Cuba the economic example

Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, gave the welcome remarks at the panel discussion.

Head of the Department of Government, Sociology and Social Work at the Cave Hill campus, Dr. Tennyson Joseph, believes that as the global economic crisis continues to deepen, the example of Cuba will begin to register itself more and more on the regional consciousness as having more direct practical relevance.

Joseph expressed this view on Monday while participating in a panel discussion on the 40th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between CARICOM and Cuba at the 3Ws Oval Pavilion at the University of the West Indies.

The political scientist said: “I wish to suggest that the example of Cuba will present itself to us as more and more relevant the sooner we accept that the current crisis of the global economy is not just episodic, it is structural. I believe that we are grossly underestimating the nature of the crisis.”

Joseph charged that no government in the Caribbean had yet announced and treated the crisis as a possible end to capitalism as we knew it. He further charged that all of their current responses were premised on the notion that the crisis was short term and things would soon get better.

Joseph argued that once the regional leaders accepted that the crisis was a deep structural crisis, they may be forced to more closely look at the Cuban experience.

He pointed out that one of the main lessons from the current structural crisis of capitalism was that the region cannot develop an economy which is too dependent on North America and Europe.

“The signal lesson of bananas and now tourism is that when the North Atlantic economies are in crisis, our economies are automatically drawn into crisis too. This is especially true of tourism, which depends on luxury spending. When people lose their jobs and their houses, travelling is the last thing that they can afford to do, or even want to do.

“We have also seen how the economic crisis in North America and Europe has dried up the foreign direct investment in hotels and other tourism related products,” Joseph said.

The UWI lecturer suggested that the lesson of Cuba would assist the region to build a new economy away from its traditional dependence. He pointed out that the new economy must be based on the creativity of the region’s people, and not on the well being of the North Atlantic economies.

“We must invest in the people to unlock their talents and productivity. So sports and creative industries, higher education and science and technology must be seen as the new engines of economic growth and national development.”†(NC)†

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