• 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.

Dissidents arrested at Paya funeral in Cuba

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, July 24, 2012

Cuban police arrested dozens of dissidents Tuesday after the funeral of Oswaldo Paya, a political activist whose sudden death in a road accident triggered grief and suspicion, AFP reporters said. Those arrested included Guillermo Farinas, a leading rights activist, who was held for questioning by plainclothes police deployed outside the Havana church where Paya’s funeral was held.

At the Funeral of Oswaldo Paya

Farinas, known for hunger strikes that drew attention to the plight of political prisoners in Cuba, and about 50 others were stopped by police after emerging from the funeral mass shouting slogans against the government.

They were forced onto two buses that the church had provided to take people to the cemetery where Paya was to be buried.

Two of Paya’s children have questioned the official account of how their father was killed.

Authorities said Paya, 60, died along with another dissident, Harold Cepero Escalante, on Sunday when their rental car went off the road and struck a tree in southeastern Cuba.

Separately, a Spanish national who was driving the car in which Paya was killed was taken into custody by Cuban police for questioning after being released from a Havana hospital on Monday, a Spanish embassy source said.

The source said Angel Carromero Barrios, a 27-year-old activist with the youth wing of Spain’s ruling Popular Party, was being held in Bayamo, 744 kilometers (462 miles) southeast of Havana.

“He is still in Bayamo, in a detention center,” the source said.

A Swede, 27-year-old Jens Aron Modig, also was in the car at the time of the crash. He was treated at a local hospital and released. The Swedish embassy would not comment on his situation.

Paya, winner of the European Union’s Sakharov prize for human rights in 2002, is best known for confronting the Cuban parliament that year with a petition signed by 11,000 people demanding political change in Cuba.

Known as the “Varela Project,” the initiative was instrumental in opening debate in Cuba on the direction of a communist regime dominated for more than half a century by Fidel Castro and his brother Raul.

Paya was eulogized Tuesday by Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the archbishop of Havana and a key intermediary with Cuba’s ageing leadership, as a man whose political activism was rooted in his Christian faith.

“Oswaldo had a clear political vocation and, as a good Christian, this did not distance him from his faith or religious practice,” Ortega said.

“On the contrary, he always looked to his Christian faith as inspiration for his political options.”

His death brought a flood of reaction praising his courage and dedication to human rights.

Pope Benedict XVI extended condolences to Paya’s family in a statement that Ortega read at the funeral service.

In Chile, two lawmakers complained that they had been denied visas to attend Paya’s funeral. Senator Patricio Walker and congressman Juan Carlos Latorre, both members of Chile’s Christian Democratic party, had applied for the visas Monday at the Cuban consulate in Santiago.

“They had given me the visa, the truth is I was bit surprised,” Walker told reporters. “The consul called me and said that it was a mistake, that tourist visas could not be given to holders of diplomatic passports.”

 

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Cuba economy czar says cooperatives by year-end

By PETER ORSI Associated Press; July 23, 2012

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba’s economy czar said Monday that plans are in place to begin an experimental phase of non-state cooperatives in sectors ranging from food services to transportation by the end of the year.

While cooperative farming has already begun, Cubans have been waiting for regulations allowing them to form worker-owned co-ops in other sectors. The pilot program announced by Marino Murillo in a session of Cuba’s parliament will include 222 cooperatives.

The creation of midsize cooperatives is a long-promised lynchpin of President Raul Castro’s economic reforms, and Cuba’s economy czar promised state support to jump-start the pilot program. Murillo said some will be converted state-run enterprises, and co-ops will be given preference over private single-owner businesses.

“For these cooperatives and the non-state entities, in the coming year $100 million is being budgeted which is the financing necessary so they can be assured production, because if we create them and there is no financing, they won’t work,” Murillo told lawmakers in one of the parliament’s twice-a-year sessions.

He also reiterated that Cuba must also make its state-run enterprises more efficient and productive, since they will continue to dominate.

“The most important part of our economy will be the socialist state enterprise,” Murillo said. “Don’t think that all of a sudden the private-sector workers will generate $40 billion, $50 billion in GDP.”

Castro’s five-year plan to overhaul the economy has already legalized the sale of homes and cars and swelled the ranks of private-sector entrepreneurs by a quarter-million since 2010. Nearly all are small mom-and-pop shops, however, the likes of restaurants, cell-phone repair shops and jewelers.

Cuba insists that the reforms are not are not a wholesale embrace of capitalism but rather an “updating” of the nation’s socialist model, and most key sectors will remain under government control.

Other than a statute on taxation, no new laws were announced Monday. Foreign journalists were not allowed access to the session of the National Assembly, but state television aired Murillo’s speech in the evening. For islanders wondering whether the assembly would take action on long-promised reform of travel restrictions, it was another disappointment.

Early this year, Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon said in an interview that a “radical and profound” change to the rules, which keep most Cubans from leaving the country, was imminent.

There has been no word since then about scrapping the much-loathed “tarjeta blanca,” or “white card,” which islanders must apply for to travel abroad. Speaking to parliament, Castro repeated that the government still intends to reform the migratory rules, but did not say when it might happen. “It has not been relegated. On the contrary,” Castro said. “We have continued working toward its gradual relaxation, taking into account the associated side-effects.”

The pace of Castro’s reforms has slowed this year with no blockbuster changes announced since December, leading many economists to question whether Cuba can meet its own targets for reducing bloated state payrolls by 1 million workers, and shifting 40 percent of the economy into non-state control.

Last week, the island’s burgeoning small business class was dealt a blow with the low-key announcement of new, stiff tariffs on imported goods. The entrepreneurs say that without access to wholesale markets, the only way they can supply their businesses is through “mules” who transit between Cuba and places such as Miami, Ecuador and Panama with their bags stuffed with food, spices, clothing, electronics, diapers and other items tough to come by on the island.

On Monday, Cuban state media published an article seeking to quiet what it called the “numerous comments and anxieties” about the new customs duties. It made no mention of the small businesses, however, and insisted that the measures were necessary because excess baggage is slowing down service at the airport, making it resemble a cargo terminal.

Murillo said Monday that Cuba is studying how to establish wholesale markets, but did not announce specific plans.

Economists say it’s clear that Castro’s changes are here to stay, but change is happening slowly and measures to stimulate the private sector come with other decisions throwing up obstacles in entrepreneurs’ paths. “It’s very confusing because they are really sending mixed signals,” said Sergio Diaz-Briquets, a Cuba analyst based in the Washington area.

Castro also reiterated that the government will not be pressured into hurrying. “On a national level and above all in the exterior, there has been no lack of appeals, not always well-intentioned, to accelerate the pace of transformation,” Castro said. “It is a matter of such scope upon which the country’s socialist and independent future depends, that there will never be space for the siren calls that call us to immediately dismantle socialism and impose so-called shock therapies on the people.”

Cuba celebrates Revolution Day on Thursday. The date is sometimes used to make major announcements, though less so in recent years since Castro replaced his older brother Fidel as president.

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Canada Offers Condolences on Death of Cuban Activist

 

July 24, 2012 – The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs), today issued the following statement on the death of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas:

“I was saddened to learn of the tragic death of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas.

“Mr. Payá dedicated his life to defending civil liberties and human rights, and he was one of Cuba’s most prominent voices for democratic change. He received the Sakharov Prize in 2002. In 2005, and again in 2011, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

“His commitment to dialogue and non-violence and his support for a vibrant civil society in which religious organizations play an important role stand out as a positive example for the continued development of democracy in Cuba. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of this tireless champion of freedom and democracy.”

- 30 -

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Gemma Collins
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs)
613-944-1291

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874

 

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Omar Everleny Pérez and Pavel Vidal, “Relanzamiento del cuentapropismo en medio del ajuste estructural”

Below is a Power Point Presentation prepared for the “Seminar on Prospects for Cuba’s Economy” at the Bildner Center, City University of New York, on May 21, 2012 by Pavel Vidal Alejandro and Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva. Unfortunately Omar was unable to make the CUNY session himself due to visa and flight delays and complications.

The full presentation can be found here: Pavel y Omar Relanzamiento del Cuentapropismo en medio del ajuste estructural

Pavel Vidal Alejandro and Omar Everleny Pérez

 

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Cuba’s Economic Problems and Prospects in a Changing Geo-Economic Environment

By Arch Ritter

Below is a Power Point Presentation made at the “Seminar on Prospects for Cuba’s Economy” at the Bildner Center, City University of New York, on May 21, 2012.

The full presentation can be found here: CUNY Bildner Presention, Arch Ritter on Cuba’s Economic Problems and Prospects….”, May 21 2012

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Yoani Sanchez, “Should the U.S. raise a fist or offer a hand to Cuba?”

July 10, 2012

Yoani Sanchez, CNN

Havana, Cuba (CNN) — In the nineties a certain joke became very popular in the streets and homes of Cuba. It began with Pepito — the mischievous boy of our national humor — and told how his teacher, brandishing a photo of the U.S. president, launches into a harsh diatribe against him.

“The man you see here is the cause of all our problems, he has plunged this island into shortages and destroyed our productivity, he is responsible for the lack of food and the collapse of public transport,” the teacher says.

After these fierce accusations the teacher points to the face in the photo and asks her most wayward student, “Do you know who this is?” Smiling, Pepito replies, “Oh yes … I know him, it’s just that without his beard I didn’t recognize him.”

The joke reflects, to a large measure, the polarization of national opinion with regard to our economic difficulties and the restrictions on citizens’ rights that characterize the current Cuban system. While the official discourse points to the United States as the source of our greatest problems, many others see the Plaza of the Revolution itself as the root of all the failures of the last 53 years.

True or not, the reality is that each one of the eleven administrations that has passed through the White House since 1959 has influenced the course of this island, sometimes directly, other times as a pillar of support for the ideological propaganda of Fidel Castro’s government (and now that of his younger brother Raúl).

Hence the growing expectations that circulate through the largest of the Antilles every time elections come around to decide who will sit in the Oval Office. Cuban politics depends so greatly on what happens in the ballot boxes on the other side of the Florida Straits — and some share the view that we have never been so dependent on our neighbor to the north.

Cuban diplomacy seems more comfortable contradicting America than seeking to solve the problems between the nations, which is why many analysts agree it would be easier for Raúl Castro to cope with an aggressive policy from Uncle Sam than with the more pragmatic approach of Barack Obama.

Obama’s easing of the rules on family remittances, reestablishing academic travel, and increasing cultural exchanges add up to an unwieldy formula difficult for the Castro regime’s rhetoric to manage. But the regime has also tried to wring economic and political advantages from these gestures from Washington.

The real question in this dispute is which approach would more greatly affect democratization in Cuba — to display a fist? Or to offer a hand? To recognize the legitimacy of the government on the island? Or to continue to treat it as a kidnapper holding power over 11 million hostages?

When the Democratic party, led by Barack Obama, came to the White House in January 2009, our official press was faced with a dilemma. On the one hand the newly elected president’s youth and his African descent made him immediately popular with Cubans, and it was not uncommon to find people walking the streets wearing a shirt or hat displaying the face of the former senator from Illinois. It was the first time in decades that some compatriots dared to publicly wear a picture of the “enemy” (the U.S. president) himself.

For a population that saw the top leaders of our own government approaching or passing 80, the image of a cheerful, limber, smiling Obama was more consistent with the myth of the Revolutionary than were the old men in olive green standing behind the national microphones.

Obama’s magnetism also captivated many here as well, and disappointed, of course, those who hoped for a heavier hand toward the gerontocracy in Havana.

Farewell socialism … hello to pragmatism

Beyond the political issues, the measures undertaken by the Obama administration were felt quickly in many Cuban families, particularly in their economy and relations with their exiled relatives in America.

With the increased cash from remittances, the small businesses that emerged from Raul Castro’s reforms were able to use the money coming from the north for start-up capital and to position themselves. Meanwhile, thousands of Cuban-Americans arrived at José Martí airport every week loaded with packages, medicine and clothes to support their relatives on the island.

Those who see the Cuban situation as a pressure cooker that needs just a little more heat to explode feel defrauded by these “concessions” to Havana from the Democratic government. They are the same people who suggest that a hard line — belligerence on the diplomatic scene and economic suffocation — would deliver better results.

Sadly, however, the guinea pigs required to test the efficacy of such an experiment would be Cubans on the island, physically and socially wasting away until some point at which our civic consciousness would supposedly “wake up.” As if there are not enough historical examples to show that totalitarian regimes become stronger as their economic crises deepen and international opinion turns against them.

No wonder Mitt Romney is a much talked about figure in the official Cuban press. His strong confrontational positions feed the anti-imperialism discourse like fuel to a fire. The Republican candidate has been the focus of numerous articles in the official organ of the Communist Party, the newspaper Granma. His photos and caricatures appear in this same daily that was stymied when trying to physically mock Obama. Given the high rate of mixed marriages among Cubans, it’s quite sensitive to enlarge the ears and fatten the lips of the U.S. president without it reading as racist ridicule.

If, in the eighties, the media’s political humor was honed in the wrinkled face of Ronald Reagan, and later the media had a field day with the physique of George W. Bush, for four years it has been cautious with the current resident of the White House. All this graphic moderation will go by the wayside if Mitt Romney is elected as the next president of the United States. There are those who are already laughing over the possible jokes to come.

But whoever scores the electoral victory will find Cuba in a state of change. The reforms carried out by Raúl Castro lack the speed and depth most people desire, but are heading in the irreversible direction of economic opening. Havana is full of private cafés and restaurants, we can now buy and sell homes, and Cubans are even managing to sell the cars given to them during the era of Soviet subsidies in exchange for political loyalty. The timid changes driven by the General President are threatening to damage the fundamental pillars of Fidel Castro’s command. Volunteerism at any cost, coarse egalitarianism, active adventures abroad, and a country kept in a state of constant tension by the latest economic or political campaign appear to be gradually fading into things of the past.

On the other hand, citizens themselves have begun to experience the most definitive of transformations, that which occurs within. Public criticism is on the rise, although it has not yet found ways to be heard in all its diversity, but every day the fear of police reprisals diminishes.

The official media have unquestionably lost a monopoly on the flow of information and thanks to illegal satellite dishes Florida television now comes to Cuba. Alternative news networks circulate documentaries, films, and articles from independent journalists and bloggers. It’s as if the enormous ocean liner of Revolutionary censorship was taking on water through every porthole.

Young people are finally pushing to have Internet access, while the retired complain about their miserable pensions and almost everyone disagrees with the travel restrictions that prevent our leaving and returning to our own country. In short, the illusion of unanimity has fallen to pieces in Raúl Castro’s hands.

To this internal scenario, the result of the American elections could be a catalyst or obstacle for changes, but it is no longer the most important factor to consider. Although the billboards lining the streets continue to paint the United States as Goliath wanting to crush little David who represents our island, for an increasing number of people the metaphor doesn’t play out that way. They know that in our case the abusive giant is a government that tries to control the smallest aspects of our national life, while his opponent is a people who, bit by bit, is becoming more conscious of its real stature.

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Rapid Expansion of Private Restaurants

From Trabajadores, June 27, 2012

Iliana Hautrive / 27-06-2012

Courtesy of Ted Henken, author of El Yuma.

Original here: Mantienen estabilidad los elaboradores-vendedores de alimentos y bebidas que prestan servicio gastronómico por cuenta propia en La Habana.

Paladar “Dona Eutimia” Callejon del Chorro Plaza de la Catedral, opened February 2010

Hal Klepac at another fine paladar, 23 y Calle G (Avenida de los Presidentes)

De excelentes restaurantes se califican los conocidos paladares que hoy funcionan en La Habana, la capital de Cuba, con una cifra de 376 al cierre de mayo último.

Isabel Hamze Ruíz, directora provincial de Trabajo y Seguridad Social en el territorio, confirmó que esta actividad de trabajo no estatal mantiene una línea ascendente, desde octubre de 2010, cuando en el país se amplió y flexibilizó el quehacer por cuenta propia, y en La Habana prestaban servicio entonces unos 74 de estos centros.

Dijo que esos lugares no son mayoritarios dentro de la rama de elaboradores-vendedores de alimentos, pues los que ejercen al detalle en sus domicilios o de forma ambulatoria sobrepasaron los 10 mil 900, y quienes tienen cafeterías (puntos fijos) llegaron a dos mil 567 cuando finalizó el quinto mes del presente año.

Sin embargo, comentó, es una fuerza laboral estable, que a no ser en casos puntuales de solicitud de bajas, como en otras actividades, se consolida tras haber realizado importantes inversiones e, incluso, estudios de mercado, por parte de sus titulares.

En esos restaurantes es apreciable una variedad de ofertas y elevada calidad del servicio, dentro de un espectro que va desde pequeñas fonditas para pocos comensales, hasta aquellos que cuentan con las 50 capacidades autorizadas en cada uno de esos centros gastronómicos.

Para la población y los visitantes extranjeros es una opción que complementa a la red de restaurantes estatales que se mantiene funcionando en La Habana, tal como sucede en el resto del país.

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Russians Commence Petroleum Exploration off the Cuban Coast

Nick Miroff,  June 28, 2012;  from Globalpost.com

The Songa Mercur Drilling Platform

HAVANA, Cuba — For 30 years, generous oil subsidies from Moscow kept the lights on for Fidel Castro’s Cuban Revolution. Until the Soviet Union went kaput. Now, Russian state oil companies may be coming to Cuba’s rescue again.

Oil industry journals reported this week that a Soviet-built, Norwegian-owned drilling platform is headed for Cuban waters this summer, under contract with Moscow-based state company Zarubezhneft. The company has hired the rig, called the Songa Mercur, at a cost of $88 million for nearly a year, with plans to begin drilling in November. That should be enough time to poke plenty of holes in search of Cuba’s elusive undersea oil fields, which are thought to hold billions of barrels of crude but have yet to yield a decent strike.

The rig’s arrival couldn’t come at a better time for the Castro government and its state oil company, CubaPetroleo. The state firm has signed multiple contracts in recent years with foreign producers looking to drill in Cuban waters.

Another drilling platform, the Scarabeo 9, has been working off the island’s north coast this year, but has come up dry, dealing a blow to Havana’s hopes for weaning the island off imported crude.

Cuba currently gets about two-thirds of its fuel from socialist ally Hugo Chavez. But the Venezuelan president has been battling cancer and must campaign for re-election in October.

The Scarabeo 9 has been Cuba’s best hope. The Chinese-built, Italian-owned rig arrived late last year, opening a gusher of anxieties in the US. Environmental groups and Florida tourism operators worried about damage from a potential spill. Anti-Castro lawmakers worried an oil strike would give the Cuban government a cash windfall. Repsol, the Spanish oil company that first hired the rig, was the subject of hearings on Capitol Hill, and the Obama administration made the unusual move of sending an inspection team to visit the platform when it stopped in Trinidad en route to Cuban waters. But the state-of-the-art Scarabeo 9 was made for the Cuba job — literally. It is the only rig in the world designed specifically to comply with US trade sanctions against Cuba, which limit the amount of US technology that can be used in Cuban territory to no more than 10 percent.

So far the rig has come up empty in Cubans waters. Having spent more than $100 million for a dry well and a political headache, Repsol executives have announced they’re pulling out of Cuba.

Scarabeo 9 is now in the hands of Russia’s Gazprom Neft, which is drilling in Cuban waters at another offshore location in partnership with Malaysia’s Petronas. Results may be announced as soon as next month.

The Songa Mercur will be working much closer to shore. Built in 1989 at the Soviet Union’s Vybord Shipyards, its maximum drilling depth is just 1,200 feet of water, according to the rig’s specifications.

Jorge Piñon, an expert on Cuban oil exploration at the University of Texas, said the Songa Mercur was retrofitted and modernized in 2006 in Galveston, Texas, after it was purchased from a Mexican firm by Norway’s Songa Offshore SE. It’s currently working in Malaysia.

Unlike the Scarabeo 9, the Songa Mercur is loaded with US technology, including five Caterpillar generators, General Electric mud pump motors, and cementing equipment made by Halliburton. That will likely leave Russian operator Zarubezhneft in violation of the US’ Cuba sanctions, Piñon said.

Not that there’s much the US government can do about it. “This is a Russian state oil company, and they do not have US assets or interests to safeguard,” said Piñon, a former British Petroleum executive. “Do you think that Zarubezhneft is going to invite the US Coast Guard and the Interior Department to board (the Songa Mercur)?” he said. “How then is [the US] going to validate whether the Songa Mercur meets the embargo regulations?” The area where the platform will be drilling is off the coast of Cuba’s Ciego de Avila and Villa Clara provinces, and adjacent to an area that the Bahamas Petroleum Corporation is also looking to develop, Piñon added.

That location should present less of a threat to US beaches in the event of a spill, according to Lee Hunt, former president of the Houston-based International Association of Drilling Contractors. Shallow water does not eliminate the risk, Hunt said, but ocean currents in that area would likely keep floating crude away from US shores. “What has not changed is the need for blowout prevention,” said Hunt, who advocates closer cooperation between the US and Cuba on oil spill prevention. “The best and safest practices, and preparation for spill capping, capture, containment and cleanup remain risk factors for Cuba and the United States.”

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My Skepticism Runs High, but Maybe I am Wrong! Some Articles on the Moringa Oleifera.

By Arch Ritter

Fidel’s latest enthusiasm for the Moringa and the Mulberry arouses my disbelief, mainly because we have been through this movie too many times already. [See the previous blog entry: Still More “Good Advice” from Fidel!] The following articles from the Cuban press do not assuage my skepticism, the first four and the sixth having been written after Fidel’s great insights, making me think that Cuban journalistic sycophancy lives.

Could I be wrong? Sure. But the Moringa has been around for a while and has not turned out to be quite the miracle crop Fidel makes it out to be anywhere else. This makes me think that Fidel’s enthusiasms may have gotten out of hand one more time.

Here are some articles on the Moringa from the Cuban press for anyone that may be interested, courtesy of Ana Julia Faya:

1. Periodico Adelante, de Camaguey, junio 26, 2012, “Plantadas en Camaguey más de 200 hectáreas de Moringa”, http://www.adelante.cu/index.php/noticias/de-camagueey/1702-plantadas-en-camagueey-mas-de-200-hectareas-de-moringa-oleifera.html

And Cubadebate: http://www.cubadebate.cu/noticias/2012/06/26/sembradas-en-camaguey-mas-de-200-hectareas-de-moringa-oleifera/

2. Radio Maboas, de Amancio, junio 21 de 2012. “Agricultores amancieros apuestan por los beneficios de la Moringa Oleifera”, http://www.radiomaboas.cu/index.php/las-tunas/7-noticias/amancio/1387-los-agricultores-amancieros-apuestan-por-los-beneficios-de-la-moringa-oleifera

3. Periódico Escambray, Sancti Spiritus, 21 de junio de 2012, “La moringa: reseña de un árbol maravilloso,http://www.escambray.cu/2012/la-moringa-resena-de-un-arbol-maravilloso/

4. Periódico Victoria de Isla de Pinos, 20 de junio de 2012, “De la Moringa, todo“,  http://www.periodicovictoria.cu/index.php/isla-de-la-juventud/medio-ambiente/de-la-moringa-todo

5. Periódico Trabajadores, mayo 3 de 2012 (before Fidel Castro’s note on the moringa) “Sin temor a la sequía”http://www.trabajadores.cu/news/20120503/259364-sin-temor-la-sequia

6. Granma, 26 de junio de 2012: “La Moringa’”  http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2012/06/26/nacional/artic03.html

Here is Wikipedia’s discussion of the Moringa: Moringa oleifera, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Wikipedia article emphasizes the possible role of the Moringa for purposes of Malnutrition relief. One hopes hat this is not the property of the Moringa that Fidel is expecting will be useful in the Cuban context. Here is a Wikipedia quotation:

Moringa trees have been used to combat malnutrition, especially among infants and nursing mothers. Four NGOs in particular have advocated moringa as “natural nutrition for the tropics.” One author stated that “the nutritional properties of Moringa are now so well known that there seems to be little doubt of the substantial health benefit to be realized by consumption of Moringa leaf powder in situations where starvation is imminent.”  Moringa is especially promising as a food source in the tropics because the tree is in full leaf at the end of the dry season when other foods are typically scarce

As for the other wonder-plant, the Mulberry, the most famous Mulberry was the portable  artificial harbor constructed on the Normandy beaches for the WWII D-Day liberation of Europe, as pictured below.

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Still More “Good Advice” from Fidel!

By Arch Ritter

Fidel visits a collective farm. The manager of the farm says: “Fidel, all our chickens are dying and we don’t know what to do.”

Fidel replies: “The chickens are suffering from a salt deficiency. Feed them more salt.”

The workers on the  farm then feed the chickens more salt. A year later, Fidel happens to visit the chicken collective again. The manager says “Fidel, almost all our chickens have died. What should we do?”

Fidel pulls on his beard, thinks hard, and says sagaciously: “Your chickens are suffering from a deficiency of pepper. Feed them some pepper.”

The chickens are then fed pepper. The following year, Fidel again passes through the farm. The manager says: “Fidel, all our chickens have died. We are lost.”

Fidel says: “What a pity. And I still have so many more good ideas.”

[This story came to me originally with a Rabbi in the place of Fidel.]

Cuba’s economic history is in part a history of his “Good Ideas”, imposed on Cuba, with the support and adulation of acolytes, devotees and yes-men and with the suppression of criticism. Think of Instant Industrialization (1961-1963), the “Revolutionary Offensive (1968), the 10 million tons sugar harvest goal, the “New Man”, the Havana Green Belt project and shutting down half the sugar mills (2002).

Fidel now has yet another “Good Idea” reproduced below in his new reader-friendly format, namely a haiku-length quasi-twitter statement. Perhaps he learned from Yoani Sanchez that “brevity is the soul of wit” and also beats three-hour verbosity.

Reflections of Fidel
Nutrition and healthful employment
(Taken from CubaDebate)

“THE conditions have been created for the country to begin massively producing Moringa Oleífera and mulberry, which are sustainable resources [for the production of] meat, eggs, milk and silk fiber which can be woven by artisans, providing well-remunerated employment as an added benefit, regardless of age or gender.”

Fidel Castro Ruz
June 17, 2012
2:55 p.m. •

(See Reflections  of Fidel)

This looks like déjà vu all over again with Fidel proposing a new massive scheme. Thankfully the former President is totally out of the economic picture. If he were still the Big Boss in charge of the central planning system, we could expect some billions would be invested in another untested hare-brained scheme. I still remember Fidel’s adulatory descriptions of “Black Velvet,” the Canadian breeding bull, which was supposed to revolutionize Cuba’s milk cow herds and lead to unlimited supplies of milk, butter etc. Now the new agricultural miracle is Moringa Oleífera and mulberry!

In contrast, President Raul, the pragmatist, might order a study for some four years before deciding whether or not to run a pilot project. Or, more likely now, perhaps an independent farmer might give it a try and if it works, others will adopt it and then in time still others– which is how innovation occurs in a decentralized market economy.

Moringa Oleífera

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