LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
June 1st, 2019
THIRD TIME'S THE END
Gifted oil: Cuba's main export
Upon joining the COMECON in 1972, Cuba was assigned an
quota that in the 1980s came to 13 million tons per year.
Because of its small size, the Cuban economy only consumed
between 10 and 11 million tons, and Moscow did not even send
that excess oil to the Island. Rather, it sold it on the
capitalist market and gave Castro the proceeds.
Official statistics say that in the 1980s
accounted for 73% of all exports, and almost 90% of the foreign
currency obtained by the country. False. According to what I
was told, off the record, by Humberto Pérez, then President of
the JUCEPLAN (now the Ministry of Economy), in the mid 1980s the
re-exportation of Soviet oil actually exceeded sugar exports.
In that decade the global price of sugar ranged between 5 and 12
cents a pound – but Moscow paid Cuba 45 cents. Even buying
sugar at nine to ten times its market price, and other Cuban
products, the trade deficit with the USSR was still
I still keep, on a yellowed teletype sheet, a 1995 report by the
AFP agency revealing that between 1961 and 1991 the total Cuban
trade deficit was 24.687 billion dollars, of which some 20
billion were with the USSR. Between 75% and 85% of all Cuban
foreign trade was with the USSR and its satellites. Between 1984
and 1991 alone the Cuban trade imbalance came to 16.084 billion
dollars, peaking at 2.74 billion in 1989, and almost all of it
was with the USSR.
With respect to Venezuela, the money given to the Castros
exceeded the 37.2 billion cited, but the secrecy surrounding
Caracas-Havana relations, typical of mafiosi, makes it
impossible to quantify it. Chávez and Maduro used state
institutions –such as Bandes, Fondes and others– to issue
massive loans that Havana never returned.
For some 15 years Venezuela delivered more than 115,000 barrels
of oil per day to Cuba. According to Horacio Medina, a former
executive at PDVSA, Caracas often sent 125,000 barrels a day to
Cuba, which, added to the 50,000 produced on the island, came to
175,000 barrels. But Cuban consumption was less than 120,000
barrels, so the Castros exported the surplus, which gave it up
to 1 billion dollars a year.
Either its productive forces are liberated, or Cuba will be
Ironically, today the "Empire" is the largest source of foreign
revenue in Cuba, with
worth around 7 billion dollars a year. But it is not enough. And
it will be even more insufficient if US sanctions are put into
effect. The parasitic Castroist economy requires no less than 15
billion dollars a year to maintain the country's standard of
living in recent years, already precarious. Where will that come
The country produces and exports less and less. It even has to
import sugar to meet its commitments to China. In 2018 it
imported 40,000 metric tons of sugar from France. Nickel
production fell from 72,530 tons in 2011 to less than 50,000 in
The exploitation of doctors under slave-like conditions abroad
met a disastrous end, with 8,000 doctors bolting to Brazil.
Tourism nets little, because for each dollar received 65 cents
leave the island to import what is necessary to keep the
industry running. And Washington announced that it is going to
crack down on furtive tourism by Americans on the island.
According to credible sources, the talks in Norway between
Venezuela's dictatorship and opposition were an initiative of
Raúl Castro, who was willing to give up Maduro as long as they
continued to send him free oil and keep Cuban doctors in that
country. But if the opposition pacts with the chavista regime,
the resulting transitional government will not be able to give
Cuba more oil, and Castro II country will have to pay a pretty
penny for it on the world market.
That is why the third time may be the end. There is no third
patron available to bankroll the Caribbean's 'revolutionary'
wastrel. Cubans wonder: if there are acute shortages now, with
Maduro still in power, and sending dollars and oil to the
island, what will the crisis be like when he falls? The second
"Special Period" already affecting the population is going to
give way to a third, and it will be even worse.
The conclusion is obvious: either private property is restored,
and Cuba's productive forces are liberated, or Cuba will become
another Burundi, Chad or Sudan, with its people dependent on
international public charity.
If el chavismo falls, the Stalinist-Castro model will have come
to an end. There will be changes in Cuba. The Castroist
leadership is likely to embrace a Chinese or Vietnamese
dictatorial model, but that is a subject for another analysis.