Greek leftist economist and politician Yanis Varoufakis this week prescribed economic reforms to Cuba to “energize” small enterprises and greater respect for human rights to increase the “strength” of the revolution, according to a report by the EFE news agency.
The university professor, former Finance Minister of Greece and founder of the Movement for Democracy in Europe (DiEM25) explained to the Spanish news agency that in recent days he had talks with Cuban Minister of Finance and Prices Meisi Bolaños, as well as with members of the Bureau Politician of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC).
After his trip to Cuba, @yanisvaroufakis has landed in Mexico for an official visit that will include a meeting with President @lopezobrador_, in which they will discuss the New Non-Aligned Movement and the campaign to free Julian Assange. pic.twitter.com/HNI9U8cGth
— DiEM25 (@DiEM_25) January 30, 2023
In the political sphere, Varoufakis assured that he had been “very explicit” when raising the problem of human rights with the Cuban authorities, as denounced by governments and various NGOs, and advocated recovering for the left the concept of freedom.
“I approach Cuba in the same way that I do with my friends, with my family…, with everyone with whom I have to cooperate and work with. In a way that is both respectful and critical,” he assured in relation to the differences between the political system on the island and his own ideas.
“If someone close to you and with whom you have to cooperate does something wrong, you have to look them in the eye and tell them. And that includes human rights,” added Varoufakis.
According to the NGO Prisoners Defenders in Cuba, there are currently more than a thousand political prisoners, and the Justice 11J group has registered some 700 convictions of the participants in the protests of July 11, 2021, the largest in decades.
In Varoufakis’s opinion, the left must “recover the concept of freedom,” something that he considered was lost in favor of the right in the 20th century “because of the gulag and the tendency (of the left) to create concentration camps for its own people.”
The Greek politician was convinced that “the strength of the Cuban revolution will increase when it treats those who demonstrate against the Cuban government and the PCC as its own people, as potential allies despite disagreements and demonstrations.”
In the economic field, he first accused the United States for the “desperate” situation of the island due to the six decades of embargo/blockade. After more than two years of severe crisis, Cuba is suffering a tremendous shortage of basic products (food, medicine and fuel), high inflation and depreciation of the peso.
At this point, he denounced the “financial terrorism exercised by the United States on Cuba,” in reference to the multiple economic sanctions on the island, and pointed to the adverse international context, with the appreciation of the dollar and the rise in food and energy prices.
“It is nothing short of a miracle that Cuba is still standing. I have great admiration for its ability to resist and not give in to the predatory moves of the United States,” he stated.
However, Varoufakis indicated that the Cuban authorities can take some measures to improve the situation in the country, such as “energizing small cooperative enterprises with many degrees of freedom” and “channeling capital” towards them.
Με ομιλία ενώπιον του Προέδρου Μιγκέλ Ντίας-Κανέλ στην Εθνοσυνέλευση της #Κουβα έκλεισε το 5ο Διεθ. Συνέδριο για την Παγκόσμια Εξισορρόπηση, εκπροσωπώντας την πρωτοβουλία της @ProgIntl για ένα Νέο Κίνημα Αδεσμεύτων. pic.twitter.com/yI1EbdcyJL
— Γιάνης Βαρουφάκης (@varoufakis_gr) January 29, 2023
In addition, he recommended that they “look into ways to exploit the emergence of Chinese monetary payment systems, including the virtual currency of the Central Bank of China.”
The economist acknowledged that his interlocutors were “quite self-critical with respect to their monetary policy,” referring to the consequences of the so-called Task of Reorganization (applied in 2021), which failed to try to end the dual currency, promoted the partial dollarization of the economy and sank the Cuban peso.
During his stay in Cuba, Varoufakis participated in the 5th Conference for the Balance of the World, an international forum on foreign relations with more than a thousand participants from 86 countries, in which he advocated renewing the alliance of non-aligned countries in a context of “new cold war.”
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