Socialism is iconic for its monumental suffering and death – it is like watching an episode of The View but without the labor camps and price controls. The deadly ideology has also created one of the most famous recipes in the culinary arts. It was such a popular diet that tens of millions of people were forced to eat it over the last century. What do you need? Nothing. That is right. The famous “where’s the beef?” old ladies from the Wendy’s commercial had nothing on the victims of socialism who merely wondered, “Where’s the food?” Cuba is going through another taste test experiment where there is not enough food, prompting the government to encourage the public to grow their own produce. Once again, another socialist paradise is experiencing food insecurity by enduring a countrywide shortage.
Not Havana Good Time
Collectivized agriculture had already been a failure before the Coronavirus pandemic. For the last couple of years, the government initiated nationwide rationing of cultural staples, including beans, chicken, eggs, and rice. Although the Communists blamed President Donald Trump and his administration’s tightening of the trade embargo, small business owners agreed that the nation’s fundamentals are more of a problem.
Because of its immense tourism sector, Cuba had been able to survive on importing two-thirds of its food. With the public health crisis wiping out this crucial industry, the Communists no longer have the $2 billion they need annually to pay for its staples. The leadership announced that it would cut its food imports budget; rice accounts for about $127 million of its spending. For the food that it does produce, such as pork and tomatoes, the output is down as much as 18% due to dwindling supplies.
Perhaps the government will finally understand that incentives matter.
“We have to establish the incentives for people working, so they can make a living off what they produce, so they want to produce, so they want to develop new products,” Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said during a policy meeting.
Until then, the Communists are keeping the status quo by maintaining price controls and prohibiting private ownership. Instead, the Communist government is urging citizens to produce more of their own food. Even if they live in large cities, officials say households should use every space, from backyards to balconies, to grow fruits and vegetables. Would it not be easier to remove the hallmarks of socialism that plague the island nation? That would be as repellent to a socialist as getting him or her to enroll in an Econ 101 class.
The Coronavirus has officially not affected Cuba as severely as other Latin American nations, with more than 2,000 cases and a death toll of fewer than 100. Of course, these numbers come from the Cuban government, which is not exactly the most transparent institution. So, who knows what it is really like on the ground in Havana?
José Ramón Machado Ventura, the deputy leader of the Cuban Communist Party, said the nation must become self-sustainable immediately.
“Cuba can and must develop its program of municipal self-sustainability definitively and with urgency, in the face of the obsessive and tightened U.S. blockade and the food crisis COVID-19 will leave,” he told state-run media.
Is the Cuban economy about to embark upon another Special Period but without the blackouts?
After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Cuban economy was in ruins. Since it no longer received subsidies from Russia, the island economy cratered 35%, resulting in a population going hungry and the energy grid faltering. The situation became so dire that many people had to eat anything they could find, from the peacocks in the Havana zoo to domestic cats on the streets. Epidemics were common, including a rare disease that caused blindness and affected the spinal cord. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest the government’s actions, which were comprised of rationing and controls. By 1994, there was a considerable exodus, forcing people to create makeshift rafts and boats and flee to Florida.
Capitalism and Socialism in the Pandemiconomy
During the height of the pandemiconomy, there was a nationwide shortage of toilet paper, and a lot of household staples were increasingly difficult to find at the supermarket. Leftists had their revenge – momentarily – because the footage of bare grocery stores was something you would see in ravaged socialist hellholes, like Venezuela. Indeed, many free markets reported shortages of necessities. But what happened in the proceeding weeks? Capitalism sprang into action, and companies ramped up production, filling up supermarket shelves with everything you needed, from bread to pork to toilet paper. It was an exercise of what would happen if socialist states adopted even a modicum of free-market principles. If Venezuela or Cuba were to ditch the price controls, Caracas and Havana would witness speedy relief, and the hungry public could finally start filling their stomachs with nutrition, not red propaganda. Victims of socialism no longer want this diet. Pass the rice and beans – and freedom!
Read more from Andrew Moran.
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