ECLAC: Blockade impedes economic growth in Cuba

Source:  cubadebate
July 30 2015

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), yesterday July 29, noted Cuba’s positive economic growth thus far this year, while emphasizing that the U.S. blockade continues to impede the country’s progress.

The blockade is still a formidable obstacle

The blockade is still a formidable obstacle

During a press conference here, ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena was asked about Cuba’s economic perspectives. She commented that, although progress has been significant, “The blockade is still a formidable obstacle.”

Bárcena told PL that despite the easing of restrictions in some areas, including tourism, trade and others “The truth is that the blockade continues to increase costs.”

The cost of the blockade to Cuba in 2014 was approximately 117 billion dollars

She added that the organization had submitted a report to the UN General Assembly which estimates the cost of the blockade to Cuba in 2014 as approximately 117 billion dollars.

“In any event, we believe that there will be more activity in 11 areas, which are going to attract foreign investment, such as food processing, bio-chemicals, renewable energy, construction, and operations at the new Port of Mariel,” Bárcena said.

She noted that Cuba had surpassed ECLAC’s initial projections, showing growth of 4% during the first part of the year.

Although deceleration is generalized around the region, the Southern Cone sub-region contracted at a rate of 0.4%, while Central America and Mexico grew only 2.8%. The Caribbean as a whole posted a growth rate of only 1.7%.

Panama lead regional expansion with a 6% rate, followed by Antigua and Barbuda (5.4%), the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua (both 4.8 %), she said.

Source:  ECLAC: Blockade impedes economic growth in Cuba  cubadebate

One thought on “ECLAC: Blockade impedes economic growth in Cuba

  1. The executive secretary of ECLAC is unquestionably right. The criminal economic blockade against the Cuban people and their revolution has been and is a “formidable obstacle” to Cuba’s growth and development. The latter despite its steady progress.

    Indeed, as ECLAC’s executive secretary points out in 2014, just last year alone, the US blockade imposed costs of US$117b on the Cuban people. For the sole purpose of indicating the overall costs of the blockade on the Cuban people, if we should assume that its average costs for the last 54 years was its estimated average in 2014 according to ECLAC, the blockade would have imposed an overall estimated cost of more than $6 trillion on the Cuban people. To be fair, it is unlikely that the average annual cost of the blockade to Cuba people would have been the same over the last 54 years for a number of reasons such as the years of socialist subsidies from the former Soviet Union and other socialist countries for Cuba’s imports and exports, the variation in the relative prices of Cuba’s imports from and exports to capitalist countries, the variation in the world price of crude oil particularly after the collapse of the former Soviet Union and prior to the rise of Chavez’s crude oil subsidy to Cuba which still exists among other factors. In other words even the rather crude though enormous estimate of $6 trillion is in all likelihood unable to capture the real costs of the blockade in pure monetary terms not to mention the share day to day hell of inconveniences they impose on farms, factories, schools, hospitals and other institutions within Cuba.

    The point here which further validates the statement of ECLAC’s executive secretary that the blockade still represents a ” formidable obstacle” to Cuba’s development is that there are mouthpieces of imperialism out there who have been saying for decades that Fidel Castro and the Cuba leaders really don’t want the blockade lifted because it acts as a political asset for them to blame all the problems of the revolution on America.

    Indeed, these voices are still being heard in the US and even among the “dissident community” within Cuba.
    How absurd can the human mind become? Is absurdity infinite? First of all, since the imposition of the blockade by the US government Fidel Castro has been along with all the leaders of the revolution perhaps the most outspoken advocate for the ending of the imperialist blockade against his country. If indeed, the cynics are right, why would he be so stridently opposed to the blockade wherever he went on the planet including at the UN when he was head of state? Secondly, as indicated earlier, the blockade has bled Cuba of trillions of dollars over the decades and still does. How could this enormous drainage of resources benefit Fidel Castro and the revolution? Think about the absurdity of the cynics for a minute. As a result of the US blockade when Cuba buys a tractor from a Japanese or European company it has to pay maybe 2 or 3 times what it would pay for a comparable tractor from an American company due to the distance that transportation costs impose on the price of the tractor. The same thing is by and large true for just about any other imports be it computers, medicines, fertilizers, rice, meats, Soyabeans, spare parts, buses, aero planes, machines, cars, steel and a range of other products that are required to manage a modern economy.likewise when Cuba exports its products such as sugar, nickel, its famous a Havana Club rum, tourism and other products to Japan, Europe, Africa and elsewhere, the prices of these exports become relatively more elevated partly to compensate for the more elevated import prices and partly to cover higher transportation costs to these longer destination markets. In all of this, it should never be forgotten that the US was the largest export and import markets for Cuba prior to the revolution. As such, to the cynics who lied and continue to lie about the blockade being a political asset to blame the US for all the failures of the revolution, actually the very opposite is true. First, the closer distance of US export and import markets would save Cuba not Fidel or Raul Castro or any Cuban leader trillions of dollars over the last 54 years. Indeed, according to ECLAC, it would have saved Cuba an estimated $117 billion in 2014 alone! Just think about how many tractors, computers, schools, hospitals, houses in huge shortage, buses, factories, research laboratories and other facilities and infrastructure that the revolution could have invested in or renovated in 2014 had it saved those $117 billion due to the blockade. More importantly, think about the explosive growth rate and many times modern state of the art factories, hospitals, schools, universities and other infrastructure that Cuba would boast today had those trillions of dollars in significantly more expensive imports been invested in the people.

    If in spite of the US blockade, the World Bank ranks Cuba as the number 1 country in Latin America and the Caribbean in terms of Educational achievements and the #1 in terms of per capita spending on education in the world, what would the World Bank say had hundreds of billions more been invested in education over the last five decades in the absence of the criminal blockade? Perhaps they would have had to create a new category at the World Bank to describe Cuba’s achievement!

    Similarly, for a long time now, the WHO ranks Cuba very highly for its achievements in health care services to its people and internationally. More recently, the WHO extended another honor on Cuba’s health achievement as the first country on the planet to have prevented the transmission of the HIV virus from mother to child. What would the WHO say had hundreds of billions more dollars from savings without the US blockade been invested in more state of art hospitals, medical training of doctors, nurses and other health practitioners? Perhaps the WHO would be actively advocating revolutions in other developing countries to at least safeguard the health of their peoples!

    Finally, Cuba’s achievements in medical research is legendary and without dispute except for the diehard gusanos in Miami and elsewhere. Cuba has developed a drug to prevent amputations for diabetic patients, a drug to improve the quality of life for patients with advanced lung cancer among others inspite of the US blockade. Just imagine what more could have been discovered by the creative Cuban medical researchers having more resources invested in their research from savings due to the ending of the blockade. Perhaps humanity would have been closer to a cure for cancer and other terminal diseases since the best medical research minds in Cuba, the US and elsewhere would be able to collaborate freely to do research!

    Housing, transportation and other major challenges to the Cuban revolution and its people would be less problematic since many more billions of dollars and other resources would have been invested in these spheres to alleviate these problems. Many young Cuban professionals would be able to either rent or purchase their own apartments or homes instead of living with their parents due to the existing shortage of housing that has been plaguing the revolution. In short, some of the frustrations of the Cuban people due to shortages and breakdown of buses etc would have been significantly mitigated thus reducing the propaganda of the dissidents within Cuba and their imperialist supporters outside.

    It should be clear from the foregoing that contrary to the customary propaganda that the blockade is a political asset to the leaders of the revolution, it is in fact the other way around, it is a political and ideological asset to the counter revolutionaries within and outside Cuba. The ECLAC executive secretary is right, the blockade is still ” a formidable obstacle” to the progress of Cuba’s development. However, it serves the interests of those who want to defeat the revolution internally and externally. That is precisely why they are worried that with the normalization of relations between the US and Cuba, they may lose perhaps their only remaining asset to defeat the revolution.

    Peace if you are willing to fight for it!

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