In an article detailing Cuban president Raul Castro’s attempt to “remake the country”, the New York Times seems surprised that the restricted capitalism he is promoting is failing. The Times avers that Castro has made agriculture his top priority, and then discusses how he has given incentives to farmers while denying them access to imports of equipment that would ease their burden.
Last year, an agriculture exchange was born after Castro legalized some small businesses. But the Times claims it is failing because of “waste, poor management, policy constraints, transportation limits, theft.” This does read like government interference, but the Times circuitously defends Castro by quoting Jorge I. Domínguez, vice provost for international affairs at Harvard, who says, bewildered, “It’s the first instance of Cuba’s leader not being able to get done what he said he would. The published statistical results are really very discouraging.”
Well, yes, they would be.
People are aware that Castro’s ban on imports is killing the attempt at capitalism; Ted Henken, a Latin American studies professor at Baruch College, said, “The government is not ready to let go. They are sending the message that they want to let go, or are trying to let go, but what they have is still a mechanism of control.”
Castro has granted farmers land so they can work it, but trucks and tractors routinely break down, and there is often a paucity of fertilizers and even machetes. In 2009 tons of tomatoes rotted when the government agency that was supposed to transport them failed to do so. There is no free market; Castro has a monopoly on any new products.
But you could bet that the Times would find a way to knock capitalism, and they do, quoting a farmer’s union member saying, “Capitalism means higher prices. That’s the problem.”
The Times concludes that the success of Castro’s limited capitalism “may come down to these innovators who inspire others to greater productivity …” This kind of thinking, where entrepreneurs have to find creative solutions to working around the government rather that the government simply getting the hell out of the way, is exactly what the Obama Administration is fomenting here. It fails in Cuba, and it is failing here. But the New York Times will go out of business before it ever admits that unbridled capitalism is the only successful form of economy that lasts.