We at Barbados Free Press were enjoying a few fine bottles of Banks and Carib Beer last Saturday night, when as so often happens, the conversation turned towards Cuba. Once again we found ourselves left with the two basic questions: “What fundamental changes will follow the death of Fidel Castro?” And most importantly, “What effect will this have on Barbados?”
BFP Believes that Castro’s Revolution Will Die With Him.
Beyond any doubt, the Cuban economy as we know it today is unsustainable. No longer buttressed by the heavily subsidized Soviet goods of the Cold War, Cuba has become mired in the ‘Special Period’ – a lovely euphemism denoting more than a decade of food and energy crises, rolling blackouts and crumbling infrastructure. A decade where basic medicine has been unavailable to ordinary Cubans – contrary to the propaganda so readily accepted by sympathetic media and governments. The 'Special Period' has been a time of meager subsistence for the vast majority of Cubans, where a few aspirins are as out of reach as the idea of eating some meat once a day.
Cuba has already relaxed some of its foreign ownership laws in an effort to combat these shortages, and this trend will only accelerate as a means of deterring full economic collapse. Cuba is hungry for an influx of stable foreign currency, and investors are already lining up in anticipation – many of them ex-Cubans now living in the USA and elsewhere.
Cuba’s isolationism will end with Castro, and wise investors are already poised to act quickly.
Nothing will please us more than to see the Cuban people freed from an oppressive, totalitarian regime. However, the joy and excitement we feel for our Cuban neighbors is tempered with a sense of concern for the economic health of our own island. Are our industries prepared for a new and larger competitor, perhaps even a super-competitor, in the Caribbean?
The threat that Cuba presents to our tourism industry cannot be overstated.
Thanks to the USA’s embargo and travel ban, Barbados has not had to vie with Cuba for American tourism dollars. With a dramatic resurgence in the Cuban tourism industry, and an increased number of Cuban resorts catering to both the low and high-end tourists from the USA and Europe, can Barbados still be competitive? We already lose significant visitors to Cuba from the Canadian and European markets. Without the American-legislated “head-start” how will we fare?
Barbados property values may face significant pressure when Cuban lands open for vacation and retirement developments.
Think about the potential impact of over 100,000 square kilometers of Cuban lands being dumped onto the free market at rock bottom prices in an attempt to jump-start Free Cuba's economy and foreign investment.
What measures can be taken to safeguard our property values and investments in Barbados? And in the long run, what threat does Cuba pose to our tiny manufacturing industry? What if Cuba adopts a sugarcane – ethanol project with the economies of scale that only such a large land mass can provide?
Cuba's Freedom Could Arrive Suddenly – Like The Crumbling of The Berlin Wall
For too long, a brutal dictator and a brutal ideology have kept the Cuban people sequestered from the outside world. Soon, maybe even next week, this will change – and we couldn’t be happier for our Cuban friends.
But we worry for Barbados. We worry because it seems that, with the exception of a few friends enjoying each other’s company on a Saturday night, nobody is talking about what could be the most powerful event to hit Caribbean economies since 1960: a Free Cuba.
posted by Clive
Meet Clive, The Newest Barbados Free Press Writer
Clive J. is a full-time student at a major university, who will be graduating with a degree in Latin American Studies and North-South Relations. He has traveled extensively throughout Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean and has visited Cuba 14 times in the last five years.
We are delighted to have bribed Clive to "volunteer" for the Barbados Free Press team as he brings a broader Caribbean perspective to our website. Clive has authored (meaning "actually been paid for") over forty newspaper and magazine articles in both the English and Spanish language media.
He tells us that his favourite spot in Barbados is a little beach at the bottom of Cherry Tree Hill. (Robert knows why, but he isn't saying anything!) We can also tell you that Clive is a big fan of Mount Gay "Extra Old" Rum and that there are few who can keep up with him doing shots on a Saturday… or a Tuesday… night. (Will someone please get me another aspirin?)