There's an old joke, probably from Hollywood, that when someone says, "It's not about the money...", it's really about the money.
The Castro's bankrupted Cuba fifty years ago by implementing misguided nationalist, socialist and communal economic policies. It took the failure of the Soviet Union and its ending of its sponsorship of the Castros to make this obvious and to destine Cubans to live in abject poverty.
Everything that the Castros have done since that bleak day in 1994 has been geared toward keeping the doors open; maintaining the federal police as well as the urban grays - the PNR - and the secret police.
I've written before about Cuba's 6th Congress of a year and a half ago and what a distortion of the truth it was. How it was really a money grab disguised as a new economic development strategy. Going to a two currency system allowed them to grab an extra 10% of the US cash that ex-pat Cubans and tourists bring intot he country.
Now there's chatter about them allowing residents to use debit cards in the dollar stores.
No Cubans (outside of government bribe-takers) have so much legal income that they can afford to make a big show of shopping in the Benitton stores or paying full retail for cigars. And they're sure as hell smart enough to not use their debit card accounts for the cash that they earn on the side. Like everything else the Castros do, it's about them and money, not Cubans and well-being.
Brian Lloyd French
I am a great admirer of the strength and talents of Cuban people and will share some of my experiences here.