2020 is gone. And as they say in Cuba: “solavaya, pa allá, pa allá“. On this December 31, some of the rituals have already been fulfilled to dismiss the year and celebrate the arrival of the next. At midnight, the 21 artillery salvoes were fired from the Cabaña Fortress, a bucket of water was thrown into the street to take away the bad and we burned a 2020 puppet … With great enthusiasm this year.
What was not seen was the usual walk in the street of those who want to travel: we miss a bit to see the suitcases on wheels. But there are those who are realistic in their ambitions: traveling right now may not be the best of ideas.
The bittersweet taste of 2020
Without a doubt, it has been a very hard year for Cuba. The pandemic came as a surprise to an economy whose GDP had already shrunk in 2019. The death rate in Cuba has been much lower than in many other nations. However, the paralysis of tourism and other sectors due to the quarantine measures slowed down the Cuban economy.
In addition, let’s add the tightening of the blockade under the Trump administration – which is real – and a more active hurricane season than usual. The cost has been high, but we survived. And there is light in hope.
Zero day for a long story
Yesterday, January 1, 2021, was day zero for the great challenge of reordering the Cuban economy. Finally we say goodbye to the double currency that we have been carrying since the 90’s of the last century. The Cuban peso is established as the sole and official currency.
Although such a measure initially involves a significant inflation process, wages for state workers have also risen. Many subsidies and gratuities are eliminated, but at least two remain: education and health. These two social triumphs are not up for discussion, nor is a strengthening of the Social Security and Pensions system, so as not to leave any Cuban helpless because of this great change.
On the other hand, while the world begins the race for vaccination against Covid-19, in Cuba not one, but 4 vaccine candidates are in various phases of clinical trials. Another good news: as the year progresses there will be a progressive growth in tourism, which will undoubtedly be reflected positively in the economy, which prevents a recovery for this year from 7 to 8%.
There are many more reasons to be hopeful: an announced policy change towards Cuba by President-elect Joe Biden, the increase in foreign investment in the largest of the Antilles, profound changes in the country’s economic policies that will favor productivity, efficiency and the productive chain …
However, the ordinary Cuban is currently governed by the maxim of “seeing is believing”, so he says goodbye to the bad year and looks at the next with suspicion, but trusting in his aché.