The Idea Department

The Idea Department is a space for the discussion of politics, economics, global affairs, ethics, international relations, and related topics - brought to you by the staff and interns at Project Syndicate.
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Posts tagged "cuba"
Cuban Time Travel
Cuba’s appearance is reminiscent of the American 1950’s, especially with regards to the glorious American automobiles that stick out on the streets.  However, the economy and infrastructure in the country are not nearly as glamorous.  
Cuba’s workforce comprises of doctors and professionals, but most people are still government employed and those in the private economy work in “178 approved job types… the choices include waiter, bathroom attendant, taxi driver, auto battery repairman, mule driver, and wheelbarrow operator…
Most ordinary goods – from shoe leather to software – are rationed, which means that they are available only by waiting in line or going to the black market. Many goods are not available at all.”
Luckily, Cuba is straying away from this system and moving towards a more westernized, privatized economy, especially with the demise of former leader Fidel Castro.
"Four developments will soon occur, probably at approximately the same time: the aging Cuban émigrés who have dictated US policy regarding their homeland will give way to the next generation; the Castros will pass from the scene; US-Cuban relations will be normalized; and one of the world’s two remaining museums of communism will become a rapidly growing, service-exporting market-based economy."
Read the full article here: Project Syndicate

Cuban Time Travel

Cuba’s appearance is reminiscent of the American 1950’s, especially with regards to the glorious American automobiles that stick out on the streets.  However, the economy and infrastructure in the country are not nearly as glamorous.  

Cuba’s workforce comprises of doctors and professionals, but most people are still government employed and those in the private economy work in “178 approved job types… the choices include waiter, bathroom attendant, taxi driver, auto battery repairman, mule driver, and wheelbarrow operator…

Most ordinary goods – from shoe leather to software – are rationed, which means that they are available only by waiting in line or going to the black market. Many goods are not available at all.”

Luckily, Cuba is straying away from this system and moving towards a more westernized, privatized economy, especially with the demise of former leader Fidel Castro.

"Four developments will soon occur, probably at approximately the same time: the aging Cuban émigrés who have dictated US policy regarding their homeland will give way to the next generation; the Castros will pass from the scene; US-Cuban relations will be normalized; and one of the world’s two remaining museums of communism will become a rapidly growing, service-exporting market-based economy."

Read the full article here: Project Syndicate

Esther Dyson’s latest piece on ProSyn, called Tweeting to Havana, details the complicated sense of freedom and the lack thereof felt in Cuba. The line between political freedom and censorship is blurry; people like Orlando Luis Pardo (@OLPL) still choose to stay in Cuba despite dissatisfaction with its political system. And, for the most part, they are able to tweet, write, and speak publicly.

“Is their ability to do that (so far) a sign that the government knows that few people are listening?” Is the rule, in essence, you may speak, but don’t make too much noise? The regime clearly knows who these dissident-types are, as Pardo and another blogger have been apprehended and roughed up by police before. But it has yet to deport them or make any meaningful moves towards silencing them.

Dyson writes that “it all depends on how you interpret it—and on how they interpret you.” I suppose the takeaway for me, personally, is the usual realization of how fortunate I am to be able to write this and not worry if it’s a safe choice.

I hope Cubans will continue blogging, tweeting, and speaking up. And I hope it will eventually make a difference for freedom there. To read the rest of Dyson’s article, and to interpret it for yourself, head over to Project Syndicate by clicking this link.