China in Cuba
On May 18-24 a group of 15 Gathering participants flew to Cuba. Most of us had never been and were curious about what is going on with the church there. All of us were surprised by what we learned and experienced. I don’t want to write a full report but would like to focus a couple of blogs on some of the highlights.
The influence of China has almost replaced the subsidy of the Soviet Union. I use those words carefully because China is not subsidizing. It is in a trading relationship with Cuba. Still, as a result of seeing China’s operating pattern in Africa and other places, they remind me of a pay day lender. They are willing to take risky bets in countries that are either outright pariahs (like Angola) or are in deep financial straits (like Cuba) and then insinuate themselves into the economy. In the case of Cuba they are trading buses and locomotives they manufacture in China for nickel and, more importantly, the valuable rights to off-shore drilling. Fidel and Raul Castro's long-time regime is "over a barrel" given the weakness of the Cuban economy, and Cuba needs all the trading partners it can get. This includes Venezuela, Spain, the Netherlands and Canada. One interesting fact is Cuba’s major export is now physicians. Over 30,000 Cuban doctors have been sent around the world in exchange for food and oil. Over 85% of all food has to be imported in spite of the abundant supply of government owned farm land. When the Soviet Union collapsed, 80% of the Cuban economy collapsed with it and that has led to extreme measures (like reducing the government labor force by 500,000 people last year) that may actually produce long term benefits by forcing the creation of privately owned businesses and allowing farmers to own land.
|Steven Rogers||June 8, 2012, 3:10 pm|
|Fascinating insights, Fred. Thanks for sharing! I hope to go sometime soon.|