Cuba is free of IMF, says Castro

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at SPAMbom4.vsnl.net.in
Mon Jan 31 18:58:29 MST 2000



31 January 2000

Cuba is free of IMF, says Castro
HAVANA: Socialist Cuba has survived US pressure and recession because it
stands apart from ``chaotic'' global capitalism and thus escaped the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) ``executioner,'' President Fidel Castro
said.
Castro said that Cuba's freedom from the IMF meant that it could endure 40
years of hostility from the United States, including a trade embargo and a
severe economic crisis triggered by the collapse of the Soviet bloc after
1990.
Castro gave the speech Friday night but excerpts were published Saturday by
Cuban news agencies.
``We were able to survive because we don't belong to the IMF,'' the
73-year-old Cuban leader told economists at a ''Globalization and
Development Problems'' conference in Havana.
Castro said Cuba, by maintaining state ownership and control of its economy
and a socialist system of distribution, had been better protected against
the financial shocks that have shaken the increasingly globalized world
economic system.
As Cuba has no stock market and all its banks are in state hands, it
suffered none of the capital flight that hit developing nations in the
1998/1999 world financial crisis.
``Not a single dollar escapes in our country,'' he said.
Castro suggested the world could learn from this.
``The ideal thing would be not that Cuba should join the process of
globalization, but that globalization should join Cuba,'' he said.
Castro slammed the Washington-based IMF as ``the executioner which pulls the
string so that the guillotine's blade falls on the heads of Third World
nations.'' He was referring to the IMF's tough economic reform programs for
developing countries.
``We are not dependent in any degree of any international institution,''
Castro added, noting that Cuba did not belong to the World Bank either.
He described the IMF as the ``backbone'' of the current globalized economic
system, which he said was ``unsustainable''. ''The world is a colossal
madness and chaos reigns,'' he added.
The Cuban leader said that Cuba's economic model had ''worked'' and that 40
years of socialist revolution had made the country ``extraordinarily
powerful''.
``We've had the privilege of seeing 10 U.S. governments grow old while
waiting for Cuba's revolution to collapse,'' he said.
``We've spent 40 years sharing out our wealth as fairly as possible,'' he
added, referring to a subsidized state rationing system which provides
Cubans with minimum basic foodstuffs with mixed success.
Cuba says its economy is now emerging from recession and announced gross
domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.2 percent for 1999. Cuban officials said
this had been achieved largely through an improved sugar crop and continued
tourism growth.
But some foreign analysts feel the growth figure given is too high and say
the island still faces serious problems.
Castro said Cuba could not live in ``a crystal vase'' and said the country
had made ``openings,'' such as allowing in foreign tourism and investment
over the last decade.
But he made clear this process had clear limits determined by national
interest. ``Our opening is designed by hand and occupies just the space that
most suits the country,'' he said.(Reuters)

For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service
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