Cuba, Venezuela: Top Latin Economies in 2005
As we reach a very interesting House vote on CAFTA, we are being told all sorts of lies: that labor and environmental conditions in Central America are not a concern (when censored reports show otherwise), that CAFTA is really about helping Central America, that this exchange is really "free" (when movement of people is excluded, as now are the crucial sugar and textile markets.
But I like focussing on the big questions. What happened to Latin America in the last 25 years that caused such widespread failure? ie. Does capitalism"work?" And are alternatives out there. Can Cuba and Venezuela actually be showing us the future, both economically and politically?
Yes indeed, Cuba and Venezuela (and China...) appear to be far ahead of their peers as far as their projected 2005 economic grownth. Fidel Castro has just reported that Cuba expects to hit 9 percent this year, and Venezuela is at 8%. Meanwhile NAFTA beneficiary Mexico is happy with their 4%, after 2 years at 1%.
Cuba has been helped by an increase in the price of Nickel, strong tourism, bilateral agreements and increased hard currency reserves since taking the dollar out of everyday use. Recent offshore oil finds have increased expectations even higher. In recent months The Government has increased the minimum wage and the pay of teachers and social workers... and even given away free rice cookers to everyone who wants one;) It seems Mr. Bush's attempts to strangle the economy further have failed.
Of course the island still faces many struggles, as Castro and Granma have been stressing lately - particularly since the devastating hurricane Dennis that sliced through the island a few weeks ago, causing blackouts. However Castro claimed that hundreds of millions in investments are being made now that will double the current electrical capacity of the country.