Cuba’s economy flat-lines: revolution is over, but dictatorship lives on


Cuba’s insular socialist paradise supposedly offers a social safety-net, cradle to grave. But it is full of holes, The Economist reports:

Medical care is free, but most medicine is not. Retirement homes are scarce, and rules that mean residents must give up their pensions and homes put off many, since these are often a lifeline for younger relatives in equally distressed circumstances. So old people can be seen on the streets of Havana selling newspapers and peanuts, or recycling cans. They are scrubbing floors in affluent homes or cooking for a growing number of private restaurants and bakeries.

A new survey explored in the New York Times offers a telling look at the gap between the hopes of average Cubans and the priorities of the ruling elite, The American Interest notes:

A hunger for economic opportunity. An embrace of tourism. Hope in a new era of normalized relations with the United States (right). These are some of the predominant sentiments expressed in a rare survey of 840 Cubans conducted in the country late last year by an independent research group, asking for opinions on topics from free speech to diplomatic ties to crime. […]

And yet Cubans seemed to have little faith in their government’s capacity to deliver on those goals. Only three in 10 felt the economy would improve in the next three years. And just 13 percent said the current economy was good or excellent. Three-quarters of Cubans believed they must be careful in saying what they think, at least sometimes.

“The survey offers other revealing data: over half of Cubans polled want to leave the country, with a whopping 70% expressing a desire to move to the U.S.,” AI adds. “This is, of course, a stark rebuke to the Castro legacy and Fidel’s dream of a nationalist, independent Cuba free of American influence.”

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