Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Communist jalopy creeps to capitalism

The "good" old times are over long time ago.

The communist utopia that Fidel Castro hoped to bring to Cuba with the revolution he led more than 50 years ago has, from all indications, collapsed into a stifling stasis for everyday Cubans.

Most live in the same abode from birth to death, and struggle to maintain either rickety cars imported from the Soviet Union more than two decades ago, or 1950s-era jalopies that, on these shores, would be wheeled out at classic car shows. Few new products or ideas enter Cuba, thanks in part to America's long-running economic embargo, and few Cubans ever see the world beyond their island thanks to Byzantine travel restrictions.

Anyone who is waiting on the edge of their seat for the regime to fall should probably lean back and get comfortable - a popular uprising like those that brought down totalitarian governments from East Germany to Egypt doesn't appear to be in the offing. But there are some indications that Cuba's rulers are opening the door, a tiny bit, to some economic reforms.

A Communist Party gathering in April approved new guidelines that would allow Cubans to buy and sell houses and cars on a limited basis, let private farmers use state land and, possibly, let cooperatives bypass the maze of state bureaucracy and send their products straight to consumers.

While it's barely American-style, go-go capitalism, it's at least a start. Like a stubborn music buff who refuses to part with his eight-track tapes, Cuba is one of the few remaining communist regimes in the world, and the day when it also crumbles seems an inevitability. One can't help believing that we could help hasten its demise by lifting the economic embargo that has been in effect since the Kennedy administration.

Exposure to other cultures and ways of life has proven to be the undoing of other iron-fisted regimes before, and that's why your garden-variety dictator is reluctant to see satellite dishes sprout up on the sides of those drab apartment buildings that seem to be the hallmark of totalitarian societies. As the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once pointed out, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant."

Source: Observer Reporter

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