not business relations.
– Economic: The structure of the Cuban economy is not compatible with the American economy. Goods and services that Cuba could offer are not in the “market basket” of the American citizen, and, with regards to what Cuba could receive from the United States, which is everything, there is no Cuban monetary or wage structure, unless it was reproduced, since the 1970s or ’80s, of the type of a central or peripheral economic relationship that supposedly justified the Cuban Revolution.
– Ownership structure: A privatized economy such as that of the United States does not fit with an economy as nationalized as that of Cuba. What would be the State partnership of Cuba with a country like the United States where there isn’t the most remote possibility for a role like the State’s in the Cuban economy, except with regards to trade relations?
– Creating wealth: If the Cuban economic model of production was always one of State capitalism, there is a key difference with the American model. There the economic model is one of openness and plurality par excellence, and in Cuba, on the contrary, we are faced with the most closed and centralized economy. This leads to an increasingly important difference, the technological differences which are enormous. In this sense, the only option would have been for the United States to give international organizations political license to flood Cuba with credits. But again, we encounter the obstacle that we are enemies.
– Economic policy: The sectors that could be attractive to the United States, for example tourism and cultural sectors, were only opened up in Cuba in the nineties and then only reluctantly.** In the 1970s and ‘80s allowing Yanke tourism in Cuba, the only potential area of economic ties, would have run up against that era’s most important concept of political control: ideological diversionism. US tourism would have brought the American Way of Life, inconceivable in that time.
– Ideological: The inevitable contamination from the United States can only be assimilated in a Cuba faced with the exhaustion and advanced age of the Revolution, and the cultural failure of “We will be like Che.” What’s left of that model supposedly superior to and incompatible with capitalism?
In reality, the only chance of economic relations with the United States, in conditions of political peace, would have been through the facilitation of credit and then we would have had a problem not only with the Paris Club, but also with the Washington Consensus and the vulture funds. The inefficiency of the Cuban economy cannot be solved with money.
There is no analysis that could reconcile the Cuban Revolution being in a normal economic relationship with the United States. The Cuban Revolution is a “permanent revolution.” Permanent revolution is war, although it was a cold war, with the United States.
But the government’s insistence on compensation for a voluntary war with the United States, far beyond the political necessity of balancing the accounts for the uncompensated nationalizations, reveals the subconscious of those in power in Cuba: If the model of the command economy was possible with a war mentality, it is only sustainable in relation to the American economy. The Revolutionary “Plattism*” of the better.
*The term “Plattism” refers to the Platt Amendment passed by the US Congress and subsequently adopted into Cuba’s first Constitution in 1901 as a condition for the United States removing its troops from the island. The Amendment gave the United States authority to intervene in Cuba’s foreign affairs, an “occupation without occupiers.”
**After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of its massive subsidies to Cuba, the State was forced to seek other sources of foreign exchange.