Thursday, December 29, 2016

2017: ‘Muy malo’ for Cuba

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For 10 years, Raul has benefited a lot from having Fidel around. Fidel always showed up at the big celebrations or wrote a column.
Forget that. It won’t be pretty in 2017, as we see in this report from the AP:
Castro must manage these twin economic and diplomatic challenges during a year of transition. The 85-year-old general has promised to hand over the office in early 2018 to a successor, widely expected to be Miguel Diaz-Canel, a 56-year-old official with neither the Castro name nor revolutionary credentials. The change will occur without Castro’s older brother Fidel, the revolutionary leader whose largely unseen presence endowed the system he created with historical weight and credibility in the eyes of many Cubans before he died last month at 90.
“Even if those two events hadn’t taken place — Trump’s victory and Fidel’s death — 2017 was going to be a very difficult year for Cuba,” said Cuban economist Omar Everleny Perez, a visiting professor at Keio University in Tokyo.
Cuba publishes few credible economic statistics, but experts expect the country to end this year with gross domestic product growth of 1 percent or less. It maintained a rate close to 3 percent from 2011-2015.
 
By the way, it’s nice to see an analyst admit that Cuba produces very little credible economic data. This is why so many have been skeptical of health care or literacy gains boasted by Cuba.
Back to the economy.
Indeed, there are tourists but it does not seem to help the Cuban economy. This is because Cubans have very little to gain from these hotels or restaurants where tourists are spending their dollars.   
Add to this the mismanagement of Cuba’s economy and you have profits that end up in the Castro accounts rather than the pockets of the Cuban people.
We are not saying that this is new. Cuba has always been for the benefit of Castro and the gang that protects them. However, this is the first time that they are going to do without a USSR subsidy, EU loans, cheap Venezuela oil, or a U.S. president willing to go around the embargo. 
It will be Raul vs reality in 2017 and the Cuban elites don’t have a clue of what will hit them. There is no one waiting to bail them out anymore.   
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