Caimito, muy bonito

Caimito: a tiny, quiet & authentic seaside village on the South coast of Cuba. Foreign tourists hardly ever go there, for there’s no hotel and the road to reach it, is terrible. The nearest population center is Hector Molina, a village we’ll pass through next during our march to Nueva Paz. If your interests are few and simple and if you’re used to being alone, you’ll love Caimito. The villagers who stay at home live mostly off fishing and some farming. The others work mostly at the sugar-processing plant in Hector Molina.

Havana reminds one of Curaçao 40 years ago. Caimito reminds one of Bonaire 40 years ago. There has always been a link between the islands of the Netherlands Antilles and Cuba. Many Bonairean men left their island in the 19th and first half of the 20th century to work in the cane-fields of Cuba. This established a regular line of contact, resulting in interchange of culture. There are many descendants of Antilleans in Cuba.

Successes of the Cuban Revolution

We have criticized where we felt this was necessary. But let it be stated clearly that the Revolution has had its successes too. In Caimito and in every other tiny village we visited, no matter how remote, there was always electricity and one or other system of clean water supply in all homes. In all homes we visited, from the most humble hovel to the more luxurious residence, there was always a refrigerator and a television-set. Public telephones are widely spread and cheap to use. People complain much about their wages, but apart from in Havana, poverty does not appear to be so bad that people go hungry. Nearly all people are reasonably clothed and many at least can afford some luxuries in clothing and other things.

In Caimito we spoke to a few youngsters and the 18-year old was still attending school daily in Hector Molina. All children go to school for primary and secondary education. Higher education is available to anyone willing and capable. Despite its remoteness, three government busses pass by Caimito daily to pick up and drop off passengers at just one Cuban peso (MN) a ride. A doctor comes to visit Caimito regularly. Health care in general is nearly free.

These are all marvelous services, which you won’t find in the Dominican Republic, for instance. Poverty is worse there too. So, to be fair, there are successes. And it cannot be denied that the Cuban government does look after its people and tries to raise the general standard of living and improve the quality of life.

So, what’s the problem?

Lack of good-will certainly is not the problem in Cuba. The problem is the structure, which curtails freedom, erodes the rightof property and demotivates the people generally, resulting in low and poor quality production. Therefore the question is how long Cuba can keep up providing its marvelous public services financially. An economic collapse is bound to occur.

In capitalism, too, the structure is the problem, not lack of good-will among the people. The economic power concentration mechanisms inherent in capitalism (interest, inflation, morbidity of capital, collateral requirement and others) effectively exclude the masses from capital ownership in the means of production. This leads to an ever widening gap between a rich elite and masses of impoverished people, always giving rise to tension.

Of course, there are other factors involved as well. Laziness, irresponsible living, government corruption all contribute to the problem in both socialism and capitalism. But the point we’re making here is that good-will alone will not give good results as long as wrong structures remain in place. One cannot make the engine of a car run with good-will, if there is a mechanical failure.