World’s Top 15 Economies: CUBA


Cuba

When most people think of the Western Hemisphere‘s only dictatorship, open-market capitalism and economic prosperity aren’t the first things that come to mind. Although the small island nation has been controlled entirely by the Castro brothers’ near-absolute Communist reign for over 50 years, rapid recent economic progress suggests that the formerly isolated pariah state, which sits only 50 km off the coast of the world’s oldest and most powerful capitalist democracy, will very soon become a boomtown for businesspeople worldwide.

Why now? Why after 50 years of the same stagnant leadership by the same Communist family? What’s changed? First of all, when Fidel Castro and his younger brother Raul took control of the small island south of Miami, Communism was beginning to spread like wildfire across the globe. Other than the United States, the Soviet Union was the world’s great superpower and was vehemently pro-Communism to the point of spreading the socioeconomic philosophy to its neighbors by force.

Español: 1 peso cubano. Emisión especial conme...

Fidel Castro coin commemorating his own Communist Revolution in Cuba.

During the early part of the Castro rein, all of Eastern Europe, China, most of central and southeast Asia, and several nations in Africa and Latin America also practiced Communism. Capitalism was dead, so the Soviets told the world, and developing nations jumped on the Communist bandwagon in hopes of achieving financial prosperity.

Fast forward 50 years: The Korean War has come and gone with capitalist South Korea remaining one of the 30 most successful countries on Earth while its northern Communist sister state is quite possibly the least successful, most regressive economic entity on the planet.

Ditto for Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asia. South Vietnam and its more free-market neighbors, such as Thailand, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines have thrived and generally lifted themselves out of abject poverty. Meanwhile, Communist-dominated North Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Red China languished in poverty and economic stagnation. China has since abandoned Communist economics for extremely market-friendly capitalist ones; Vietnam and Cambodia have followed their lead to a lesser degree, and all three nations have since begun to prosper.

The Soviets failed to take control of Finland, Western Germany, Austria, and many other strong and developed Western capitalist democracies. Similarly they did not make many inroads into Islamic Asia and the Middle East, most notably having been defeated in Afghanistan. Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe saw the writing on the wall: as capitalistic Europe thrived, Communist Europe failed. Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and other former Soviet allies rebelled and became capitalistic success stories practically overnight. Other Soviet states in Eastern Europe and Central Asia followed suit and became independent capitalist nations, meanwhile Soviet-created nations like Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia disbanded and split into several smaller nations with common cultural/ethnic ties.

This great downfall of Communism and the ever-growing number of newly capitalist nations that have moved themselves out of poverty over the past 20 years is arguably the most obvious proof that Soviet Communism does not work. Today Cuba, North Korea, and (possibly) Laos are the only truly Communist nations left. All three depend on foreign aid, heavy-handed dictatorship, and censored media to keep up the charade that their societies are anything remotely resembling normal and prosperous. Unlike North Korea, however, the Cuban populace is not totally isolated about global events and other nations. They don’t worship the Castro brothers as Gods. They have internet access to an extent.

Fidel Castro is gravely ill and near death. Raul, who just turned 81, won’t be far behind him. Raul Castro‘s daughter and other younger descendants have already spoken openly about plans to gradually “de-Communize” their country once the old guard dies off. In fact, the Obama administration has hosted Raul Castro’s daughter, and possible heir to the Cuban leadership, several times recently in the United States, a gesture that would have been unthinkable between the American and Cuban leadership just five years ago.

English: The Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Españo...

Fidel Castro as he appears today: old, haggard, and out of touch with modern reality.

It is the slowly thawing relationship between Cuba and all of its Western neighbors, including especially Canada and America, that will allow Cuba to fully enter the globalized economy within the next five years or so, drawing in all manner of businesses, large and small, from locally owned mom & pop shops to major Brazilian, Mexican, and American corporations, from global tourists to financial aid and economic stimulus packages as reward for being removed from international economic blacklists. Cuba’s economic future is bright because it’s an untapped market full of generally intelligent, knowledgeable people who are ready to progress into the modern world in business, technology, medicine, and human rights that many of the rest of us have come to take for granted.

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