Cuba's regime recently acknowledged the failures of its centralized system – eyeing the growing list of communist countries shifting successfully toward free-market economies. As capitalism makes inroads, will political freedoms follow?
Cuba's tacit admission that its communist economy is failing marks the end of an era.
It follows the eclipse of similarly stultified economies in three other lands of lingering communist persuasion – China, Vietnam, and North Korea. All have either moved, or appear to be moving, to free, market-based economies while retaining a communist structure to continue harsh political control.
Cuba may be no exception. It recently announced plans to dump hundreds of thousands of government workers into a suddenly authorized private sector. That doesn’t mean democracy is right around the corner. Though the brothers Castro, Fidel and Raúl, may soon be passé, some Cuba-watchers expect their successor may be a tough, but as yet unidentified, general from the powerful military who will use the Communist Party structure to maintain authoritarian rule.
So while some international critics, like the delusional Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, continue to rant against capitalism and America, aging communist regimes seek the fruits of capitalism’s prospering systems while retaining power with communism’s political infrastructure. It is an intriguing period in history.