Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Learning from Cuba: Observations and reflections of my pilgrimage, part 3


From Minnesota-

Author's note: From November 27-December 4, 2010 I traveled (legally!) to Cuba as part of a 18-member delegation from St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis. We went to celebrate the installation of Griselda Delgado as the new Episcopalian Bishop of Cuba. As one of two non-Episcopalians on the trip, I felt thoroughly included and welcomed by both my fellow travelers and those we met in Cuba.

The Private-Public Conundrum

Our Cuban guide took us to a "private" family-owned restaurant for our supper on Monday evening. Located on the second floor of a building which was ostensibly their residence, I noticed the fancy woodwork design as we climbed the stairs. Named "La Gardenita" or Little Farmer, the d├ęcor of this restaurant and ambiance were noticeably different and the wait staff extremely welcoming and friendly in their cowboy hats and plunging necklines. The menu was impressive and the food presentation and quality was excellent.

Unlike the government-owned and run restaurants, this "palador" was an outgrowth of some limited private enterprise now allowed by the government since the Soviet largess dried up after the collapse of many communist economies and governments in 1989. I am a strong supporter of government programs for education, healthcare, social security, and a safety net for the poor -- all of which Cuba seems to do better than the US -- but it appears to me that there seems to allow little incentive in their economy for this kind of initiative. It was refreshing but it also caused me to wonder how far to let it progress lest it fester into the incredible gaps between the rich and the poor so evident in the US today. Tonight was a powerful argument in favor of a mixed economy that also allows room for private initiative and resourcefulness.

More here-

http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/blog/steve-clemens/learning-cuba-observations-and-reflections-my-pilgrimage-part-3

No comments: