Kevin Price
Is Cuba following the path of China?
By Kevin Price
December 18, 2010

Recently, long time dictator Fidel Castro (and recent retiree) shocked the world by declaring "communism doesn't work." It would have been great if he had figured that out fifty years ago. Now, Cuba's leaders are applying Castro's declarations to the country's public policy in a series of sweeping reforms.

According to the Associated Press, the "reforms — laid out in a three-page spread in the Communist Party-daily Granma — seem sure to create a society of haves and have-nots in a land that has spent half a century striving for an egalitarian utopia." Of course, Cuba has never been either utopian or egalitarian. No one believes that Castro or his minions lived an existence that was anything similar to the average Cuban. Furthermore, the gap between those who are affluent and those who are not were greater in Cuba than any capitalistic nation. In fact, the measures taken by Cuba actually offers hope to its people that a ladder that can lead to economic growth is in the process of being offered to them. However, those reforms promise to be painful in the short term. The biggest concern is that they are too modest to ever gain serious traction.

Roughly 85 percent of the working population is employed by the government in Cuba. According to AP, "the government will lay off 500,000 workers by the end of March — or one-tenth of the country's workforce — the biggest change in Cuba's economic system since the early 1990s." If this was the end of Cuba's actions, there would be massive deprivation, but the government is also reducing government restrictions. Again, AP notes that "For the first time, Cubans in 83 private activities will be allowed to employ people other than their relatives, and they will be able to sell their services to the state as private contractors. Accountants, currently only permitted to work for the state, can set out on their own, keeping the books for the new businesses."

The government is also cultivating entrepreneurship in an industry that is a natural to the island nation — tourism. New reforms will allow Cubans to rent their homes to travelers and will not have to live on the premises. Furthermore, these home owners are also allowed to hire staff. In fact, even citizens who are allowed to live outside of the country "can take part in the economic changes by renting out the cars and homes they leave behind."

In addition, Cuba is violating the centerpiece of communist doctrine by allowing the Central Bank to explore ways to grant loans to small businesses and entrepreneurship. This would have been a pipe dream a few weeks ago, let alone just a year ago. Then again, if the country is going to get economic legs of its own outside of government, small business is going to have to find a way to get the necessary capital to grow. The country's newspaper (Granma) stated that "The decision to loosen the rules on private employment is one of the steps the country has taken in the redesign of its economic policies to increase production levels and efficiency," Amazing, capitalism increases productivity and efficiency? This is Cuba, heads should certainly roll.

The devil is in the details and, according to the Granma (the Communist Party's newspaper), those are still pending. However, Granma those details promise better days ahead and that these reforms will provide "another opportunity, under the watchful eye of the state" to "improve the quality of life of Cubans."

China started a rather modest path towards capitalism in the late 1990s after control of Hong Kong went back to that nation. China looked "under the hood of Hong Kong" and determined that this thing called capitalism could work. Today, China is the fastest economic power in the world and recently passed Japan for the second greatest economic power. It is amazing what a little free enterprise can do.

It is too early to say what will happen with Cuba and its reforms, but it is clear that the nation is concluding that communism doesn't work. It is ironic that Cuba, like most countries in the world at this time, are moving towards a more free market system, while the US continues its rapid pace towards socialism. It is my hope that our government leaders have an epiphany like the Cubans. I also hope it doesn't require fifty years for them to wake up and see the error of their ways.

© Kevin Price


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Kevin Price

Kevin Price is Publisher and Editor in Chief of

His background is eclectic and includes years of experience in both business and public policy, as well as two decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He was an aide to U.S. Senator Gordon Humphrey (R-NH) and later went on to work in policy areas with some of the nation's leading think tanks including the National Center for Public Policy Research and was part of the Heritage Foundation's Annual Guide to Public Policy Experts... (more)


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