In a visit made to Havana earlier this month, Ms. Bárcena declared that Cuba "has left behind" many Latin American countries in the implementation of the socioeconomic "structural change" proposed by ECLAC.
Ms. Bárcena's praise of the Cuban "model" appears even stranger when compared with non-triumphalist statements made by both Fidel and Raúl Castro. In late 2010, the former admitted that "socialism doesn't even work for us," while the latter acknowledged that the Cuban economy was on the "verge of a precipice."
Be that as it may, the mere fact that an utterly failed economy such as Cuba's is leading in the implementation of ECLAC's "structural change" says a great deal about, and against, the nature of the policies that the body is calling for nowadays. One can thus safely bet that the ECLAC-promoted "structural change" will not have a better fate than Prebisch's import-substitution, UNIDO's plan of action or UNCTAD's Common Fund.
This is not the first time that the present head of ECLAC has gone out of her way to hail the Castro regime. In February of last year, Bárcena pontificated that Latin America had "much to learn" from Cuba in equality promotion.
Not even the president of Uruguay, José Mujica, despite being a former Marxist guerilla fighter and an admirer of Fidel Castro, is unaware of the counterproductive effects that the reckless search of equality has had on the Cuban economy. Indeed, Mr. Mujica had asserted that "the championship of redistribution in Latin America has been largely won by Cuba," before adding cynically that Cuba, "now has nothing to redistribute."
What is more, empirical evidence doesn't support Bárcena's plaudits on Cuba's alleged achievements in equality promotion.
For instance, after conducting an inquiry on racism in Cuba, a journalist at the BBC, Fernando Ravsberg, reckoned that Afro-Cubans "have inferior jobs, earn lower incomes, occupy the worst housing and represent the majority in the prisons and the minority in the universities." In the same vein, in a review carried out in 2011 by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the rapporteur on Cuba noted that "people of African descent were underrepresented in decision-making bodies."
Discrimination also affects women and the youth, as reflected in the composition of Cuba's 15-member Politburo, the highest decision-making organ in the country. Only one woman forms part thereof, whereas the mean age of its members is 68 and the median 71.
And yet, just like during the days of the Cold War -- when UN bureaucracies closed their eyes and ears to the reality of life in the Soviet bloc -- all of these inglorious features of Cuba's society and power structure go unnoticed by the UN and its various agencies.