Thursday, June 12, 2008

The United States of Cuba?

In perhaps one of the biggest “we’l see” moments of the 21st century, Raul Castro has implemented his first socialist-challenging reform in Cuba. Since coming to power in February of this year, Raul has implemented several reforms, mostly involving the lifting of restrictions. For instance, in April, Cubans were allowed, for the first time, to own mobile phones. He has lifted several other restrictions allow Cubans to rent cars, stay in hotels and buy DVDs.

The most recent reform, however, involves abolishing equal pay for all citizens. Raul has proposed a system in which workers would receive bonuses for meeting and exceeding targets. To say the least, this challenges the fundamental socialist framework Cuba has utilized since the beginning of the revolution in 1959.

The world economic system, especially in the period between 1940s and 1990s, was divided between two primary ideologies, capitalism and communism. To be fair, both contained reasonable ideas. On the one hand, communism embraced equality, whereas capitalism encouraged workers, rewarding them the harder and longer they worked. At the end of the day (well actually… of the war), communism did not work, whether due to the inherent selfishness of humans, the incomplete and improper implementation of the system or poor leadership, amongst many other possible reasons.

Consequently, in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union, the world witnessed a massive shift towards liberal economies. From the breakaway states of Russia to South America to South East Asia, new markets were opening everywhere. Even China, the only real communist power left, was showing major cracks with its Special Economic Zones, and booming manufacturing centers. It no longer was a bipolarized world, with few exceptions; capitalism was the world’s economic system.

Yet one state had always held out, a seemingly perpetual thorn in the side of capitalist America. Unlike other communist states, formed out of revolution with clear communist ambitions, Cuba’s revolution is (yes, it is still considered to be ongoing) one that was founded on the premise of ousting a corrupt government that had more or less sold the country to America. It wasn't until the educated leaders of the revolution, namely Che and Fidel, reacted to American hostility (caused by the losses its companies suffered stemming from the revolution) by implementing a Marxist socialist system. (Some have suggested that Fidel and especially Che always had socialist designs for Cuba, however, it is unproven).

Is this newest reform going to end 49 years of revolution? Can a socialist country that has survived the fall of communism, boast higher literacy rates than the United States, have total universal health care and one of the most self-sufficient Agriculture systems in the world continue to survive with economic liberalization pressures coming from every angle?

…“We’l see”

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