Posts Tagged ‘socialism’

Private enterprise and U.S. policy toward Cuba

June 14, 2014


By Jesús Arboleya • Published on ProgresoWeekly

HAVANA — There seems to be a consensus over the opinion that the state’s control over the Cuban economy, perhaps a necessity at the beginning, ended up being excessive and counterproductive to the good operation of the economic model. It also generated a bureaucracy whose actions are often a source of political problems and ideological deviations from the system.

Due to this, the fostering of non-state forms of production and services, as part of the so-called “actualization” of the Cuban economic model, has been well received in Cuba and abroad, being perceived as a healthy reform of the national economy.

It is true that such a scheme posits the growth of a sector of the population that will not be attached to the social property managed by the State but will function through the sale of its personal labor, the establishment of small and medium private enterprises or collective forms of property, such as the cooperatives.

To some Marxists who defend the “purity” of the alleged socialist model — I say “alleged” because I don’t believe that there is a model that defines socialism — this process will inexorably lead to the development of a bourgeoisie that will eventually try to terminate the system.

It is interesting that this appreciation is shared by diverse political and intellectual sectors in the United States, which defend the idea of reconstructing the agenda of U.S. policy with an eye to achieving a “regime change,” while assuming that the private sector will become the social base for the opposition to the socialist system.

Evidently, this exemplifies the saying that the extremes always end up touching each other. The existence of a private sector that coexists with state property is not foreign to the Cuban socialist model, much less to other socialist experiences in the world. It is not even a prerogative of socialism as a system, inasmuch as state capitalism is a reality throughout the world.

The variables that can bring it closer to — or pit it against — the regime in question are infinite and, to my knowledge, the petit bourgeoisie, as a class, has never made a revolution or counter-revolution by itself, although it is true that it has participated in all of them since feudalism.

A disgruntled state worker is a bigger problem for socialism than an ambitious small businessman, because in the former lies the essence of the system.

It is natural that a dogmatic Marxist would despise the petit bourgeoisie and consider it incapable of joining the social well-being, but it is symptomatic that sectors of the bourgeoisie think in the same manner about elements in their own class. Could it be that they’re looking at themselves in a mirror?

Why should small and medium entrepreneurs necessarily become enemies of a socialism that integrates them into the system?

Seen from that perspective, socialism is a regime where each one receives according to his contribution to society. Therefore, there are no parasitic millionaires, subsidized slackers or opportunistic bureaucrats. Also a place where the most vulnerable are protected, not just people but also the land, the animals, the plants, even the air we breathe.

Under those conditions, neither the state worker has to be a “counterpart” of his own management nor the private worker an enemy of the state that protects his interests not only as an entrepreneur but also as a citizen.

The essence of this issue, as I see it, is the people’s participation and control of each of the links that intervene in the process. I don’t wish to talk about democracy, because it is a prostituted term that serves to justify anything. But let’s say that the answer lies somewhere in that area and, difficult as it may be to materialize it, it is worth trying.,

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:,


August 5, 2013


By Manuel E. Yepe

The Cuban ration book is now 50 years old, and Cubans are remembering this with a display of humor and pride.

There were humoristic TV and radio shows full of popular jokes and mockery recalling the birth of the “libreta de los mandados” [ration booklet for groceries] –as Cubans have called it since its emergence in July 1963.

The libreta was a response by the revolutionary project to the malicious measures of the commercial and economic blockade decreed by the government of the United States, and made official in 1962.

On April 6, 1960, the genocidal policy was formalized. On that day, Lester I.D. Mallory, the State Department’s Assistant Undersecretary for Inter American Affairs, wrote in a secret report –declassified in 1991- that the majority of Cubans supported the Revolution, and therefore the objective of overthrowing the Cuban Government had to be achieved “swiftly, using all means to weaken their economic life with a line of action as skillful and discreet as possible to promote disappointment and frustration that would arise from dissatisfaction and economic difficulties; denying money and supplies to reduce real salaries and financial resources to cause hunger, despair and the overthrow of the government.”

The libreta has served, during the half century of its existence, to guarantee each one of the 11 million Cuban citizens a modest food basket (rice, beans, bread, coffee, eggs, meat, sugar, cooking oil, and other products) at state-subsidized prices, in order to exclude hunger – the denigrating social phenomenon typical of market economies from which not even the highly industrialized countries escape- from the everyday reality of Cubans.

As a defense mechanism against Washington’s goal of overthrowing Cuba’s revolutionary government through hunger, the libreta and its associated sub-systems of collecting and distributing products, constitute a complex supply network which comprises the egalitarian basic food distribution system that operates in Cuba.

The libreta has played a bigger or smaller role in the diet of Cubans, sharing its function with other mechanisms, such as the venta liberada or the mercado paralelo [products available for purchase outside the rationing scheme] whose difference from the libreta is that their products are not subsidized.

During the crisis the island suffered in the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which had been its main support in the struggle against the U.S. blockade, Washington intensified its measures of economic suffocation with opportunistic aims.

The Torricelli Act was passed in 1992, giving a legal foundation for the blockade’s regulations, and conditioning its lifting on issues related to human rights and “democratization” — policies systematically manipulated by U.S. diplomacy.

In 1996, the Helms-Burton Act increased the extraterritorial nature of the blockade by making it applicable to branches of U.S. companies overseas, and forbidding merchant ships of any flag to touch U.S. ports for a period of six months after touching Cuban ports.

Cuba then applied a survival strategy of policies and measures that as a whole was named the “Special Period”. Among these measures was the creation of several chains of shops to collect convertible currencies. Their aim was to stimulate foreign currency incomes by offering products that are not normally sold in the national network which offers goods and services.

To complement this measure, the Cuban banking system issued -in parallel to the national currency- the convertible peso which is the only currency accepted at the shops that collect convertible currencies.

The dual currency fulfilled its role of collecting the convertible currencies urgently needed by the economy after the crisis of the 90’s, but it has also created social inequalities and complex accounting and practical problems. These are in the process of solution and represent one of the main economic objectives of the ongoing process of updating the Cuban socialist model

The libreta has survived much longer than the dual currency, and has also rendered a remarkable service to the survival strategy of the Cuban Revolution. It will also disappear in the short or medium term. The concrete advances the Cuban economy has been experiencing, despite the blockade and the persistent hostility of its powerful neighbor, allows and advises setting the objective of eliminating the ration book. This must be done based on the premises that the state should subsidize persons instead of products, that nobody should be abandoned without help, and that education and health services remain free and available for all.

July 2013.

A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.