Yoani Sánchez recently imagined for her readers a blissful, free market-economic future for Cuba. Entitled “Neoliberalismo,” the post hailed Cuba’s new economic reforms as an early sign that the “sirens of capitalism” would one day prevail over the “false illusion of utopia” (Marxian political-economic utopia a lo cubano) that the Cuban revolution has insistently pursued for so long. Was this real? Or was she poking fun? I’m not sure, but I’m going to take this idea seriously here.
The post didn’t include a word about actual economic policy or civil liberties. That wasn’t the point. The point was to dream.
In my somewhat dubious position as a Latin Americanist grad student at the University of Chicago, I’ve learned a bit about the foundations of free market economic theory, and the outcomes that it has rendered in practice. Neoliberalism grew out of the theory that a truly free market and a truly free society are fundamentally interdependent—one cannot exist without the other. Here, any form of government regulation or social service program that interferes with the market is thought to stifle the “freeness” of society. There is a lot more to it. But this peculiar, abstract notion of freedom of all things and people is the golden rule. Like Cuba’s rendition of Marxism, this too is a utopian model. I’m not sure if Yoani meant to pit one utopia against another, but that is what she has done.
Over the last four years, the Cuban and Venezuelan governments have been planning to build a submarine fiber optic cable that will connect Venezuela’s Caribbean coast, Cuba, and Jamaica and will increase Internet connectivity in Cuba 3,000-fold. This week, the Ministry of Informatics and Communications announced that the cable will be put in place beginning in January of 2011. But the Ministry also indicated that contrary what many had hoped, the cable will not increase access opportunities for Cubans to access the Internet.
I have been less than half-wired lately because of my recent work as a contributing writer for Global Voices. I wrote my first post about a website created by Mexican journalist Alma Guillermoprieto, 72migrantes.com, that serves as a virtual altar and memorial to seventy-two migrants who were massacred in Mexico in August of 2010. Yesterday and today (November 1 and 2), marked Mexico’s Day of the Dead, and I got to experience a small and very new manifestation of this tradition by visiting, writing, and talking with Alma about this unique virtual articulation of life and remembrance. The site will remain active for the foreseeable future, and donations may be made to Hermanos en el Camino, a church organization that provides food, shelter and support to migrants and those who have been kidnapped or threatened by drug and human traffickers in Mexico.