The Black Market: The Embryonic Free Market

The Black Market: The Embryonic Free Market by Jeff Thomas – International Man

In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed five Cubas.

Pre-Revolution, 1952–1958

In the 1950s, the Cuban people suffered under great oppression from the country’s military dictator, Fulgencio Batista. The great majority of Cubans at that time lived in fear and welcomed regime change. That change came from Fidel Castro and a small band of rebels in 1959. Although the rebels were poorly armed, poorly trained, and by no means expert military strategists, they had a distinct advantage: The Cuban people would get behind nearly anyone who would oust the tyrannical Batista.

The Soviet Years, 1959–1989

Following the revolution, Mister Castro went to New York and appealed to the US government to recognize his leadership. Unfortunately, Mister Batista had been a US government toady and the Mafia was heavily invested in Havana hotels and casinos. Mister Castro had destroyed those cosy relationships, and the US was unquestionably not going to give him its seal of approval.

At that time, Mister Castro was not a communist. In fact, he followed no particular philosophy of governance whatsoever. He merely sought power and was open to whatever offers were on the table that might ensure it.

But he didn’t have to wait long. The USSR realized that Cuba was a real plum, geographically, and, in trade for Cuba declaring itself to be communist, the USSR provided considerable military support. The Soviets also offered to buy Cuba’s main export product—sugar—at three times the going rate. Cuba then entered into an unsound economic system. Although it would lose the productivity of the free-market system, the government would gain the benefits needed by Mister Castro to solidify his power base. (It’s important to note that, although political victimisation still existed, it was below what had existed prior to 1959.)

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