Historically, the word transition is a misleading one when referring to the state of former Communist nations as they progress from command to market economies.
Generally, the result of this so-called political and economic transition is much more similar to the paradigm which existed previously under communism, rather than the market model which was originally aimed for at its commencement.
As Cuba slowly begins to liberalizeafter decades of economic stagnation and political repressionand the Castro brother both near an older age, Russia serves as a prime example of what may come about in Cuba over the upcoming decades. If history serves as any indicator, true democracy and economic liberalization are still far off for the Cuban people.
Using Russia as our guide, here are six probable developments within the Caribbean nation if the Communist regime were to fall:
1.The establishment of a kleptocratic system
As Cuban exile scholar Jose Azel explains, The collectivist mindset is now part of the Cuban psyche, so even after the Castro brothers are gone its going to take a lot of effort to bring about change of the kind that I would like to see. Whats most likely to happen is not a transition, but a succession to the kleptocratic Russian model. In other words, well probably see a form of kleptocracy where military leaders turn themselves into businessmen that own everything worth owning, as happened in Russia.
2. An economically-challenging period of transition
In his book, Russia under Yeltsin and Putin, Russian sociologist Boris Kagarlitsky explains the bleak economic circumstances during the transition period following the breaking up of the Soviet bloc in 1989. Specifically, Russias productive assets fell by approximately 8% annually from 1989 through 2001. This reduction in productivity was accompanied by a substantial increment in the total proportion of the population living in poverty.
And while Cubas productive capacities are nowhere near those of the former Soviet state, it can also expect a downturn in its already slim production capacities over a transitional period.
3. Mass exodus
Kagarlitsky goes on to explain that the fall of communism led to a massive monetary and demographic exodus out of Eastern Europe. In terms of assets, he explains that, Throughout the entire Yeltsin transition period, flight of capital away from Russia totaled between $1 and $2 billion US every month.
Further, former Soviet nationssuch as Albaniaunderwent massive exoduses to Western Europe and beyond following the collapse of the U.S.S.R. due to the dire economic circumstances, which accompanied the transitional period. The same development could be expected out of Cuba.
4. Greater concentration of wealth
Kagarlitsky expands on his aforementioned points by stating that, Between 1993 and 1995, 20,000 out of 27,000 Russian state enterprises were privatized. The Government sold them for about 10% per cent of their true value.
Jose Azel develops this point by explaining that, in Cuba, this same type of privatization will likely lead to a situation where, military leaders turn themselves into businessmen that own everything worth owning, as happened in Russia.
5. A burgeoning bureaucracy
Contrary to what most would expect, the fall of Communism in Russia actually led to an even larger administrative bureaucracy in the new Russian state. Kagarlitsky explains that upon its move to a market economy the bureaucracy in Russia has grown dramatically.
Specifically, he says, the Soviet bureaucracy under Brezhnev (Soviet centralism) was made up about 12 million people. It ballooned to 18 million under Gorbachev (restructure). Under Yeltsin (transition) the number of state functionaries in Russia alone exceeded that for the whole Soviet Union in Gorbachevs time.
Taking these facts into account, its difficult to obtain any evidence which may suggest that the same wont happen in Cuba, as well.
6. Autocratic rulers
For point number six, we need to look no further than Vladimir PutinRussias current president whose style of governance is much more autocratic than democratic in nature. Ultimately, the current Russian republic is that just in name, and not much else.
Hence, its unlikely that after more than half a century of autocratic rule, Cuba will easily transition to a liberal democratic system.
SEE ALSO: Fidel Castro’s life of luxury