Sure, the Communist Party regime in Havana still pretends to run a “socialist" economic model, far removed from the evils of rampant capitalism and sharemarket speculation, but the reality is very different.
In fact, the great financial meltdown of 2008 will have a serious impact on the two biggest money-earners for the Castro brothers.
The second biggest money-earner is tourism, which was worth an estimated USD2.2 billion last year. But a recession in Western Europe will mean fewer Spaniards, Germans and Italians travelling to Cuba on holidays, which will result in deserted beaches, empty hotel rooms and a sudden drop in the consumption of over-priced mojitos.
And there are equally serious problems with the regime’s number one money earner: the nickel industry.
After years of high prices and continuing growth, driven largely by China’s insatiable need for raw materials, the demand for nickel is on the way down – and so, too, are the prices paid for the metal.
As you can see from this Reuters article of only 10 months ago, Cuba has the third-largest nickel reserves in the world, with nickel exports earning the country about USD2.7 billion in 2007.
However, new figures produced by a body known as the International Nickel Study Group show that global demand for nickel fell again in August – the fifth month of decline in a row. And the price of nickel has also tumbled: at USD10,800.00 a tonne, it is now less than a third of the price a year ago.
In short, more bad news for Havana.