Posts Tagged ‘medialies’

Cuba is not privatizing its economy

October 15, 2013

Progreso Weekly • 15 October, 2013

Cuba is not turning its state-owned-and-managed property into private property, says economics czar Marino Murillo.
“It is not correct to say that in Cuba today a transformation of government property into private property is taking place,” said Marino Murillo.

“It is not correct to say that in Cuba today a transformation of government property into private property is taking place,” said Marino Murillo.

Addressing Cuba’s National Assembly of Popular Power, the head of the Commission on Implementation and Development of the Guidelines made several important points about the reforms in the nation’s economic structure that are known as “actualization” or updates.

The address was delivered on July 7 but was publicized this week by the official website Cubadebate to coincide with the opening of the First International Congress on Economic Management and Development being held in Havana.

Cubadebate presents the speech as “excerpts, an encapsulated version of the statements” by Murillo. The summary carries “no exact quotes, so as to better inform” the members of ANEC, the National Association of Economists and Accountants of Cuba, which is hosting the Congress. The translation below is by Progreso Semanal.

Among the statements attributed to Murillo by Cubadebate:

“It is not correct to say that in Cuba today a transformation of government property into private property is taking place. The actualization of the Cuban economic model presupposes, above all, that social property is above the basic means of production. To actualize the model does not change the structural foundation of property over the basic means of production. A change in property is not taking place. […]

“Do not mistake transformation of property for modernization of management. They are two different things. The actualization of the Cuban economic model […] presupposes modernizing management, making property efficient and developing the productive forces. It does not mean a change in the structure of property.

“The economic model in gestation acknowledges and promotes the development of non-state formulas for property management, such as foreign investment, self-employed labor, cooperatives. It acknowledges and promotes different actors in the economy, among which it assigns a leading role to the socialist state enterprises.

“[Economic] Guideline No. 2 acknowledges the diversity of the actors in the economy and refers to other forms that, as a whole, must make [the economy] more effective. That means that, in terms of management, we must do the necessary to make the economy more efficient. But this, in turn, has limits, the limits of social property over the basic means of production, which define our system.

“Planning continues to be the fundamental method of management of our economy, principally in search of macroeconomic balance. An economy without such balance slows down the development of the productive forces.

“We have to look for a midway point where planning will be the principal instrument of direction of the economy, but we must also leave space for mercantile relations and the existence of the market itself. The acknowledgment of non-state formulas implies that there must be a space for redistribution via the market.

“In the actualization of the Cuban economic model, the main role will be played by the socialist state enterprise, not in an environment like today’s but in another one, where it truly plays the role it deserves in the economy, being more efficient, with other methods of income distribution.

“Planning, as a rule, has been associated with the levels achieved in the previous period and growth in the following period. We must have a long-term development program where the goals are well defined. An annual economic plan is not the same as a long-term development program. The structural programs of the economy are not solved from year to year, with a short-range vision. […]

“A balance must be found between a budgetary deficit and the way to finance it, because if everything is financed with a primary emission [of currency] the effect could be inflationary. When discussing the budget deficit, we must also discuss how it’s going to be financed and the effects this might have on prices and other aspects. […] Monetary emission, budget deficit and structure of budget expenditures are issues on which much work remains to be done. […]

“This year, the financing of the budget deficit has a different structure. Forty-nine percent will be financed with bank credits from commercial banks (which is money in circulation, not emission) and the rest will be financed with emissions. […]

“Credits have been granted to the population, most of them for the construction of housing, but the guarantees [collaterals] are used little. Sometimes, people go to the bank and say they were not granted credit because they couldn’t show good collaterals. There is a legally established list of all the collaterals the people may use to back a loan. We have to work on that.

“The demand for services offered by self-employed workers is growing, both in the population and the economy. In terms of credit and financing, rules were approved that allow legal persons (government enterprises and entities) to hire those services, under the reasoning that, if something they need can be obtained in the country, better to acquire it here than abroad. In such relations, there is no reason to hinder those who manage property under non-state formulas.

“What’s always questionable, regardless of who is being paid, is the irrationality of the expenditure, not the connection between legal persons and non-state formulas. We won’t question self-employed workers because they render a service, but we will question the director, manager, or government representative who incurs in an irrational expenditure.”

Text in Spanish of the Cubadebate summary can be accessed at:,

Book review: “Cuba and its Neighbors – Democracy in Motion”

October 5, 2013

by: W. T. Whitney Jr. October 4 2013 (PEOPLE’S WORLD)
Many justice-seeking North Americans are standoffish about Cuba. Residual red scare and Cuban ties to the former Soviet Union plus perceptions of a top-down governing style often serve to distract them from democratic realities there. Veteran Cuba watcher Arnold August, based in Montreal, has authored a book, reviewed here, that establishes the fact of Cuban democracy. “Cuba and its Neighbors – Democracy in Motion” enables the reader to broaden his or her understanding of Cuban political life. Biases may slacken, and silence on U.S. assaults on Cuba may become less tolerable.

The author took on an immense task. Relying on interviews with Cuban activists and analysts, he surveys particulars of Cuba’s recent political evolution. He draws upon Cuban history and reviews democratic and socialist innovations unique to Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia – and touches upon the seemingly fixed limitations of U.S.-style democracy. His narrative, at times slow moving, is factual, coherent, and non-polemical in tone.

August characterizes democracy as an ongoing, unfinished process. He prioritizes political participation by all but would exclude those bent on accumulation. He applies these parameters to features of revolutionary struggle in Cuba from slaveholding and colonial times to the present. Political participation and strivings for unity and consensus are constant themes.

Social justice was on the agenda of Cuba’s independence wars in the 19th century. The author shows how constitutions written then influenced Cuba’s 1976 Constitution. August pays homage to the mentoring and ideological legacies of liberation hero José Martí. Revolutionary stirrings of the 1930’s receive attention. Cuba’s Communist Party is portrayed as unique: its model was Martí’s Cuban Revolutionary Party. Two non-communist revolutionary organizations and the former Communist Party joined in its formation in 1965, and the party claims no role in electoral politics.

August indicates the new revolutionary government took reassurance from majority opinion that old-style elections could be dispensed with. Democratic openings flourished, among them: the Federation of Cuban Women, the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, the 1961 literacy campaign, and a people’s militia.

The 1976 constitution, however, set forth ground rules for elections to municipal assemblies, provincial assemblies, and the National Assembly. Planners had considered and rejected Soviet Bloc parliamentary and electioneering precedents. Constitutional reforms in 1992 provided for popular election of half the delegates of the National Assembly and barred the Communist Party from naming members of nomination commissions. As one of his signal contributions, the author describes parliamentary structures in revolutionary Cuba in some detail, and explains how elections work.

He contributes also by highlighting community meetings where big problems are discussed and solutions debated. Attended by almost every adult Cuban, these sessions taking place episodically across the island have yielded recommendations showing up later as decrees and legislation. They materialized prior to a referendum approving the 1976 constitution, again in 1991 in anticipation of constitutional changes the following year, in 1994 amidst economic crisis following the demise of the Soviet Bloc, in 2007-08 as troubles with social security, food production, and low wages loomed, and in 2010 as the Communist Party prepared “Guidelines" for dealing with economic challenges and strengthening Cuban socialism. August cites consensus emanating from these instances of participatory democracy as justification for the National Assembly’s frequent unanimous decisions.

Municipal assemblies are prime venues for participatory democracy, August suggests. They are a potential tool for realizing the decentralization part of current reform efforts. Yet day-to-day functioning of the assemblies is inadequate to the task, he reports. They have difficulties in attending to local needs and taking on administrative tasks performed by the central government. “People's councils” that assume governmental responsibilities have emerged in districts within municipalities.

For Arnold August, movement toward democracy in Cuba proceeds on a rocky road. Bureaucracy and corruption are major obstacles. Tension prevails between hierarchy and popular sovereignty, discontent and consensus, and representative and participatory modes of democracy. We would note that stress, hardship, and shortages caused by U.S. economic blockade lasting half a century also are no help.

August says he wanted “to provide readers with some tools for following the future situation [in Cuba] independently, without the blinders of preconceived notions.” He achieved this while also documenting that democratization has proceeded in Cuba over many years. The message is taken that Cuban democracy is unique, especially because pains have been taken to promote political participation, unity, and consensus on behalf of a socialist future. That’s perhaps one explanation for Cuba’s lonely survival as a socialist nation following disappearance of the Soviet Union, and for its capacity to withstand U.S. siege.

Cuba and its Neighbors – Democracy in Motion
By Arnold August
Fernwood Publishing, Halifax, Winnipeg, 2013
ISBN 978-1-55266-404-9,