Lage describes a difference between US and Cuban understandings of the economy, which he expresses as “they” (United States) and “we” (Cuba). They see the private sector as the principal component of the economy, whereas we see the private sector as a complement to the state enterprises that form the principal economic sector. They see the spirit of innovation as integrally tied to private enterprise, whereas we see innovation as occurring primarily in high technology and science, which are developed and managed by the state, and which are evident in recent Cuban advances in biotechnology, medicines and vaccines. They see private undertakings as empowering the people, whereas we see them as empowering only a part of the people, and a relatively small part, for it is the state sector that generates most of our wealth. They see the private sector as the source of social development, whereas we see the private sector as playing a role in social development, but also as contributing to social inequality and to the erosion of social cohesion.
Lage maintains that Cuban economic and social development in the twenty-first century cannot be based on the model of US economic development of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
“Their concept is based on the path of business development of the United States, whose economy took-off in the nineteenth century, in conditions of the world-economy that are not replicable today. We know that the realities of the underdeveloped countries of a dependent economy are of a different character, especially in the twenty-first century, and that economic and technical-scientific development will not occur in the future on a basis of small private undertakings in competition. To attempt to reproduce the path of development of the countries today industrialized, 300 hundred years later, would be a recipe for the perpetuation of underdevelopment and dependency.”
Lage concludes that Cuba will successfully meet the economic challenges of the twenty-first century to the extent that Cuba: develops the efficiency and growth capacity of the state companies; inserts the state enterprises into the world-economy; connects science to the economy with companies of high technology; develops highly profitable products and services, enriching the portfolio of Cuban exportations; and consciously limits the expansion of social inequalities, through the intervention of the socialist state.
The United States should stop trying to change Cuba, either through the aggressive form of economic coercion, or through a “soft power” strategy that seeks to create a Cuban middle class that will support US economic interests. Cuba is an historically colonized and underdeveloped nation, and it has struggled since 1868 to attain its sovereignty. In the context of that struggle, Cuba has forged a political culture that is different from that of the United States and that includes alternative conceptions concerning the role of the state in the economy. The alternative Cuban model has important implications for the nations of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and South and Southeast Asia, which like Cuba, have been restricted by colonialism, underdevelopment, and neocolonialism. If US foreign policy were based on the principle of the sovereignty of nations, it would permit the nations of the Third World to find their own way, without interference of any form.
Going beyond a policy of non-interference, if US foreign policy were to be based on an ethic of solidarity with the peoples and nations of the world, it would provide technical support to national development projects being developed autonomously by the nations of the world. Such a policy of North-South cooperation would be beneficial to the people of the United States, because it would lead to the political stability of the world-system and to less conflict in the world; and it would increase the global market for US goods and services.
However, a US foreign policy of North-South cooperation is not likely to occur until the people of the United States form a unified social movement that takes political power from the elite, which has demonstrated since 1980 its unwavering commitment to its particular interests.
Key words: Obama, Cuba, high-technology, development, private sector, state sector