Miércoles, 8 de Enero de 2020
Última actualización: 16:13 CET

'Revolutionary' Unemployment: A Crime


The Cuban Government always lies in its economic and social statistics, and with total impunity, as no figures can actually be verified. It began to lie at the beginning of 1960, when the president of the National Bank of Cuba, Che Guevara, fumed upon finding out that the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1959 had not reached 1%, so he forced his economists to look for other methods to calculate it in order too boost it and burnish the Revolution's image.

Of all the statistical data offered today by the regime’s National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI), perhaps the most outrageously false is the unemployment rate, which it claims was 2,4% in 2016.

However, when Cuba was selected as a member of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization (ILO) for the 2017-2020 period, the ONEI was obliged to inform the ILO that of the seven million people of working age in Cuba, 4,9 million have work, and the other 2,1 million are jobless.

This gives us an actual unemployment rate of 30%, one of the highest in the world, and the second highest in the Americas, behind only Haiti. But the regime does not admit this to Cubans, lest it admit it to itself. Castro's propaganda spreads the myth that there is no unemployment in Cuba because it is a Marxist-Leninist country, and the scourge of unemployment is a trait of the "decadent" capitalist system.

Of course, the numbers don’t lie. There are more than two million people of working age who are unemployed and must scramble just to survive. The worst thing is that the vast majority of them are young people. They comprise Castroism/Guevarism's "new man." There is no greater waste in the Americas than the most valuable capital a nation possesses.

A squandering of its most valuable asset

It is a universally recognized axiom that the main economic and social resource a country has is its human capital, the creative capacity of its people. This has been the case since the emergence of homo sapiens – except in the Communist regimes of the 20th century, and into the 21st, under which private property to produce goods and services constitutes a heresy punished by the law.

Such is the case in Cuba. The Castroist state was able to maintain more or less acceptable levels of employment, as long as it had substantial subsidies from Moscow. But it was all a deck of cards. Workplaces were inevitably and dramatically overstaffed. There was always room for one more worker, even if he was not necessary, if he was a friend of someone employed there.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Venezuelan subsidies proved insufficient to maintain these levels of unproductiveness, with more than 1,5 million state employees doing little or no work at all. Thus, the "Updating of the Socialist Economic Model" became necessary, which, although it remains a thoroughly Statist and Stalinist plan, the whole world calls "Raúl Castro's reforms."

As if he were on the Moon, and not with his feet on the ground, one of the first measures announced by the dictator himself, as part of this “updating” was the gradual laying off of those 1,5 million surplus workers from state payrolls, but without freeing up the productive forces of the nation so that a burgeoning private sector could absorb that enormous number of unemployed Cubans.

In the Middle Ages

That is, the dictatorship behaved as if it were in the Middle Ages, granting licenses, on a personal basis, to provide only precarious, medieval-like services. It even excluded university professionals, who, with their know-how, could have contributed much to the country on their own. Logically, within a few months the announced mass dismissal was reversed, as it promised to unleash chaos and, probably, destabilize the regime.

Despite the fact that there was no private sector capable of assimilating them, tens of thousands of state workers lost their jobs anyway due to lack of raw materials in their factories, the closing of some, and the reduction of industrial and commercial activity due to the recession resulting from the crisis in Venezuela. Many others continue to abandon their workplaces on an almost daily basis, because the average salary of about 23 dollars is not enough for them to survive and support their families, so they prefer to turn to the black market.

The results are starkly evident. Today the island's parks and streets are teeming with men and women of working age. They talk, tell stories or play with their dogs.

Only 155.605 young people are self-employed, which represents 31% of the island's incipient private sector. A bit more than a million young people work in the state sector, but not for the measly Cuban salary, but because they can obtain from the State products that they later sell on the black market to survive.

Oddly enough, stealing from the Cuban state is not a crime, but an act of self-defense. Thanks to "missing" goods in state inventories, and the "diversion of resources", there exists a genuine national market: the underground one, which keeps Cuban families alive and kicking.

The current 30% unemployment on the island is a reflection of Cuba's appallingly unique situation: it is the only country in the hemisphere that is today less economically and socially advanced than it was in the middle of the 20th century. Though Haiti has a higher unemploymen rate than Cuba, its average salary of 59 dollars is double. The "Revolutionary" island has not even reached square one when it comes to socio-economic progress, and will need to take its first steps before it can advance and build a new future.

Undoubtedly, the reconstruction of the devastated country will fall to those young people who today have no jobs, and hang their university degrees on the wall, and pedal bicycle taxis, or make a living as human statues to get tips from tourists.

Cubans who are now barred from being successful private entrepreneurs, technicians or well-paid employees will be the ones who, with financial assistance from international and Cuban banks, and foreign and Cuban-American investors, will rebuild the Cuban economy, which before the Castroist nightmare was one of the most prosperous in the Americas. They will construct the modern, democratic country for which we all yearn.