• This Blog on The Cuban Economy is dedicated to Cuba's Generation "A". Although inspired by Yoani Sánchez' blog "Generation Y" this is not dedicated to those with names starting with the letter "A". Instead, it draws from Douglas Coupland's novel Generation A which begins with a quotation from Kurt Vonnegut at a University Commencement that was brought to my attention by Andrew Johnston of Ottawa: ".. ... I hereby declare you Generation A, as much as the beginning of a series of astounding triumphs and failures as Adam and Eve were so long ago."

    The objective of this Blog is to facilitate access to research resources and analyses from all relevant and useful sources, mainly on the economy of Cuba.

CUBA’S SHAMEFUL FRIENDS

Yoani Sanchez,

14ymedio, Generation Y, Havana, 25 May 2016  

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14ymedio, Cuba’s first independent daily digital news outlet, published directly from the island, is available in Spanish here. Translations of selected articles in English are here.

 People with whom we share sorrows and joys are a reflection of ourselves, however different they may appear. As friends we choose them to accompany us, but also to complete us, with the diversity and continuity that our human nature needs. The problem is when our choices of coexistence are not based on affinities and preferences, but on interests and alliances focused on annoying others.

 In the same week, the Cuban executive has embraced two deplorable authoritarian regimes. A few hours after Cuban Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez met with government functionaries in Belarus, Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution hosted a meeting between Raul Castro and a special representative from North Korea’s Workers Party. Disgraceful comrades, shamelessly embraced and praised by the island’s officialdom.

 In a world where civil society, calls for the respect for human rights, and movements that promote the recognition of rights are making themselves heard ever more loudly, it is difficult for the Cuban government to explain his good relations with Europe’s last dictator and with the cruelly capricious grandson who inherited power through his bloodline. What united the island’s authorities with similar political specimens?

 The only possible answer is sticking their finger in the eye of Western democracies and the White House. The problem with this attitude lies in the demands from these fellow travelers for commitments and silences. Diplomatic friendship is converted into complicity and the comrades end up defining the nature of those who have chosen their company.

ZZ Alexandr-Lukashenko-poder-Bielorrusia-CC_CYMIMA20150808_0003_16 Alexandr Lukashenko, who  has been in power in Belarus since 1994

  z Raul_Castro_y_Kim_Yong_Chol_Korea_Norte_f_Estudio_RevolucionCuban President, Raul Castro Ruz, received on Tuesday afternoon May 24, Kim Yong Chol, a member of the Politburo of the Worker’s Party of Korea.

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GRANMA, OFFICIAL RECORD OF THE SEVENTH CONGRESS OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA.

GRANMA, EDICIÓN ESPECIAL, SÁBADO, 14, M AYO 2016

“El desarrollo de la economía nacional, junto a la lucha por la paz y la firmeza ideológica, constituyen las principales misiones del Partido”

The complete document in a PDF File is here: GRANMA, EDICIÓN ESPECIAL, SÁBADO, 14, M AYO 2016

Or Here: http://www.granma.cu/file/pdf/gaceta/congreso%20pcc.pdf

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CUBA’S ECONOMIC PROSPECTS IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE VII PARTY CONGRESS: A FEW TENTATIVE REMARKS

 By Alberto Gabriele

Introduction

 This article proposes a synthetic and tentative interpretation  of  Cuba’s present economic perspectives. Its approach is meant to be an intrinsically dialectic one. As such, it emphasizes the diverse roles played by exogenous and endogenous, domestic and external, economic and political factors, and by their reciprocal interactions. In my view, such a methodological approach can be fruitful to analyze the development of any distinct socioeconomic formation unfolding in a unique moment in time, but particularly so in the case of Cuba, a small island whose history has been and is still shaped very strongly by its uneven relation with the US and by the weight of ideology in economic policy.

Every country’s economic trajectory is the product of the dialectical interaction of several sets of endogenous and exogenous, domestic and external factors. From the subjective viewpoint of economic policy-makers, endogenous factors are to be interpreted as those that can be shaped by their own present and future actions. Obviously, policy-makers constitute a small but very influential group of technicians-politicians. Yet, they are endowed with limited degrees of freedom, due to a host of constraints stemming not only from the external world, but also from their cooperative/conflicting relations with other branches of the government, from the contradictions and tensions internal to their own group, and from the impact of non-governmental societal forces and movements.

The latter forces and movements  (whose composition and relative strength differs  markedly from  one country to another)  can condition and affect the economic policy-making process through a number of formal and informal channels, only some of which clearly manifest themselves as belonging to the political sphere. This phenomenon can be interpreted as the endogenization of societal factors into the policy-making machine. In the case of Cuba, where no formal multiparty democracy exists but the social and cultural fabric is not monolithic, the main channel through which endogenization works is the interaction between the Party and the rest of the  population.

Exogenous factors are both domestic and external.  Domestic exogenous factors are shaped mainly by the natural environment and from history. At any given point in time, each country’s climate and its endowment of physical and human capital are partly due to its geographic, geological, climatic and other structural characteristics, and partly to the cumulative results of human actions carried out by domestic and external agents. For instance, the availability and fertility of arable land depends at least in part from past agricultural and urbanization policies. Human capital is the product of past and present education policies. The balance of payments is the result of the interaction of many domestic and foreign economic forces and of the policy decisions taken in the past to cope with them.

Economic, financial and political external factors, for most countries, are largely but not exclusively the product of  forces beyond the control of their own government and policy-makers. In the case of Cuba, the present reality of the embargo and – more broadly – the more or less aggressive  stance of the US and their allies are, from the latter’s vantage point, the result  of Cuba’s resilience and foreign policy actions since the Revolution. Therefore, notwithstanding its traditional David vs Goliath relation with her powerful neighbor, the island’s ability to influence US Cuban policy stance should not be underestimated.

Continue Reading: Gabriele, CUBA CONGRESS 25 05 2016

 

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THE CUBA CAMPAIGN TO DIMINISH OBAMA’S VISIT

May 18, 2016 7:14 PM

Miami Herald: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/article78499207.html#storylink=cpy

By Franco Ordoñez

Since President Barack Obama left Cuba, the Castro government has carried out a campaign to diminish the importance of the historic visit, according to Cuban human rights activists and U.S. officials.

Obama’s trip to Havana in March – part of ongoing efforts to normalize relations with Cuba –made him the first sitting U.S. president to visit the island in nearly 90 years. Activist Antonio Rodiles described how the Cuban government had launched a media push criticizing the U.S. government and praising communist leadership.

“They were trying to encapsulate – to close or create a bubble – around the visit. And they started to talk about the communist congress party. A lot of articles attacked the president’s position,” Rodiles said Wednesday during a panel discussion in Washington.

The dissident leader said, however, that Obama’s message still had gotten through to the Cuban people. Rodiles joined former Ambassador Roger Noriega, the former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs at the State Department, for a discussion on human rights in Cuba at the American Enterprise Institute research center in Washington.

Rodiles described the situation in Cuba as a fight over the public space in that country. And he doesn’t think Obama demanded enough on human rights, allowing the Cuban government to give the “illusion” of change while it works to transition power to a younger generation of Castros.

“This is something crucial for me and many people who are working on this, to show to the whole international community, to show to the Cuban people, to show to everybody that if the Castro family is there, nothing is going to change,” Rodiles said.

Since embarking on cozier relations with Cuban leader Raúl Castro last year, the Obama administration has been eliminating stiff regulations on travel and commerce. It has expanded opportunities for Americans to visit the island, but the administration has been criticized for not doing enough to fight human rights.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, a group that tracks human rights and political repression in Cuba, reported more than 8,600 politically motivated detentions in 2015, a 315 percent increase from five years ago. In the first two months of this year, there had already been more than 2,500 arrests.

Rodiles said more people were willing to speak out about their frustrations as they saw an opening for change, but he said it had also given the Cuban government a sense of legitimacy.

It’s important to keep the focus on Cuba while Obama remains in office, Noriega said. Obama placed a bet that this opening will bring about change. Noriega, who has raised concerns about the opening of relations, said momentum was beginning to slow as multinationals reported that there was little investment opportunity.

He pushed Obama to focus more on human rights:

“You can’t separate economic rights and political freedoms, because the pillar of both of them is the rule of law. If you don’t have the rule of law, you’re not going to be able to create the economy they need.”

Rodiles praised parts of the president’s visit. He thanked Obama for spending so much time with opposition leaders. The president’s speech, he said, was the first time in 60 years for many Cubans to hear someone talk about human freedoms.

But he said the United States needed to decide who really were its friends:

“The people are pushing and facing the Cuban regime. We’re the friends of the democracy world. And we’re taking the risk for that. We need your support.”

z rodilesAntonio Rodiles

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CUBA’S FAST-GROWING MARIEL TARGETS TRANSSHIPMENT CARGO

JOC, MAY 19, 2016

Greg Miller

Original Article: http://www.joc.com/port-news/international-ports/cuba-port-plans-be-transshipment-hub-after-us-lifts-embargo_20160518.html

Cuba’s Mariel container terminal has already planned its transformation into a major transshipment hub after theU.S. trade embargo ends, according to TC Mariel General Director Charles Baker.

In an address to the Caribbean Shipping Association Executives’ Conference held near Port Canaveral, Florida, Baker described surging growth at TC Mariel, its short- and long-term expansion plans and strategy to diversify beyond domestic cargo into transshipment.

The PSA International-operated terminal opened in January of 2014. Throughput at Mariel grew 35 percent in 2015, reaching 330,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units, and is up 29 percent year-to-date this year as a result of Cuba’s “booming” tourism trade, Baker said.

The container terminal has four gantry cranes, 2,296 feet of quay and a capacity of roughly 800,000 TEUs annually. In the next two to three years another 984 feet of quay will be added so that two neo-Panamax ships may berth simultaneously. Mariel’s channel, deep enough for Panamaxes at present, will be dredged to neo-Panamax depths by 2017. Over the longer term the terminal will add another 5,577 feet of quay and boost annual capacity to 3 million TEUs. There are also plans to add general cargo, dry bulk and roll-on, roll-off terminals to the port.

Much hinges on Mariel’s location in Cuba’s far northwest.

Skeptics of the port have argued that this location is unsuitable to transshipment because the east-west services that pass through the Caribbean on their way to the U.S. pass by Cuba’s southeast corner, near Guantanamo Bay. They believe the additional transit time to Mariel would be too great.

Baker, however, believes that Mariel can use its location to its advantage.

He said Mariel aims to be the first port of call for neo-Panamax container ships after passing through the Panama Canal to the U.S. East Coast, with feeder services providing direct connections from Mariel to Gulf Coast ports in Tampa, Florida; Mobile, Alabama; New Orleans, Louisiana; Houston, Texas and Altamira, Mexico.

“It will be a challenge to attract the bigger vessels (that will serve the region after Panama Canal expansion) to circle into the U.S. Gulf, because there would not be enough time in their schedules,” he said, explaining why carriers would prefer to use a hub to serve Gulf ports. Dropping cargo off in Mariel and feedering it to Gulf ports would also be more attractive to shippers, given “vastly improved” transit times, he said. “Today, to ship to Mobile, you’ll have to wait for the vessel to sail in and out of Houston and New Orleans before it gets there.

“When we talk to the carriers and the ports, they do recognize (the benefits of) our geography, but they also recognize very clearly that the U.S. embargo stands in the way of the opportunity we have here,” he said.

Although the embargo is the biggest hurdle to Mariel increasing its transshipment business, another issue is current U.S. law, which dictates that a vessel regardless of flag cannot call at a U.S. port within 180 days of calling in Cuba. This effectively prevents transshipment from Mariel because any vessel deployed for feedering would lose the flexibility to call in the United States for an extended period, and more importantly, mainline vessels cannot sail to final destinations in the United States after dropping off transshipment cargo (bound for non-U.S. destinations) in Mariel.

A repeal of that 180-day rule would be “tremendous” for TC Mariel, Baker said. “It would allow us to enter the international transshipment market.” Baker recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with Congressional staffers and push for an end to the rule.

TC Mariel also benefits from its location within the enormous Special Development Zone of Mariel, or ZED Mariel. “This zone is very, very important and very high on the agenda for the Cuban government,” said Baker. “It has a special set of laws and regulations that are very advantageous to investors and it is the first part of Cuba that allows 100 percent foreign ownership. It is 465 square kilometers (180 square miles) in size, which is half the landmass of Singapore. It is probably the largest greenfield industrial development zone in the world — and it really is green. There is literally nothing there today,” he said, noting how rare it is to have a major port adjacent to a huge expanse where logistics, assembly, industrial and warehousing facilities can be developed without space restrictions.

Interest in ZED Mariel continues to grow and more investments are being made.

“There is a lot of European interest now because they have realized that if the embargo disappears, they will be facing intense pressure in a market where they’ve been well protected from U.S. exporters for the last 54 years,” said Baker. “Some of them are realizing that the way to maintain their market share is to plant themselves in Cuba (before the end of the embargo). They also realize that going forward, there will be a wonderful opportunity to export to the world’s largest consumer market, only 90 miles away.”\Mariel Port, Cuba zz zz1

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MORE ON THE PANAMA PAPERS AND CUBA

Cuban Officials in Panama Papers

Leaked data reveals the existence of dozens of businesses associated with senior figures.

By Reporters in Cuba

Also see IWPR-Cuban-Officials-in-Panama-Papers-supporting-docs

Officials from Cuba’s Communist party used a Swiss lawyer to establish offshore companies for their global business activities, the so-called Panama Papers have revealed.

The unprecedented leak of 11.5 million tax documents from the Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama exposed the offshore holdings and financial transactions of heads of state, officials and celebrities around the world.

Although Cuban law does not include any specific legislation on state officials and offshore interests, such dealings are frowned upon in the strictly communist country.

The Panama Papers revealed that Albert-Louis Dupont Willemin, a lawyer from an aristocratic Swiss family, was a high-level legal advisor and intermediary for more than 20 offshore companies with business ties to Cuba.

zzxxxxzDupont Willemin, who also serves as the honorary consul of Guatemala in Geneva, created two offshore companies located in the British Virgin Islands through registered agent Mossack Fonseca – Curtdale Investments Limited and Ardpoint Company Inc. Dupont Willemin’s office said that he had no interest in commenting on this matter.

Hernán Aguilar Parra, a member of the Cuban Assembly of People’s Power, is listed in the Panama Papers as director of both companies. Parra left office last November 2015, a year after the 2014 general elections.

According to the leaked data, the offshore companies are associated with the Tabacuba Business Group, a state company that owns all production and marketing of Cuban tobacco. Parra also served as Tabacuba director until 2015, and is now believed to have left the tobacco sector.

“Deputies [of the Cuban Assembly] have restrictions,” a spokesman for the legal aid charity the Cubalex Center for Legal Information said. “The role of deputies is ad honores [not seeking any reward] and cannot be used for personal benefit. It is one of the duties established by the law.”

“The law does not impose managers or directors of companies prohibition against establishing relations with private companies,” the spokesman continued.

“But it would not be viewed favourably if a state official, taking advantage of his function of office, establishes trade relations with private companies.”

Tabacuba’s former production director, Inocente Osvaldo Encarnación, was also linked to the offshore Ardpoint Company Inc. During a telephone interview, Osvaldo Encarnación confirmed that he was a shareholder in a company but refused to give its name. He declined to comment on any links to Ardpoint.

The Mossack Fonseca records were obtained by the German publication Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with colleagues from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

OFFSHORE INTERESTS

Although the leaked data does not indicate any specific crime or breach of the law, it gives an intriguing insight into a web of relations.  Corporación Panamericana, based in Havana, is the entity responsible for providing Mossack Fonseca’s services to Cuban companies. According to the papers, Cuban lawyer Katiuska Penado Moreno has been the corporation’s legal representative.

In a brief phone interview, Penado Moreno said she “currently” had no links to Mossack Fonseca or Corporación Panamericana.

Penado Moreno’s name appeared on the Panama Papers in connection with four offshore companies: Miramar Investment Corporation Ltd., Mercaria Trading, Caribbean Sugar Trader and Sanford Financial Management.  Penado Moreno was listed as the beneficial owner  – a legal term where specific property rights belong to one person even though the legal title belongs to another. Dupont Willemin was listed as director of the four companies.

Through Mossack Fonseca, Dupont Willemin founded Racuza SA, a firm offering computers, peripherals and software to the Cuban market.

The general director of foreign investment of the ministry of foreign trade, Déborah Rivas Saavedra, was listed in the Panama Papers as Racuza’s director. She also appears as director of Miramar Investment Ltd and Caribbean Sugar Trader.  After two days trying to reach Rivas Saavedra, her office directed enquiries to Roberto Berrier Castro, director of the Center for the Promotion of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment. He said that he had no information on the matter.

Among Racuza’s deputy directors are José L Fernández de Cossío, Cuba’s former ambassador to Japan, as well as Porfirio Medero Paiva and Hermes Vaillant, two Cuban lawyers working for Panamericana.  Paiva, Cossío, and Vaillant are also listed as directors of Miramar Investment Corporation and Caribbean Sugar Trader.  It was not possible to locate any of them for comment.

The Panama Papers gave an insight into the legal arrangements between the Cuban government and Mossack Fonseca.  International Legal Consultancy (CJI) is a Cuban law firm that provides legal assistance and advice to individuals and corporations.  It is also a legal partner of Mossack Fonseca, and became the main agent between it and the Cuban government in charge of providing legal services.

When contacted, CJI directed enquiries to lawyer René de Jesús Burguet Rodríguez, whose name also appeared in an email exchange between CJI and Mossack Fonseca. No response was received by the time of publication.

The leaked data included other links between officials and offshore companies.  The Union of Investigations and Water Projects is a consultancy service of the National Institute for Hydraulic Resources (INRH), the government institution in charge of hydraulic and sewer networks on the island.

The Union was listed as a shareholder in Técnica Hidráulica, an offshore company located in the British Virgin Islands and created through Corporación Panamericana. The company – owned by a Cuba-based INRH trade company called Técnica Hidráulica SA – operated until 2015 when, according to the Panama Papers, it was dissolved.

CJI was in charge, according to a contract, of representing the legal affairs of Técnica Hidráulica SA’s offshore companies, managed by Mossack Fonseca.

The Panama Papers revealed that Wilfredo Leyva Armesto, also known as William Leyva, was director of Técnica Hidráulica. Leyva could not be reached for comment.

A spokesperson at the Cuban parliament said that they could not answer any questions related to the Panama Papers.

This work is a collaborative project with the Czech Center for Investigative Journalism, IWPR, Cuban freelance journalists, Cubanet and Diario de Cuba

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Cuba: Ministerio de Salud Publica, ANUARIO ESTADISTICO DE SALUD, 2015

Below is a link to Cuba’s newly published Anuario Estadistico de Salud, a comprehensive statistical picture of Cuba’s health record.

Anuario_Estadistico de Salud, Cuba, 2015

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PANAMA PAPERS REVEAL CUBAN-LINKED OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS

Capitol Hill Cubans, at 10:14 AM Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Original Article: http://www.capitolhillcubans.com/2016/05/panama-papers-reveal-cuban-linked.html

Yesterday, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released a database of offshore entities created by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, one of the world’s top creators of hard-to-trace secret companies, anonymous trusts and foundations.

The database contains thirteen entities with links to the Castro regime.  They include

  • Amadis Compañia Naviera SA,
  • B.B. Naft Trading SA,
  • Pescatlan SA,
  • Acepex Management SA,
  • Seagulls and Seafoods SA,
  • Comercail Mercadu SA,
  • Travelnet LTD,
  • Resimevis Limited, Mavis Group SA,
  • Tecnica Hidraulica SA,
  • Octagon Industrial LTD,
  • Corporacion Panamericana SA and
  • Labiofam SA.

Labiofam S.A. is one of the Castro regime’s pharmaceutical companies from where they market various cancer “miracle drug” scams.

Corporacion Panamericana SA, is a subsidiary of Castro’s GECOMEX (Grupo Empresarial del Comercio Exterior), led by Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Commerce, Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz.  Malmierca Diaz, a senior Cuban intelligence official in charge of foreign trade and investment for the Castro regime, is a favorite of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Cuba Business Council.

The database also contains eighteen individuals linked to the Castro regime. It features

  • Victor Moro Suarez, head of the Association of Spanish Businessmen in Cuba;
  • Inocente Osvaldo Encarnacion, director of Tabacuba;
  • Alejandro Gutierrez Madrigal, commercial attache of the Cuban Embassy in London; and
  • Wilfredo Leyva Armesto, director of the Institute of Hydraulic Resources.

Others named are Rolando Diaz Gonzalez, Orlando Romero Merida, Armando Rosales Fernandez, Paola Perticone, Jeroen J. Van Der Lip, Atilio Enrique Wagner, Antonio Gonzalez Checa, Forconi Ignacio Miguel Raul, Katiuska Penado Moreno, Lorenzo Paciello, Wael Bassatina, Ramon Chavez Gutierrez, Miriam Prieto and Jose Luis Baena Carrion.

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BETWEEN REFORMS AND REPRESSION, CAN CUBA’S NEW FORCES OF CHANGE SUCCEED?

Ted A. Henken and Armando Chaguaceda

WORLD POLITICS REVIEW, | Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Original Article Here: Henken & Chaguaceda, Between Reforms and Repression Can Cubas New Forces of Change Succeed – WPR -

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CUBA BACKTRACKS ON FOOD REFORMS AS CONSERVATIVES RESIST CHANGE

Reuters, HAVANA, Fri Apr 29, 2016 5:56pm EDT

By Marc Frank

 Original Article: Cuba backtracks on food reform

Cuba decided at a secretive Communist Party congress last week to reverse market reforms in food distribution and pricing, according to reports in official media, reflecting tensions within the party about the pace of economic change.

President Raul Castro unveiled an ambitious market reform agenda in one of the world’s last Soviet-style command economies after he took office a decade ago, but the reforms moved slowly in the face of resistance from conservatives and bureaucrats.  At the April 16-19 congress, Castro railed against an “obsolete mentality” that was holding back modernization of Cuba’s socialist economy. But he also said the leadership needed to respond quickly to problems like inflation unleashed by greater demand as a result of reforms in other sectors.

In response, delegates voted to eliminate licenses for private wholesale food distribution, according to reports over the past week in the Communist Party daily, Granma, and state television. Delegates said the state would contract, distribute and regulate prices for 80 to 90 percent of farm output this year, compared to 51 percent in 2014, according to debates broadcast in edited form days after the event.  Reuters reported in January that Cuba had begun a similar rollback in some provinces, increasing its role in distribution again and regulating prices. The decision at the congress will extend that program.

Data released in March showed that Cuba’s farm output has barely risen since 2008, when Castro formally took over from his brother Fidel, contributing to a spike in food prices blamed on supply-demand mismatch.

Cuba imports more than 60 percent of the food it consumes.

The Union of Young Communists’ newspaper, Juventud Rebelde, reported late last year that the price of a basket of the most common foods increased 49 percent between 2010 and early 2015.  There are no government statistics on food inflation.

While hurricanes and drought have played a part in poor farm output, some experts and farmers say Cuba did not go far enough in allowing farmers freer access to seeds and fertilizers to increase production.

BACKTRACKING

But demand is rising fast. Relaxation of restrictions on self-employment has led to a boom in small restaurants, at a time when Cuba’s detente with the West is leading to record numbers of tourists and an emerging consumer class.

According to the reports, there was no discussion at the congress of moving ahead with plans to allow farmers to buy supplies from wholesale outlets, instead of having them assigned by the state.  Nor was there mention of another reform, also adopted five years ago and never implemented, to have cooperatives join forces to perform tasks currently in state hands, for example ploughing fields.

The state owns nearly 80 percent of arable land in Cuba, leasing most of it to cooperatives and individual farmers. It has a monopoly on imports and their distribution.

“They never fully carried out the reforms and gave them time to work. They stopped half way and appear unable to come up with any other solution than backtracking,” said a local agriculture expert, who asked to remain anonymous.  He said farmers often had no equipment and few supplies such as seed.

The government reported leafy and root vegetable output at 5 million tonnes in 2015, similar to 2008, and unprocessed rice and bean production of 418,000 tonnes and 118,000 tonnes, compared with 436,000 tonnes and 117,000 tonnes eight years ago. Cuba produced 363,000 tonnes of corn last year, just 3,000 more than when Castro took office.

 Cuba April 2015 044Still the Best Cigar Tobacco in the World:Vinales, above and a Tobacco Farmer near Vinales.  (Photo by A. Ritter, April 2015)
Cuba April 2015 053

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