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Díaz-Canel seeks to dupe Cubans by citing 'demographic dynamics'

Raulist neo-Castroism stands out for 'solving' non-existent problems to avoid facing real ones.

La Habana
An elderly woman in Havana.
An elderly woman in Havana. Diario de Cuba

At the end of the year, president-designate Miguel Díaz-Canel issued this out-of-the-blue tweet: "Aging in Cuba is a conquest, the result of what the Revolution has done in every area, starting with Health, despite the suffocating blockade. We will be assigning the highest priority to the challenge of demographic dynamics in 2022."

The only remarkable thing about the message is its ambiguity. Is aging a conquest or a challenge? Before the Revolution, did Cubans not age? If getting old is a conquest of the Revolution, don't people in countries without a Revolution get old too? Does "the highest priority in 2022" mean that this issue was not important before, and will not be important later? The cryptic message clarifies nothing, constituting a regrettable attempt to boast while recognizing a problem, but misrepresenting the root of it.

The history of Raulist neo-Castroism stands out for "solving" non-existent problems in order to avoid facing real ones. For example, the Government exponentially raised the remuneration of work, as if in Cuba there were a salary problem and not a productivity one. The result? The productivity problem remains, and a monetary inflation problem was created.

The same strategy of distraction is employed today, focusing attention on the "challenge of demographic dynamics." Hopefully, before using the well-oiled propaganda machine to work to inject the virus of the "demographic problem" into Cuban minds, the Government will reflect on the dangers of this idea, taking into account the shameful history of the demographic "solutions" that have been black marks on human history: Nazism, Ukraine’s Holodomor famine, Soviet and Chinese industrialization, the Armenian holocaust, Weyler's reconcentration policy, the Bureau of Indians Affairs, Algerian suburbs in Paris, the treatment of Turks in Berlin and of Cubans of Eastern provinces in Havana —a shameful list to which we hope the Revolution does not intend to add.

Furthermore, although they refuse to admit it,  the real problem is that the Castro system does not generate the resources that Cubans need and, demographically speaking, it seems likely that this insufficiency will only worsen; in 2022 many among the Baby Boom generation, particularly numerous from 1957 to 1963, will turn 65, such that during the next six years a huge number of Cubans will retire.

It is not true that the island suffers from population difficulties. The reality that Díaz-Canel wants to obscure is that the population is in a serious bind, and it is Castroism that put it there. The problem is not that there are many old people in Cuba. The problem is that people get old in Cuba and end up, most likely, facing one of three scenarios:

1. A stable economic situation, but dependent, and at the cost of being away from one or more of their emigrated children or grandchildren.
2. Family close, but poverty even closer, because pensions and family salaries are not enough to cover the basics.
3. Close family and a stable economic situation, but living in fear, knowing that something illegal must be done to earn well above the average Cuban's legal income.

In every country that has completed or is far along in its demographic transition, adapting the economy to the population's resulting age structure (demographic aging) is a pressing challenge. What is distinctive about Cuba is that the growing number of elderly people represents a financial burden that is often untenable, as during their working years retirees were unable to accumulate sufficient capital for their old age due to violations of private property committed by the Revolution.

Another revolutionary "achievement" is that Cuba has concluded its demographic transition and reached a point where its birth rate is lower than its mortality rate, which is why its population is shrinking —but this happened without the industrial and post-industrial transitions achieved by other societies featuring similar patterns in their age structures. These other nations can sustain a quality of life far higher than that on the island, so demographic aging is not as ominous as it is for Cubans.

Approaching the Cuban situation as a "demographic problem," and not from the perspective of the system's failure, generates misguided policies to boost the birth rate, such as the free housing plan for mothers of 3 children under age 12, which punishes those who choose to have fewer children and subliminally accuses them of a lack of reproductive patriotism worsening the demographic situation.

Hoodwinking the people in order to shirk responsibility for the failed Castro regime will not only aggravate the economic problem, but will also promote the ordeals associated with the Cuban population's unsustainable age distribution problem. The people will respond with more emigration, which is, actually, in the Government's best interest, as it will mean more Cubans are emotionally coerced into dedicating, through remittances, part of the fruits of their capitalist efforts to mitigate the effects of the socialist "Revolution."

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