Havana Archdiocesan Paper Sounds Warning on Economy

Priest-Economist Analyzes Castro Policy

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

HAVANA, Cuba, FEB. 2, 2010 (Zenit.org).- According to Father Boris Moreno, a priest of Havana with a master’s in economics, the Cuban economy under Raúl Castro is near collapse.

This was the analysis Father Moreno offered to «Palabra Nuevo,» of the Archdiocese of Havana, in its latest edition.

He suggested that the cause of the dire economic situation is to a large extent the ideology followed by Castro’s government.
The government’s economic policy «has been marked by a lack of definition both of perspective as well as means, kidnapped by the ideological ‘re-centralization’ that intends to maintain at all costs an order of things that drowns the country and that now, faced with the severe world crisis, seems to be taking in water and only has as its arsenal of answers utopian affirmations and readjustment through the acute reduction of expenses that can lead to a socio-economic collapse,» he wrote.

Father Moreno acknowledged various achievements and postponement of «serious bottlenecks in the system,» but said that because of «internal imbalances» and the global recession, «the Cuban economy is now faced with a very worrying environment.»

Less than expected
Father Moreno points out that the economic growth of 1.4% in 2009 is in serious contrast to the 6% foreseen by the Cuban government, which admitted a serious crisis of liquidity and projected a discreet 1.9% for 2010, with measures for saving, cuts in social expenditures, and prioritizing investments in sectors that generate foreign exchange.
In Father Moreno’s opinion, the «plans» of Castro’s economic team are unknown, «perhaps in tune with the prevalence of the ideological [dimension], which has always been given priority over economic rationality.»
Cuba’s main sources of income are the sale of nickel, tourism, the export of services to other countries and the remittances sent by Cubans working abroad.
Nevertheless, the article refers to the «almost unprofitableness of the exploitation of nickel with an 80% fall in prices,» the reduction of income from tourism, and a decrease in remittances because of the economic crisis that has strongly affected the United States, where the majority of emigrated Cubans live.
Income from the work of doctors and other professionals that Cuba offers Venezuela has also dwindled, given the difficulties there due to the fall in oil prices. Hence, the priest contended, Cuba is facing a «delicate and explosive financial exposure,» in which its foreign debt increases, while «several lines of credit have closed and others have become more expensive, aggravating the lack of liquidity and running the risk of insolvency.»

Losing hope
Other topics criticized in Father Moreno’s article are the very low levels of efficiency of Cuban agriculture and industry, as well as the «unwillingness» of the government to «promote business capacities with sustainable reforms.»
Despite the fact that the government seeks to stimulate efficiency with payment for labor performance, productivity decreased by 1.1% in 2009. Bureaucracy and robbery of the state persist to fuel the black market and disincentive because the average salary is $20 per month, in a society accustomed to state paternalism, with free health care and education and subsidized services, he observed.
«Appeals to work hard and efficiently will not succeed in changing the situation,» Father Moreno asserted. «The socio-economic conditions of a country do not change with speeches and decrees. Decisions are imperative.»
The article ends by saying that two and a half years after Raúl Castro’s arrival to power, «no sign is perceived of the promised changes» and «loss of hope has spread.»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation