Cuba's leaders make way for the youth
Country is slowly introducing economic reforms to spur growth and placate the youth.
The average monthly wage in Cuba is $20. The country's communist leadership is comprised almost exclusively of elderly men, many in their 80's. Against this backdrop, the government is trying to find a way to connect with the youthful population and ensure the long-term viability of the communist revolution led by Fidel Castro in 1959.
To address the youth, Cuba's leaders are allowing more economic reforms which means more wealth for the historically poor country.
Specific proposals included the possibility of age and term limits for government officials.
Cuba's economy has always grown slowly and continues to do so while other communist countries enjoy explosive growth, such as Vietnam's 6.8 percent and China's 10.3 percent (2010 totals). Cuba's economy only grew by 1.5 percent in 2010.
Presently, the government offsets the lack of economic growth with heavy subsidies for housing and food, but young people, who have less appreciation for the revolution, and who are exposed to the influences of affluent pop culture from places such as the nearby US, are not satisfied with their standard of living, subsidies or no.
For this reason, Party leaders have been looking at economic reforms that will allow them to retain power and control by inspiring the youth, while also helping the Cuban economy grow.
The fact that the more pragmatic Raul Castro is now running the government, also helps. Fidel Castro has always been an ideologue and a genuine barrier to growth.
Richard Becherer, professor of business at the university of Tennessee said of opportunities in Cuba, "There are two ways you can become an entrepreneur. One is by creating a job for yourself - becoming the guy who cuts the grass or that kind of thing. The other option, that really helps the economy, is allowing someone to create a company that has its own intrinsic value. Those are the ones which really create jobs."
To accomplish what Becherer was talking about, the government has now approved 178 professions where individuals will be allowed to operate as independent business owners, rather than as state-employed laborers.
It isn't a full-blown economic liberalization, but it is progress and it does help.
Providing young people with these opportunities is important, especially as the national government looks to lay off workers in an effort to reduce costs. The government is also looking at trimming some of the generous subsidies for food and housing.
If the people are going to have to pay more, they will need greater opportunities -- after all, $20 seems to be the limit of how much more the average worker can pay.
Cuba also has some other advantages. For example, the country is more environmentally friendly than others -- a result of the loss of Soviet oil when the Soviet Union ceased to exist at the end of the Cold War. With the loss of oil, the country had to become increasingly self-sufficient. Today, rooftop gardens are common in urban areas, and the country has made significant progress developing wind and solar power, energy efficient light bulbs, and adding more public transportation.
Cuba"s communist leadership is hoping that these changes will entice the youth to join Castro's revolution as well as close the generational gap, while improving the country's economy. Time will tell if the youth will be satisfied with these reforms -- or if they will demand more.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Cuba, communist, communism, economy, economics, reforms, Fidel Castro
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Americas News
- Is the 'human cost' in the war on drugs too high?
- High-tech Indiana Jones team discovers the fabled lost city of Ciudad Blanca
- Has the lost 'White City of gold' been found at last?
- Why did the world's laziest workers destroy a treasured Mayan pyramid?
- Scientists discover 'Brazilian Atlantis' off Rio coast
- Would emergency parachutes in high-rise buildings stave off another 9/11 disaster?
- Obama: Guantanamo 'is not in the best interest of the American people'
- Mexicans view U.S., Obama more favorably, 20 percent would immigrate illegally
- Declared the antichrist, three-day-old baby burned to death by Chilean cult leader
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?