Fidel Castro admits the Cuban Revolution is a dismal failure
Add the Cuban Revolution to the list of victims of the global economic crisis. With Cuba on the verge of economic and social disaster, its government announced that more than half a million state workers will be cast adrift to fend for themselves by March 2011. Cuba’s seismic economic shift comes about a week after Fidel Castro told Atlantic reporter Jeffery Goldberg that the “Cuban model” doesn’t work anymore. People familiar with Cuba, considered the last true communist system in the world, say it will take a lot more than laying off superfluous government workers to solve the country’s problems.
Cuban communist party abandons workers
The Cuban government plans to lay off more than half a million public sector workers. To awaken its economy from decades of slumber, more private enterprise will be encouraged in hopes that those let go will be absorbed. The New York Times reports that Cuba’s communist system lacks the resiliency to deal with the aftermath of the global financial crisis and a parade of devastating hurricanes in 2008. Tourism has dried up, the nation’s sugar crop has failed and its citizens are faced with rice shortages. In a statement Monday, Cuban Workers’ Central admitted the nation’s economy was in the toilet and that radical changes must be implemented immediately.
Good luck, slackers
The Cuban layoffs will initially focus on overpaid, unproductive and undisciplined workers, according to an internal Cuban Communist Party document obtained by the Associated Press. Workers at Cuba’s ministries of sugar, public health, tourism and agriculture will be the first to go. Fired workers will be encouraged by Cuban Workers’ Central to form private cooperatives. The government will also try to foist others onto foreign-run companies and joint ventures. The document lists the main challenges for laid off Cubans forced to make it on their own as little experience, low skill levels and a lack of initiative.
Cuba kids itself
Cuban experts are skeptical about the private sector’s ability to absorb fired government workers. Jaime Suchlicki, director of the Institute for Cuban Studies at the University of Miami, told the Wall Street Journal that fired workers have nowhere else to turn. “They won’t be absorbed by the private sector because there is no private sector to absorb them,” he said. Other experts say Cubans who want to start a business face high taxes, lack of credit and foreign exchange, bans on advertising and burdensome government regulations. To help, the government made a list of “authorized” activities for self employment, including toy repairman, music teacher, piñata salesman and carpenter.