Cuba Communist Accounting V: Traveler Memoirs of Econ-Caphony, Anachronism, and What’s Good is Bad
Part of the Cuba Communist Accounting Series:
I Cuba Communist Economy Today
II Particular Accounting – Hot Convertibles, Top Professions, and Trickle-Around Economics
III Taxing Casa Particulares and Cubans
IV Cuba Prices from Housing to Bread to Ration Books
V Traveler Memoirs of Econ-o-Caphony, Anachronism, and What’s Good is Bad
What’s Good is Bad
Both Pro and Con
Cuba draws in the world from Hemingway inspirations, revolutionary imagery, x cars, and x dancing. This cigar, rum, and sugar borne island is as sweet as it sounds. Faded, vibrant colors drip off of buildings and animals wander the streets – myself included. It is a melting pot of races, cultures, and economic ideologies. Habana was for a time a mobster run city equipped with rampant corruption and gambling? The rise of Fidel Castro and communism abruptly ended the capitalistic system in favor of totalitarian control – welcomed by some, while others fled the island. Others still were surely imprisoned, executed, and disappeared ala’ typical dictatorship style?
The fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba’s greatest political and economic partner ushered in an era of even greater austerity “(they was extra poor”). Government policy began to allow for looser control to fill the Soviet void. Through the nineties and to the present, the economy as morphed from totalitarian control and only government owned enterprises to a hybrid of communism and capitalism “lite.” Over a hundred different semi private businesses are now permitted. See Parts I to IV for further analysis of the emerging economic prosperities and potential disparities. (Citation, all of the above, Wikipedia).
Bumping along to Vinalles – cigar capital of the road – I was in an antique 4-runner caravan where we periodically stopped for radiator refills of water. About half the car fleet in Cuba is from the years 1965 and prior, judging from my observations. Follow the road side radiator fix, I noticed the driver had a smart phone as a speedometer… the real one long since not working. In Vinalles, oxen plowed tobacco fields observed by Airbnb booked residences. Old and new share the same streets as flows of tourist cash and goods begin to show in the hands of locals.
What’s Good is Bad
One wonderful and terrible feature of this mighty island is the lack of internet – only available at very select locations, costing as high as $5 an hour. This internet detox is both dangerous and delightful. Personally I loose client and personal contact – but how nice not to be checking so much internet and social media garbage. Old cars are cool too, until you realize how slow they are, and then realize how nice it is not to rush everywhere. And the story goes on and on and into a list which due to the good-bad nature of things I combine. I will allow you to come to your own conclusions as to why I feel the way I do in this highly opinionated and subjective list.
Both Pro and Con
Music and noise in the streets, always
Animals in the street
Lack of differences in prices
Whistling communication in the street
Parties in the street
No petty law enforcement
Education / literacy / typical United Nations positive metrics
Low packaging / trash levels for an emerging economy
Healthy and seemingly happy people
Racial and cultural “melt”
Casa particulares (home stays)
Expensive internet, when you need it
Less than amazing food variety
Expensive compared to other emerging economy travel options
Lack of consumer goods variety
Lack of long-term work and living options
I hope you have enjoyed this highly opinionated, subjective, and limited in scope piece – designed to engender you own interests and perhaps capture some useful accounting and economic data during this economic revelucion. Cuba is changing very rapidly – the most recent events include the death of Fidel and radical liberalization of US traveler policies. We may soon even see some changes to the near half-century long US imposed trade embargo with our neighbor that seems to me more like “kinda-communist” then fully red blooded. The time to visit is now.