Alejandro Gil: Crisis, hunger and internal tensions: The fall of Cuba’s economy minister highlights the island’s decline

He was the senior official who had led the Cuban economy since 2018 and his management was a complete failure. All the recovery plans he announced failed, including the so-called “ordering task” of 2021, which had promised the Cuban people reform through the end of the dual currency and a review of prices. As a result, inflation increased and the crisis deepened, leading to the largest migration exodus in the island’s history. The dismissal of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Planning Alejandro Gil Fernández, ordered ten days earlier by President Miguel Díaz-Canel, highlights a collapse in which various factors are mixed: the food emergency, the disintegration of strategic sectors, according to analysts and former ministers such as According to his sister, Maria Victoria Gil, sugar production is almost non-existent, the fiscal deficit is 18.5% higher than the previous decade and the government machinery is under strain.

It was just her, a popular Cuban presenter, the face of television. from the great view For 29 years and today settled in Tenerife, she said that her brother was “the most hated man in Cuba”. Gil Fernandez was in charge of delivering the worst news in recent years. Nevertheless, Díaz-Canel publicly congratulated him on his 60th birthday on 6 February, in addition to numerous other messages from economists, political leaders, Communist Party members, and ministerial staff. “Sending another hug to Alejandro Gil Fernandez on his birthday,” Ruler’s ex-former wrote on Twitter. It was the second hug he had sent her in a few days, as he had sent her another hug on the day of her dismissal.

In 2018 Gil Fernández from Villa Clara, like Díaz-Canel, was promoted to Minister of Economy in the same year that the current president assumed the presidency of the country. If Diaz-Canel came to replace the eighty-year-old Raul Castro, Gil Fernandez took over the position that was until now held by 82-year-old Ricardo Cabris. Both, less than sixty years old, were part of not only a transfer of powers, but also a generational and image change. For the first time, the perpetrators of the 1959 revolution did not get the highest positions in the country.

When he took office, Cuba’s economy was not a very favorable sector, but it was less arid than it is now. The economic reforms that began with Raúl Castro’s coming to power, although they did not solve the structural problems of the economy, meant a relief, especially with the birth of the early private sector, the rise of self employment and some openness to foreign investment. In Cuba, which was going through the process of resuming relations with the United States, and where every week a famous person Like Paris Hilton or Beyoncé, the scenario seemed promising. It is unclear what would have happened if Donald Trump had not stopped Obama’s policy toward the island. Some believe the Cuban people will live in better conditions and others are not convinced by the idea of ​​seeing Old Havana transformed into Karl Lagerfeld’s catwalk. But the truth is that whatever came later intensified the poverty of the Cuban people.

Pavel Vidal, an economist who works at the Central Bank of Cuba (BCC), confirms that Gil Fernández was responsible for the first phase in which many of the impulses of the reforms initiated by Raúl Castro had already taken off. “Those first years of Díaz-Canel were of considerable stagnation, he had little momentum in structural reforms, there was not much room for action at that time.”

He now leaves behind a position that will be occupied by Joaquín Alonso Vázquez, unless Gil Fernández, then Minister-President of the Central Bank of Cuba, leaves Cubans a worse off country. “The country was in a better situation in 2018 than in 2024,” says Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva, former director of the Center for Studies of the Cuban Economy at the University of Havana. He says, “Cuba received about four million tourists, the purchasing power of the population was high, there were no difficulties with fuel, the fiscal deficit in relation to GDP was 8%, the basic basket was normally distributed. ” Now Gil Fernandez is leaving a country in a much more unfavorable context.

Cuban economist Mauricio de Miranda, senior professor at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Cali, Colombia, finds it difficult to identify any achievements of Gil Fernández as a minister. “He’s probably a nice person, I don’t know. He is seen as a populist. But those qualities are not enough to become a minister,” he explains. “Some of his statements often demonstrate weak economic training and an attachment to oft-repeated dogmas. The mistakes are enough to explain his dismissal, although I’m almost certain he did nothing more than follow the line he was given.

Everlaney, for its part, has always valued Gil Fernandez for his support in opening up the private sector with the creation of MSMEs, small and medium-sized businesses, which were approved with legal recognition in 2021 after decades of prohibition , although there are still many restrictions. Which the government imposes on these enterprises. “In his speeches he defended them strongly,” says the economist. “It was flexible and prompt in its approval of MSMEs, reaching more than 10 thousand approvals in two years.”

Experts agree that one of the worst economic decisions Gil Fernández was involved in was the so-called “ordering task” of 2021, which involved pulling Cuba out of economic stability, ending the monetary duality, and introducing convertible peso or CUC. Demands were made to abolish labor, and to implement reforms in prices, wages and pensions. “It was also the turn to try to resolve the negative consequences of that failed monetary reform,” says Vidal. “It was a big challenge for him and I think he didn’t handle it well. I think this is a significant failure of the entire economic policy design in Cuba. He also believes that the former ministers were part of a program of measures that were taken year after year, measures that hit at the same thing, partial measures, that were supposed to impose certain patches in certain situations, the socialist state. The company, thinking that the Cuban model could be improved, the idea of ​​not changing too much, not doing deep reform but looking for that improvement was emphasized many times And that doesn’t work.

However, economists do not believe that, by comparison, Gil Fernández has been an absolutely worse economy minister than previous ones. “I can’t tell you that his performance was worse than the previous minister, but the situation he went through was very adverse,” says Everleny. From 2018 to today, Cuba has endured heavy-handed policies from the Trump administration, including the coronavirus pandemic. We have seen the impact of the delay and the resulting decline in tourism, a fundamental sector of the economy from which it has not recovered. , Additionally, the adverse international situation marked by reduction in oil aid and wars from Venezuela and Mexico has affected world economies.

In a country with high centralization of powers, it is impossible to identify a criminal for the economic situation he is experiencing. “He is not solely responsible for the economic consequences he has left,” says Everleny. “Cuba has high centralization, which means that key decisions are approved by higher levels. Power structures are designed in such a way that no one takes a different path, and I’m not talking about a change in the system, but a change in the way the economy operates, such as a new role for the market. . Regarding Gil Fernandez’s desire for any change, the economist believes that, if there was a change, he never demonstrated it with results. “I’m talking about the real changes that are needed to get out of stagnation,” he said, defending the country’s official position.

Gil Fernández as well as other officials were removed from their posts, such as Food Industry Minister Manuel Santiago Sobrino Martínez and Science Minister Alba Rosa Pérez Montoya. Although no one expected the dismissals, at the beginning of the year Raúl Castro urged leaders who were not qualified to leave their positions: “Those who do because of insufficient capacity, lack of preparation or simply because they are tired , They are not ready for this.” Based on the standards required at this time, he will have to hand over his post to any other colleague willing to take over the job,” he said. But in the midst of economic reforms, the dismissal of Gil Fernández never ceases to surprise and cause many speculations: why now and not earlier? Why now, in the midst of an economic crisis with no end in sight?

New look and internal inconsistencies

Some explain this by saying that the government, led by Diaz-Canel, wanted to wash its face of the discontent that was aroused among the Cuban people by the announcement of a package of measures to mitigate long-term damage to the economy, but That means a direct blow to the pockets of the population, increasing the price of gasoline by more than 500%, increasing electricity rates, liquefied gas cylinders and water, measures, although they were announced starting last February 1, by the government. Had to delay. “I believe that a pawn needs to be sacrificed on the chess table so that the blame for the economic disaster falls on the Ministry of Economy and Planning, everyone knows that not one person is responsible for the economic crisis that is being experienced It is possible.” A culprit had to be named and it was Gil Fernandez’s turn, but everyone agrees that the big problem in Cuba does not lie nor is it in the hands of any one person.

“There are two hypotheses,” says Vidal. “After so many failures and all the bad things that have happened to the economy, all the promises that have not been kept in terms of recovery, it is important to start with a clean slate.” Want to be able to, it could be a strategy to try to find a culprit and give an opinion.” With the new image, new ministers and new policies and create a little hope, which I don’t think works anymore. ,” he says. “It’s kind of like, the Cuban government has done this on previous occasions and all governments do this when things don’t work.” Vidal also believes that there may be some kind of contradiction between the National Assembly of People’s Power, where according to him, there were disputes about the budget figures being presented last year and measures that did not correspond there. Were. was announced by Prime Minister Manuel Marrero.”

However, Maria Victoria assured in statements youtuber Darwin Santana said that his brother had significant disagreements with the highest levels of government over economic policies. “He is troubling because he has clearly opposed a whole series of measures that are going to be implemented in our country and which are designed to cause even more harm to the Cuban people,” he said. Said.

Gil Fernández, from now on, will not be the man who says that there is no milk for the children, that the basic basket is “a distortion that we have to correct,” that “the economy is in a complicated situation,” that the country needs money from abroad. There is no credit for buying food, nor will he be the one who after bad news tells people to keep the faith in revolution and socialism. His sister Maria Victoria has said that she learned from her sister-in-law that Gil Fernandez was “very hurt” and “very disappointed” by the dismissal. “It is public knowledge that the Cuban government, throughout its tragic history, has used its leaders as it wished and, when they are no longer useful to them, when they turn to each other and cease to be puppets are, they disappear and despise them,” the presenter wrote on Facebook. “The only thing my brother has done is work tirelessly, trying to save the unsaveable.”

Follow all the information from El PAÍS America Facebook And xor in our weekly newspaper,

(TagstoTranslate)America(T)Latin America(T)Cuba(T)Caribbean(T)Miguel Diaz-Canel(T)Economic crisis(T)Food crisis(T)Poverty(T)Migration(T)Political dismissal

Source link

About Admin

Check Also

Skyrocketing costs of going back to school suffocate many families in Argentina

In General Pico, a medium-sized city in central Argentina, police officers in cars, on motorcycles ... Read more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *