Archive for May 18th, 2011

“Creating Incidents” in Cuba: America’s Design to Trigger “Regime Change”

May 18, 2011

By Arnold August
 Global Research, May 17, 2011

The Granma Editorial – A Key Question for Cuba and her Real Friends

I have read with a great deal of interest and enthusiasm the Granma newspaper Editorial entitled Fabricating Pretexts, dated May 15, 2011. I was following with much concern the latest provocations from Madrid, Miami and Washington. On April 1, 2011 Aznar, whose roots are to be found in the worst of the Franco tradition, was complaining according to Europa Press that “it is not fair to do one thing in Libya and the opposite in Cuba… to protect lives.” Cuba’s enemies never have let up in their pernicious activities against the Cuban people. However, since this latest statement, a new series of equally aggressive actions just as defamatory has begun. For example, the program of Telephone Without Fear (Háblalo Sin Miedo) was set up by mercenary bloggers in the US and Cuba in order to give the impression that “disturbances” are taking place in Cuba and that “the Cubans” are clamoring for help from Washington and its allies.

There is also the latest program of “civic activism” being developed by mercenaries in Madrid, Miami and Cuba. Some of its representatives had recently visited Washington to solicit support. The goal is to create incidents in Cuba. Amongst those most involved are those who had recently been released from prison and their collaborators.

Who can believe that in Cuba there are pacific “dissidents” or mercenaries? In the first place the violation of Cuban laws has the objective, as they themselves have openly declared on more than one occasion, of “regime change” in Cuba. This is far from constituting a pacific goal. Secondly, the participation of almost all the tendencies in the “opposition” in one way or another in this “civic activism” activity shows that there exists a new phase of provocation which is characterized by a danger of violence. And so the Granma newspaper has every right to ask the following:

In the past, there have been attempts to isolate Cuba or provoke internal disorders in order to create a pretext for U.S. intervention. What is the object of these campaigns? Just to denigrate or something worse? Could it be that those pulling the strings and their paid internal agents would be delighted to invoke the “protection of civilians” in order to bomb Havana?

Based on 52 years of experience and heroic struggle, Cuba knows how to respond with serenity and firmness in the face of mercenary actions. In the same manner, honest people throughout the planet support the right to self-determination of Cuba, an entitlement which should apply to any nation in the world even though this displeases the heads of the Imperial powers.

These questions raised by Granma, which are crucial Cuba, are also fundamental for the world: there is no room for vacillations with respect to the defense of Cuba in the confrontation with the forces of the Imperial powers.

Peoples and governments which are genuinely moved by a spirit of respect for international justice on all continents, insist that Washington and its allies respect the sovereignty of Cuba. Once again, as always, today we are not leaving Cuba alone.

Response to Financial Times article ‘Cuba Libre?’

May 18, 2011

Helen Yaffe

Here is my unprinted response to the whole-page article about recent developments in Cuba which appeared in the Financial Times, 25 April 2011:
With typical journalistic hyperbole you claim that changes to the employment structure in Cuba amount to ‘a structural adjustment so harsh it would make even advocates of the “shock therapy” meted out in the former Soviet bloc wince’ (John Rathbone and Marc Frank, ‘Cuba Libre?’ 25 April 2011). You are mistaken.

Cuba’s workforce is 5.2 million. The one million workers identified as ‘surplus’ or unproductive will not be abandoned as prescribed by neoliberal ‘shock therapy’, but given the option to take up employment in agriculture (state, cooperative or private), construction or industry, join cooperatives or enter self-employment. State institutions must provide these alternatives. Their sluggishness in doing so prompted Cuban trade unions to demand (and achieve) a delay in restructuring.

Prior to the changes, 15.4% of Cubans worked in the non-state sector, most in agricultural cooperatives whose production features in the central plan. Just 140,000 Cubans or 2.7% of the total workforce were self-employed. Add the 200,000 new licenses issued since October 2010 and still less than 7% of Cubans will be self-employed, all in non strategic or marginal occupations, from pet-grooming to trades.

Cuba’s ‘bloated’ payrolls are the legacy of the crisis following the collapse of the Soviet bloc which exacerbated the US blockade. The loss of 80% of trade and investments saw GDP plummet 35%. It was politically and socially important for the government to maintain employment, even as production contracted and infrastructure ground-down. The correlation between salaries and productivity was lost. Then-President Fidel Castro began introducing measures to redress this in 2005, the year that Cuban GNP recovered its pre-crisis levels. He set Cuba on the path to achieving ‘the dream of everyone being able to live on their salary or on their adequate pension’ (Fidel, 17 November 2005), echoing Marx’s vision that under socialism ‘the individual producer receives back from society – after deductions have been made – exactly what he gives to it.’

Fidel revealed the long-term plan of eliminating the ration book, undermining the parasitic layer in Cuban society, those who can work but won’t and announced that state subsidies would be reduced, while medical provision, education and so on would remain free and universal. Measures announced by Raul Castro consolidate that process. It is erroneous to assert that Raul has a ‘desire to assert his differences from Fidel’.

The introduction to the reform document approved by the Cuban Communist Party Congress, which you describe as introducing a ‘more market-orientated system’ states that ‘planning will be supreme, not the market.’ Following public debates about the proposed reforms in the three months prior to the Congress modifications were made most of the proposals.

Behind the current measures is a long-run improvement in the Cuban economy, coupled with the short-term balance of payment crisis since 2007/8, resulting from world food and fuel price rises, three devastating hurricanes and the fall in Cuba’s export earnings.

In the former USSR, once the profit motive becoming the determinant of production and distribution, state welfare disintegrated. In ten years, life expectancy fell by 15 years. Conversely, during Cuba’s crisis in the 1990s the proportion of GDP spent on social programs increased by 34%. The number of doctors increased 76% and day-care centres for older people by 107%; worth considering as we brace ourselves for the dismantling of welfare provision in Britain. Cuba resisted the neoliberal option during a far more severe crisis in the 1990s. It will continue to resist ‘shock therapy’ today.

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