Cuba is attempting to salvage its failing economy by making last ditch efforts to scale back on socialism, The Miami Herald reports. Leaders insist picking away at socialism is the only way to save it, but some experts say their efforts are just a desperate attempt to stave off the inevitable.
According to The Miami Herald, Cuba's workplace cafeterias are closing, President Raúl Castro keeps saying the well-off shouldn't get the same subsidies as the poor, and now there are rumblings that one of the stalwart vestiges of the revolution— the ration booklet—has outlived its usefulness.
"I think what they are trying to do is prepare the people for a hard landing," said Cuba expert Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado of the University of Nebraska. "The government is really saying in so many words: We've got limited resources and can only do so much. I think they are stuck.''
President Castro has maintained that the country overspends and the economy needs to be repaired. "Nobody, no individual nor country, can indefinitely spend more than she or he earns. Two plus two always adds up to four, never five," Castro said in August. "Within the conditions of our imperfect socialism, due to our own shortcomings, two plus two often adds up to three."
Earlier this year, the Cuban government announced that 2009 economic growth projections had dropped from 2.5 percent to 1.7 percent. Last year, when the rest of the world reeled from the global financial meltdown, Cuba was hit with three hurricanes that cost $10 billion.
Cuba was suddenly forced to find ways to trim the fat from its inefficient economic model. "Cuba goes through cycles of strict ideological code, but that code does not function. That code leads to corruption, leads to the black market and leads to economic collapse," Baruch College professor Ted Henken told The Miami Herald. "So they shift back and forth, and they've been doing that for 45 or 50 years."