Tag Archives: Sixth Party Congress

Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba: Will Raul Forge His Own Legacy?

The Sixth Congress of the Cuba’s Communist Party, meeting from April 16 to 19, may be a turning point for Cuba. It may also be the beginning of President Raul Castro’s attempt to forge his own “legacy” and to emerge from the long shadow of his brother. In order to succeed, the reformist thrust of the Congress must be ambitious and courageous, moving Cuba away from the defunct economic and political approaches copied from Soviet orthodoxy in the 1960s.

How likely is Raul to succeed?

There seems to be no chance that Raul will abandon Cuba’s Soviet-style political institutions and Communist Party monopoly. While Cuba is a signatory to Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Labour Organization’s Conventions, there is virtually no possibility that Raul will use the opportunity of the Congress to honor fully Cuba’s commitments to the human, political, civil and labor rights enshrined in these covenants.

But economic reform in a “market friendly” direction is probable.  In various speeches since 2006, Raul has indicated that he recognizes the problems that Cuba confronts in terms of the production of agricultural and industrial goods and improvement of Cuba’s infrastructure. He is well aware of the unbalanced structure of the economy, the monetary and exchange rate pathologies and the dysfunctional incentive environment. He has approached the problems systematically and deliberatively – though perhaps somewhat leisurely.

Raul’s new approach is embodied in the “Draft Guide for Economic and Social Reform” published in November 2010. This constitutes an ambitions and comprehensive “wish-list” or statement of aspirations designed principally for popular discussion. It represents a strong commitment to reform. While there are internal inconsistencies and opaque elements among the 291 recommendations, there are deep-cutting proposals on many aspects of economic organization and policy. However, there were no priorities indicated among the recommendations. There was no suggestion of the sequencing of policies. There was no apparent coordination among the proposals.

In order to forge a viable reformist strategy from this wish-list, a new document is required. This indeed has probably been prepared for approval at the Congress. This document may include a clearer statement of specific objectives. It also would need to prioritize policies and include some sequencing of actions and generally to provide some “focus” to what is in effect a check list of good intentions.

In such a reform process many things would be changing simultaneously with symbiotic impacts and consequences that will likely be painful and are difficult to foresee. Will Raul have the courage to take the risks inherent in an ambitious process of economic change? This was not apparent in view of his earlier “go-slow” approach prior to the Congress.

There undoubtedly is opposition, of indeterminate strength, to the prospective reform process. Former Minister Jos Luis Rodriguez, for example asserted that

“…essentially, the model could be sustained; the proof is that the economy continued growing since 1994. ….the fact is that there was not a recession despite all the problems”

If the model was not in crisis, ambitious and deep-cutting reforms obviously would be unnecessary and perhaps foolish.

However, while the “Fidelistas” will run interference, the reform process is likely sustainable. There are a variety of reasons for this conclusion:

  • Cuba’s economic problems must be dealt with;
  • As the micro-manager of the economy for some 45 years, Fidel himself is discredited:
  • All of the “Fidel Models” are discredited by current realities, by the “Draft Guide,,,”; by Raul’s statements and speeches and by the publicity regarding the need for a reform;
  • The “Fidelistas” appear to be on the wane;
  • Generational change is under way;
  • The climate of opinion seems to have changed and large numbers of Cuban citizens appear to be ready for reform – despite the risks that are already apparent;
  • Heightened popular expectations for change will be increasingly difficult to contain.

Moreover, the Fidelista Ministers have been replaced by President Raul Castro and he has moved his military colleagues into management positions throughout the economy – though this also is problematic.

Finally, at this stage of his life Raul is probably thinking about his “legacy” and his place in history. It is unlikely that he wants to be judged as the minor appendage of his older brother. He seems to want his own “economic model.”  Perhaps he recognizes that while “History will (not) absolve” Fidel, perhaps it might absolve him. If he were to introduce major political reforms he would earn a very significant place in “History.” However, introducing deep-cutting economic reform is a start.

The Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba is indeed Raul’s main chance.

Primer Congreso del Partido Comunista de Cuba

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Cuban Public Opinion Survey, 2011, International Republican Institute

The International Republican Institute has just published the results of a public opinion survey taken in Cuba, the fifth such survey since 2007. A series of questions were asked concerning general perspectives on Cuba, attitudes towards political and economic change, and access to information technology. Some of the same questions have been asked since 2007 providing some interesting comparisons over time.

The complete survey is located here: Cuban Public Opinion Survey, 2011, Int’n’l Republican Institute

The survey methodology was as follows

  • Dates of Interviewing: The fieldwork was conducted Jan, 28 – Feb. 10, 2011.
  • Data Collection Method: Stratified-intercept methodology based on personal, face-to-face interviews in Cuba.
  • Sample Size: 463 Cuban adults (age 18 and older).
  • Sample: Interviews were conducted in twelve (12) Cuban provinces
  • The sample was stratified by province, then by sub-units within each province. Interviewees were allocated by gender and age quotas. The final selection of each interviewee was random.
  • Respondents: The sample selection for province, gender and age are based on the last available Cuban census data, released in 2002.
  • Maximum Sample Margin of Error: Margin of error of ± five percent for a 95 percent level of confidence.

There are a number of interesting results of the survey. Here are a couple.

1. What do you think is the biggest problem in Cuba?   60.7% said that Low Salaries / High Cost of Living were the most serious, up from 40% in 2009,  while 12.7% said that food scarcity was the most serious. 1% of the respondents stated that the Lack of Freedoms / Political System was the most serious. This suggests that Raul Castro’s priority on the economy is not misplaced.

2.      If you were given the opportunity to vote to change from the current economic system to a market economy system – with economic freedoms, including opportunities for Cubans to own property and run businesses – would you vote in favor of, or against, that change?  90.7 of the respondents were in favor. The prospective pro-market reforms of the Sixth Congress would appear to be in line with public opinion.

3.      Do you believe the current government will succeed in solving Cuba’s biggest problem in the next few years?     77% say no, a higher proportion than in any IRI survey since 2007.

4.      If you were given the opportunity to vote to change from the current political system to a democratic system – with multi-party elections, freedom of speech and freedom of expression – would you vote in favor of, or against, that change? 78.2% were in favor.

5.      Do you regularly use a cellular phone?  25.3% said yes, up from 10% in 2007.

Presumably the Government of Cuba conducts similar studies but with differently worded questions that produce results somewhat more congenial to the status quo.

But the results of the IRI surveys certainly must be of deep concern to the Government and the Party.

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Chronology: Raul Castro’s Road to Reform in Cuba April 13, 2011

By Marc Frank, Reuters, April 13, 2011

External Link: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/13/us-cuba-reform-chronology

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba’s pace of economic reform is expected to pick up after a congress of its ruling Communist Party that begins this weekend and whose main agenda item is “modernizing” the socialist economy.

Reforms up for discussion include: decentralization of government decision-making and revenue flows; giving more autonomy to state-run companies; slashing state payrolls and subsidies and reducing the state’s role in agriculture and retail in favor of a growing “non-state sector”.

The congress crowns President Raul Castro’s efforts to build a consensus for major changes in how the Caribbean country runs its economy and how its people live.

Since he took over day-to-day rule from his ailing older brother Fidel Castro in 2006, Raul Castro signaled that one of the world’s last Soviet-style economies was due for overhaul. But he has ruled out any switch to Western-style capitalism.

What follows is a chronology of Castro’s most important reform measures and statements:


July – In his first major speech, Raul Castro calls the state milk collection and distribution system “absurd” and says farmers will deliver directly to local consumers where possible.

“To have more, we have to begin by producing more, with a sense of rationality and efficiency,” he said.

August – Castro signs a law ordering all state companies to adopt a system of “perfecting” management. This was developed by the military when Castro was defense minister to improve performance using capitalist-style management techniques.


February – In his formal inaugural address as the new Cuban president, Castro says: “We must make efforts to find the ways and means to remove any deterrent to productive forces. In many respects, local initiative can be effective and viable”.

March – Computers, cell phones, DVD players and electric appliances go on sale for the public and bans on Cubans renting cars and staying in tourism hotels are lifted.

A sweeping reform of agriculture begins. This includes decentralization of decision-making, increases in state prices paid to farmers, leasing of fallow state land and loosening of regulations on farmers selling directly to consumers.

August – A significant labor reform ties wages to individual productivity, and caps on earnings are eliminated.

Government announces domestic freight transport and housing construction will be decentralized to the municipal level.


March – Castro purges his brother’s economic cabinet and places trusted military men and reform-minded technocrats in key economy and planning posts. The central bank head Francisco Soberon quits two months later and is replaced.

April – The new cabinet slashes the budget and imports. Plans are unveiled to develop suburban farming around most cities and towns, using mainly private plots.

July – Castro is quoted as stating “ideas chart the course, the reality of figures is decisive,” an unusual statement in a nation where ideology and politics trump economics.

August – National Assembly establishes office of the Comptroller General of the Republic. Castro says it will aim to improve “economic discipline” and crack down on corruption.

He calls for “elimination of free services and improper subsidies — with the exception of those called for in the constitution (healthcare, education and social security).”

Santiago mountain dwellers are allowed to sell fruits and produce at roadside kiosks. Spreads to adjoining provinces.

September – Licenses are issued to food vendors in various cities, making them legal.

October – Granma announces state work place lunchrooms will close in exchange for a daily stipend.

December – Economy Minister Marino Murillo tells parliament: “We have begun experiments … to ease the burden on the state of some services it provides.”


January – Municipal governments are ordered to draw up economic development plans that may include cooperatives and small business. A pilot project where taxi drivers lease cabs instead of receiving a state wage begins in Havana.

April – Barbershops and beauty salons with up to three chairs go over to a leasing system. Rules for home construction and improvements are liberalized.

June – Sale of construction materials to the population is liberalized. The government authorizes farm cooperatives to establish mini-industries to process produce.

August – New rules authorize Cubans with small garden plots and small farmers to sell produce directly to consumers.

The state increases from 50 to 99 years the time foreign companies can lease land as part of tourism and leisure development projects, such as golf courses and marinas.

Stores open where farmers can purchase supplies in local currency without regulation.

September – The government announces the lay-off of more than 500,000 state workers and 250,000 new licenses for family businesses over six months. Some 200,000 of the state jobs will go over to leasing, cooperatives and other arrangements. Unemployment benefits are cut.

Self-employment regulations are loosened and taxes tightened. Family businesses are authorized for the first time to hire labor, do business with the state and rent space.

December – Castro gives most explicit reform speech yet urging change of “erroneous and unsustainable concepts about socialism that have been deeply rooted in broad sectors of the population over the years, as a result of the excessively paternalistic, idealistic and egalitarian approach instituted by the Revolution in the interest of social justice.”


January – State banks begin issuing microcredits to would-be farmers who have leased land.

March – Castro announces the original timetable to lay-off 500,000 state workers by April has been scrapped and there is no fixed date to complete the process as workers resist losing their jobs and balk at the high cost of proposed leasing arrangements. Castro creates new post to oversee economic reform and promotes Economy Minister Murillo to the job.

April – Authorities announce 120,000 people have leased land since 2008 and 180,000 people have taken out licenses to work for themselves and rent space to new entrepreneurs since October. State banks are authorized to issue microcredits to new entrepreneurs and state bodies to do business with them.

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Cuba’s Economic Agenda and Prospects: An Optimistic View!

By Arch Ritter

Published originally in FOCALPoint, April 2011, Volume 10, N0. 3.

The Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, taking place April 16-19, 2011, will focus on a comprehensive range of economic reforms, labelled an “updating” of its model, but ostensibly not a movement away from Cuban socialism. This reflects the depth of Cuba’s economic problems as well as the unwillingness of the regime to tolerate discussion of political reform, which is not on the agenda.

The Cuban economy faces severe difficulties, despite purportedly high GDP growth figures. The real state of the economy can be summarized as follows. There has been minimal recovery from the near 80 per cent collapse in the population’s real income levels since 1989. De-industrialization brought 2010 industrial output to 51 per cent of its 1989 level. Sugar production has declined catastrophically, from roughly seven million tonnes in the 1980s to approximately 1.3 million tonnes per year at present. Reduced production of foodstuffs has resulted in major increases in food imports. Investment has been insufficient, at 8.5 per cent of GDP (compared with 21.9 per cent for Latin America in 2008). There are high levels of under-employment in the state sector —an estimated 1.2 to 1.8 million workers, or 20 to 35 per cent of the labour force— compared to the official unemployment rate of 1.6 per cent. These factors are combined with a half-century of monetary pathology, 20 years of the dual exchange rate and monetary systems, and heavy reliance on special trade arrangements of dubious sustainability with Venezuela.

President Raúl Castro has spoken forcefully on the need for economic reform (in contrast with the complacency of his brother Fidel), stating in April 2010:

“We face unpleasant realities, but we are not closing our eyes to them. We are convinced that we must break dogmas, and we undertake with strength and confidence the modernization, already underway, of our economic model.”

The character of socialism has also been redefined under Raúl’s regime as spelled out in the Draft Guidelines for Economic and Social Policy, a document released in November 2010 as part of the lead-up to the Congress: “In the economic policy that is proposed, socialism is equality of rights and opportunities for the citizens, not egalitarianism.” This may be of game-changing significance, suggesting that Cuba is moving toward “social democratic” orthodoxy.

When Raúl succeeded his brother in 2006, there were heightened expectations that he would introduce reforms, given his reputation for pragmatism. However, few significant changes were introduced in his first four years, with the exception of postponement of the retirement age and the granting of 10-year leases on unused state-owned farmlands to private farmers.

In October 2010, Raúl introduced a program to downsize the state sector that would lay off 500,000 redundant workers by March 31, 2011, and ultimately, 1.8 million workers in total by 2015. These workers were to be absorbed in an invigorated small-enterprise and co-operative sector. In order to encourage small enterprise, the licensing process, regulatory system and tax regime were liberalized. These measures were headed in the right direction, but were too modest to stimulate the required expansion of self-employment. By January 2011, some 83,400 new self-employment licenses had been granted —far below the 500,000 target for March 31. Because of this, the implementation of the state sector downsizing was decelerated and indeed appears to be on hold until after the April Congress. Few if any workers have actually been laid off, although some have been told that they are to be let go, prompting informational and procedural discussions in many workplaces.

The Draft Guidelines for Economic and Social Policy document was issued by the government to serve as the basis for public discussion of the reforms and prepare a more definitive strategy to be approved at the Congress. These Guidelines include 291 recommendations for changes in every area of economic and social policy. It is a statement of aspirations, with no indication of policy priorities, sequences or co-ordination. The reforms are to be within the framework of the socialist planning system.

There are a variety of views among analysts regarding the possible outcome of the Congress. Some expect no meaningful policy changes. But others —including some dissident economists and mainstream analysts alike— are optimistic and expect reforms. Indeed, the climate of opinion within Cuba decisively favours reform.

Can Raúl’s administration forge a workable strategy from the Guidelines’ wish list? Given the deliberative and systematic way in which Raúl has proceeded so far, this appears probable. A process of economic —but not political— reform will most likely begin after the Congress. Where it will lead is hard to predict. Presumably Raúl’s regime would like the process to end with a new balance between public and private sectors, with a controlled movement toward the market mechanism in price determination and the shaping of economic structures, and with the construction of a rational configuration of incentives shaping citizens’ daily economic actions so that their private endeavours become compatible with Cuba’s broader economic well-being. This, however, remains to be seen.

Third Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, Bohemia, 8 April 2011.

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Ana Julia Faya: “The Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba: Walking a Fine Line”

Cuba’s leaders are currently facing a serious internal crisis.

The Sixth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) will take place in Havana April 16-19, 2011, during which an ambiguous process of economic reform that the governing elite calls “updating the system” will be sanctioned. Reluctant to admit that they are undertaking reforms, Cuba’s leaders face a serious internal crisis; meanwhile they continue to express loyalty to socialism and rely on a fledgling and confined private sector to save the national economy.

In December 2010, Raúl Castro, the president of Cuba and second secretary of the PCC, said that the island now finds itself at the edge of an abyss, and analysts across the political spectrum agree. The regime is facing serious financial and credibility crises.

On the one hand, Cuba is having difficulty fulfilling its financial promises: the country does not receive credit from international institutions; oil reserve prospects have not materialized; and aid from Venezuela seems to have bottomed out.

On the other hand, the sources of the government’s legitimacy are dissolving quickly among a population that is struggling to survive in the midst of basic shortages and shrinking state subsidies. The struggle against the U.S. embargo has become a tough sell as an instrument for internal cohesion since the Cuban government itself has publicly admitted that a good part of the island’s economic problems is due to inefficiency and bad policy decisions rather than the embargo. Services such as education and public health, which have historically been presented as achievements of the system, can no longer receive the same level of subsidies that they did in past years and are now subject to scrutiny by a population enduring their gradual deterioration.

Given this situation, the Cuban government faces the dilemma of making changes it has qualified as “pressing,” such as decentralizing the state, to ensure the system’s survival. However, such changes could jeopardize the totalitarian model that has existed until now and, ultimately, support for the elite in power. It is within the context of this dilemma that after 13 years of postponement, the Congress, which according to the statutes of the PCC “decides on all of the most important policy issues,” will meet to focus the discussion on the meager Draft Guidelines for Economic and Social Policy.

The Guidelines seek to perfect a dysfunctional model while walking a fine line: the document introduces a private sector that will have to absorb more than one million unemployed workers from the public sector (excluding coercive and security agencies, which have grown), yet warns that concentrating capital in private hands will not be permitted. This ambiguity has generated criticism from all sides. Some militant orthodox communists have expressed their dissatisfaction with the reforms and have labelled them “state monopoly capitalism”; reformists within the system and others from the opposition describe the guidelines as “cosmetic” because they do not include an actual restructuring of the current regime and as “lacking a real base,” as there are no resources or financing to allow the private sector to expand.

What is certain is that Cubans have expressed their opinions both in the assemblies convened by the PCC to discuss the Guidelines and on the Web, and on March 1 Raúl announced that the beginning of the layoffs would be postponed. Perhaps the government took into consideration one of the most reiterated arguments offered by specialists: Wait until the private sector consolidates before proceeding with dismissals. Perhaps the government also decided to show caution given the explosive social climate created by the layoff announcements and cuts to social benefits —such as the closing of workers’ canteens and the gradual disappearance of the rations book— in addition to the international context of protests against long-lived dictatorships. Raúl has announced that due to the “complexity” involved in “updating the system,” it will take at least five years to implement the new model completely. We will have to wait until the Congress meets for a clearer outline of these plans, which are currently vague and shifting.

It also remains to be seen if Congress will take into consideration proposals by specialists on Cuba that include: abandoning the planning model; abolishing the 10-year limit for leasing new plots of land; creating legal support to protect the new private sector; legalizing the buying and selling of homes and vehicles; adding flexibility to the onerous tax system for the self-employed; and creating industrial and service co-operatives from state-run companies.

Despite the fact that Raúl has asked the leadership for a “change in mentality,” what has been left out of discussions is the role that the Cuban diaspora should play in the reform process given its support for the new private sector through remittances, of which the government has made a utilitarian use. The Congress will also exclude topics such as ending repression, arbitrary arrests and “repudiation meetings” against peaceful opposition; it will disregard important political and civil issues, such as abolishing permits for Cubans entering and leaving the country or ceasing control of communications and the Internet; and it will not discuss freedom of association. Yet, these issues constitute the basis for reaching sustainable economic development in any society.

According to Raúl, this Congress will be the last one held by the “historic administration.” It will have to approve the new Central Committee and make appointments to the positions of first and second secretaries of the PCC, currently held by the official leaders, Fidel and Raúl Castro.

To date, everything indicates that the decisions of the Sixth Congress will prolong the status quo by adopting ambiguous reforms under strong controls. But the consequences of introducing these reforms are difficult to predict; in politics, when one walks a fine line any of the tendencies in play can prevail. Clearly, Cuba’s economy will change as Cuban society already has. The elite in power should change, too. After 52 years, it is about time.

Ana J. Faya is an independent consultant and policy analyst.

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New Publication: Oscar Chepe, Cambios en Cuba: Pocos, Limitados y Tardíos

Oscar Chepe’s recent  work on Cuba’s economic situation and the reform process has just been published and is available on the web site: Reconciliación Cubana, or here: Oscar Chepe, Cambios Cuba: Pocos, Limitados y Tardíos

Oscar continues to be a courageous and  outspoken analyst of Cuba’s economic policies. In this past, this earned for him a period of forced labor in the 1960s and incarceration in March 2003 along with 75 others. Despite this, he continues to express his views openly and honestly. Although his voice is heard easily outside his own country, within Cuba, his views unfortunately are blocked rather effectively by state control of the publications media, the electronic media and by the continuous violation of the right to freedom of assembly.

Below is a Table of Contents followed by an Executive Summary by Rolando Castaneda.

Table of Contents:

Prologo por Carmelo Mesa Lago 1
Resume Ejecutivo por Rolando Castañeda 6
I. Introducción 11
II. Pequeñas y medianas empresas 14
III. Actualización del modelo económico cubano 16
IV. Problemas de orden externo e interno 19
V. La empresa estatal socialista 22
VI. Mercados mayoristas, precios 24
VII. Cooperativas 27
VIII. Política fiscal 29
IX. Políticas macroeconómicas 31
X. Política monetaria 34
XI. Política económica externa 37
XII. Inversión extranjera 40
XIII. Política inversionista 43
XIV. Ciencia, tecnología e innovación 45
XV. Política social 47
XVI. Salud 51
XVII. Deporte 54
XVIII. Cultura 56
XIX. Seguridad social 59
XX. Empleo y salarios 61
XXI. Política agroindustrial 64
XXII. Política industrial y energética 68
XXIII. Política energética 71
XXIV. Turismo 74
XXV. Política de transporte 77
XXVI. Construcciones, las viviendas y los recursos hidráulicos 79
XXVII. Comercio 82
XXVIII. Conclusiones 84
A 20 años de Primer Informe de Desarrollo Humano de ONU 87
Cuba Bordeando el Precipicio 90
La Economía Cubana en 2010 93
Cuba: Un Principio Espeluznante 100

Oscar Chepe and Miriam Leiva, February 2010. Photo by Arch Ritter

Resumen Ejecutivo, por Rolando Castañeda

Planteamiento general
Los instrumentos aprobados por el gobierno para la implementación del trabajo por cuenta propia, el proceso de la reducción de las plantillas infladas, el recorte de los gastos sociales y el Proyecto de Lineamientos de la Política Económica y Social, revelan pocos, parciales e insuficientes cambios, que no solucionarán la crisis socioeconómica existente.
El gobierno sólo actualiza (“le pone parches”) a las fuentes principales de los problemas actuales: el sistema socioeconómico, que no ha funcionado, es irreparable y está mal gestionado, así como el régimen político totalitario carente de libertades civiles fundamentales. Ellos han llevado al desastre, la dependencia externa e impiden la sustentabilidad económica.
La baja eficiencia, la descapitalización de la base productiva y de la infraestructura, el envejecimiento y estancamiento en el crecimiento poblacional, entre otros muchos males, son consecuencias de ese modelo.
El gobierno elude medidas indispensables mientras propone unas pocas medidas insuficientes, llenas de limitaciones y prohibiciones. También reitera sin corregir apropiadamente medidas anteriores que han sido implementadas con muchas limitaciones y sin tener una concepción integral de la economía, tales como: la entrega de tierras en usufructo, el pago por resultado a los trabajadores y los recortes fiscales.
Los Lineamientos definen que primará la planificación y no el mercado, o sea continuará la burocratización de la sociedad, bajo rígidas normas centralizadoras, que imposibilitan la flexibilidad requerida por la actividad económica y la vida en general de la nación. No se reconoce la propiedad privada y se subraya la política de no permitir el crecimiento de la actividad individual.
La seria contradicción de una política con ribetes neoliberales de drásticos recortes, sin que se brinde a los ciudadanos posibilidades reales de ganarse el sustento decentemente, e incluso aportar de forma racional a los gastos del Estado, podría determinar convulsiones sociales, en un ambiente ya permeado por la desilusión y la falta de esperanza.

El despido de trabajadores y el trabajo por cuenta propia
El vital proceso de racionalización laboral, con el despido hasta abril de 2011 de 500.000 trabajadores considerados innecesarios, el 10% de la fuerza de trabajo ocupada, para continuar haciéndolo posteriormente con otros 800.000, que fue postergado por tantos años, ahora se pretende realizar de forma muy rápida. No se ha contado con la preparación apropiada ni la organización para que tenga éxito en un plazo tan breve y se pueda reubicar una cantidad tan grande de despedidos. Ni siquiera se han modificado los artículos de la Constitución Política (i.e. el 21 y el 45) que se contraponen a lo propuesto.
Al desestimulo por los bajos salarios, la carencia de información técnica, el vacío de reconocimiento social y las generalizadas malas condiciones laborables, a las nuevas generaciones de estudiantes se une ahora la incertidumbre de hallar empleo futuro por el despido masivo de trabajadores.
El trabajo por cuenta propia en sólo 178 actividades permitidas que deberá absorber el despedido masivo de trabajadores, enfrenta graves limitaciones, más severas que las existentes para las empresas estatales y las mixtas con capital extranjero. Incluyen los impuestos por seguridad social del 25% que el trabajador por cuenta propia deberá contribuir, así como los trabajadores que se contraten con base en un salario fijado por el gobierno, a un nivel 50% mayor que el salario medio prevaleciente. También están los elevados impuestos sobre los ingresos personales que pueden llegar hasta el 50% cuando excedan de $50,000 anuales, y las restricciones a los gastos de operación que se permiten deducir de los ingresos brutos para fines tributarios, en algunos oficios de sólo hasta el 10% de los ingresos anuales.
A ello hay que añadir algunas prohibiciones arbitrarias, tal como las sobre el número de sillas de los restaurantes (20) y las barberías (3), así como la ausencia de un mercado mayorista de abastecimiento de insumos. Hasta tanto ese mercado no aparezca, continuará desarrollándose la ilegalidad y, sobre todo, el robo de los recursos estatales, estimulado por el extendido descontrol existente y el miserable salario de los trabajadores. ‘
De esta forma el Estado reduce la actividad individual a iniciativas arbolitos bonsái e impide el crecimiento del trabajo por cuenta propia y el surgimiento de pequeñas y medianas empresa. Un mecanismo configurado para mantener el estrecho control del Estado-Partido sobre la sociedad, temeroso de que el fortalecimiento y desarrollo de la actividad privada pueda convertirse posteriormente en un peligro.

Aspectos generales y macroeconómicos

La mayoría de los Lineamientos sobre aspectos generales, macroeconómicos y sectoriales son enunciativos, generalidades que soslayan la grave situación con la continuada acumulación de graves problemas y sin proponer soluciones reales para los mismos. Desafortunadamente, los cambios requeridos no se avizoran. Este conjunto de 28 artículos se refiere a estos temas y por qué considera que su tratamiento es insuficiente para una sociedad estatizada, llena de distorsiones y carente de racionalidad económica
El problema de la descapitalización física es sumamente serio. Desde inicios de los años 1990 se mantienen tasas de formación bruta de capital fijo en relación con el PIB usualmente inferiores al 10%, menores a las tasas de amortización de los medios de producción y la infraestructura, aceleradas por la falta de reposición, actualización tecnológica y mantenimiento adecuado.
Desprovisto el país de la “ayuda” a inicios de 1990, empezó el deterioro paulatino de la salud pública, la educación, la seguridad social, el deporte y la cultura, con una incidencia muy negativa en los salarios, que como indicara el presidente Raúl Castro el 26 de julio de 2007 son insuficientes para vivir. La permanencia de los esquemas sociales con oportunidades de acceso para todos está en peligro debido a la falta de sustentación económica.
Resulta indispensable introducir tasas de cambio reales. Las tasas actuales, recargadas por gravámenes absurdos, que pueden conducir a análisis distorsionados y por consecuencia a decisiones equivocadas. En especial respecto a la política de inversiones, el comercio exterior y otros aspectos vitales para el desarrollo nacional. Una moneda sobredimensionada representa un serio obstáculo para el crecimiento de la llegada de turistas, al reducir arbitrariamente la competitividad del mercado cubano.
Cuba paga intereses bancarios muy altos a los prestamistas extranjeros; sin embargo, a los nacionales se les abonan intereses sumamente bajos, incluso por debajo de las tasas de inflación reales. Es necesario motivar a la población a depositar sus ahorros en los bancos, en especial aquellos en moneda convertible, dándosele las debidas garantías y el pago de intereses estimulantes y acordes con la situación financiera del país.
El gobierno no contempla la participación de la comunidad cubana en el exterior en la reconstrucción nacional. Un sector de nuestro pueblo que, con el otorgamiento de las garantías necesarias, podría ser fuente de importantes recursos financieros, tecnologías avanzadas, conocimiento y experiencia en la gestión de negocios y posibles nuevos mercados. Habría que adoptar una política pragmática e inteligente de acercamiento a nuestros hermanos en el extranjero, muy en especial hacia la comunidad afincada en EEUU, que además podría ser un puente para mejorar las relaciones con ese país, con enormes beneficios para nuestra economía.

Aspectos sectoriales
En los aspectos sectoriales de los Lineamientos se habla mucho acerca de ejecutar proyectos e inversiones, de potenciar capacidades de diseño y proyección, y fortalecer determinadas capacidades, pero no se define como hacerlo ni como financiarlo.

La esencia de los problemas nacionales, pueden hallarse en la destrucción de la agricultura que ha provocado una extraordinaria dependencia de alimentos importados, incluido azúcar, café y otros muchos que antes Cuba exportaba, mientras, los Lineamientos, reconocen que “ …las tierras todavía ociosas,.. constituyen el 50%…”. El sector está afectado por los precios fijados por el Estado unilateralmente por debajo del mercado, con frecuentes largas demoras en los pagos y las tradicionales deficiencias en la gestión de las empresas acopiadoras oficiales. Las tiendas abiertas para la venta de herramientas e insumos tampoco constituyen una solución, los precios son demasiado altos.
Las Cooperativas de Crédito y Servicios (CCS), donde los productores con muchas dificultades mantienen sus tierras individualmente, con sólo el 18% de la superficie agrícola total (cierre de 2007) han generado tradicionalmente más del 60% de la producción agrícola nacional, así como el más bajo por ciento de tierras ociosas, a pesar de la crónica falta de recursos, el permanente hostigamiento, las prohibiciones y la obligatoriedad de entregar las cosechas total o parcialmente al Estado en las condiciones y a los precios arbitrarios fijados por él.
En este escenario si se continúa con la mentalidad de ejercer estrictos controles sobre los posibles cooperativistas y negando la voluntariedad como concepto básico para la formación de las cooperativas, por muchos “buenos deseos” e indefinidos planteamientos que existan, el movimiento cooperativo no avanzará.
En la industria se refleja con mayor fuerza el proceso de descapitalización generalizado desde principios de la década de 1990. Por ello se requiere con urgencia su modernización y reequipamiento para poder detener la tendencia al actual atraso tecnológico, e incluso la paralización del sector. En 2009 se alcanzó una producción correspondiente al 45% de 1989, incluida la industria azucarera. Si se excluyera esta industria, el indicador sería del 51%. La producción nacional de materiales de construcción es muy baja, con un índice de volumen físico, al cierre de 2009, solo del 27% del nivel de 1989.
El gobierno cubano no publica los ingresos netos por concepto de turismo, por lo cual es difícil evaluar con precisión sus beneficios. Debido al pobre desarrollo de la economía cubana, se importa muchos productos consumidos por los visitantes. Esta actividad podría ser una de las locomotoras que impulse las demás ramas de la economía, pero para ello habría que realizar reformas estructurales, que reduzcan radicalmente la dependencia del exterior.

El aniquilamiento de los sueños de un futuro más justo y próspero para Cuba, podría detenerse si se propiciara un proceso de reconstrucción radical, con el abandono de los dogmas que tanto daño han hecho. Cuba posee significativas reservas productivas inexplotadas y un pueblo que debidamente estimulado, con libertad para crear, podría sacar a la nación de la crisis. Para ello resulta indispensable un nuevo modelo económico, político y social en el cual participarían en paridad de derechos y deberes las iniciativas públicas y privadas, estableciéndose un círculo virtuoso propiciador de desarrollo, que en la medida en que progresen ambas iniciativas se beneficie el país con mayores niveles de eficiencia, así como más y mejores productos, y el incremento del pago de impuestos que haga sostenible la financiación de la educación, salud pública, seguridad y asistencia social, y otros.

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English Version of Partido Comunista de Cuba, “Proyecto de Lineamientos de la Politica Economica y Social”: Viable Strategic Economic Re-Orientation and / or Wish List ?

A complete English translation of the “Lineamientos” has just been published by Walter Lippmann, the Editor-in-Chief of CubaNews , the free Yahoo news group on Cuba.

The “Draft Guide for Economic and Social Policy” for the Fifth Congress of the Communist Party is available here: http://www.walterlippmann.com/pcc-draft-economic-and-social-policy-guidelines-2010.html

What follows here is the Blog entry for November 11, 2010 on the “Guidelines”.

I. “Structural Adjustment” on a Major Scale

On Tuesday, November 9, a major document appeared for sale in Cuba entitled “Proyecto de Lineamientos de La Political Economica y Social” or “Draft Guide for Economic and Social Policy.”  The purpose of the “Guide’ presumably is to spark and to shape public discussion and education on the economic matters that will be the focus of the long-postponed Sixth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party to take place in April, 2011. It also provides the essentials of the new approach that will likely be adopted at the Sixth Congress.

It can be found in its entirety, courtesy of the Blog Caf Fuerte. (http://cafefuerte.com/, here: Projecto de Lineamientos de la Politica Economica y Social,

The “Guide” is a broad-reaching and comprehensive document that puts forward 291 propositions for the improvement of the functioning of the Cuban economy. It signals a break in the four years of near inaction that the Cuban economy endured since Raul Castro took over as acting and then actual President – and the ten years of paralysis from about 1995 to 2006 under President Fidel.  It amounts to a major process of “structural adjustment” of the sort that was begun in 1992-1994, but was then stalled when the Cuban economy appeared to rebound after 1994.  The document is also a contradiction and maybe a “slap-in-the-face” for Fidel Castro, as it indeed indicates that the Fidelista-style Cuban model – his life’s work – is not working. (See “Fidel’s No-Good Very Bad Day” and The “FIDEL” Models Never Worked; Soviet and Venezuelan Subsidization Did.)

II. General Character of the Proposals

The Table of Contents provides a quick idea of the scope of the document:


Contours of Economic and Social Policy

I           Economic Management Model

II          Macroeconomic Policies

III        External Economic Policies

IV        Investment Policy

V         Science, Technology and Innovation Policy

VI        Social Policy

VII       Agroindustrial Policy

VIII     Industrial and Energy Policy ix

IX        Tourism Policy

X           Transport Policy

XI         Construction, Housing, and Hydraulic Resource Policy

xii        Commercial Policy.

The Introduction summarizes the basic objectives required to overcome the principal problems of the economy. These include putting into productive use the unused lands constituting almost 50% of total, raising agricultural yields, developing new mechanisms to reverse the process of industrial and infrastructural de-capitalization, eliminating excess and redundant employment, raising labor productivity, recovery of export capacity in traditional exports, undertake studies in order to eliminate monetary dualism, and provide improved capacities for more decentralized regional development.

The “Contour” section then states that “…only socialism is capable of overcoming the difficulties and preserving the conquests of the Revolution, and the implementation of the economic model prioritizes planification and not the market”. However, the next paragraph states “…socialism is equality of rights and equality of opportunity for all citizens, not egalitarianism.” The latter sounds less like “socialism” and more like “social democrat” if not the common approach of most Western countries. The latter quotation makes the former somewhat hard to interpret if not meaningless.

The document then goes on to list the 291 propositions under the 12 different headings. A few of the more interesting propositions are summarized below:

  • Wholesale markets for supplying state, cooperative and self-employment enterprises will be established. (9)
  • State enterprises will decide themselves how to allocate their investment funds, and normally will not receive budgetary support for this. (13)
  • Insolvent enterprises will face liquidation. (16)
  • Workers incomes in state enterprises will be linked to enterprise performance (# 19)
  • Monetary and exchange rate unification will be “advanced” (54)
  • The taxation system will be advanced in terms of progressivity and coverage, and will be based on generality and equity of its structure. (56 and 57)
  • The centralized character of the determination of the planned level and structure of prices will be maintained. (62)
  • Recover the place of work as the fundamental means of contributing to the development of society and the satisfaction of personal and family needs. (130)
  • Modify the structure of employment, reducing inflated staffing and increasing employment in the non-state sector (158-159)
  • Eliminate the ration book as a means of distributing products. (162)
  • Improve agriculture so that Cuba is no longer a net importer of food, prioritizing import substituting activities, reviving citrus fruit production, augmenting sugar production. (166, 174, 179, 194.)
  • Promote export-oriented industry (197)
  • Develop a range of new industries such as tires, construction materials and metallurgy (213, 215, 216)
  • Restructuring of domestic retailing and wholesaling. (283-291)

III. Preliminary Evaluation

This document will receive a great deal of attention inside and outside Cuba. It provides fodder – along with the recent legislation on self-employment – for analysts and observers of Cuba, who have had little of hard substance on which to base their analyses of Cuban policy under the “Raulista” Presidency for some time.

In some senses, this document is remarkable. It sets out an ambitious reform program for much of the Cuban economy. It may indeed constitute a “Wish List” of all the types of policy improvements and changes that would be nice to have. The question is “can and will they be implemented?”

This document also is a major risk for the Raul Castro Administration. It provides a check-list of tasks that will be difficult to achieve. If future implementation and economic performance is far below the expectations that are now being raised to high levels, there could well be a serious fall-out for the Government and the Party.

The document is also broad and ambitious but does not set any clear priorities and does not propose a sequence of actions. Everything can’t be done at once. How should the policy changes be phased or sequenced?

Some observers are skeptical and perhaps cynical regarding the “Guide” – for good historical reasons. In her Blog Entry entitled The Art of Speaking Without Speaking (http://www.desdecuba.com/generationy/?p=2088) Yoani Sanchez states:

When you grow up decoding each line that appears in the newspapers, you manage to find, among the rhetoric, the nugget of information that motivates, the hidden shreds of the news. We Cubans have become detectives of the unexpressed, experts in discarding the chatter and discovering — deep down — what is really driving things. The Draft Guidelines for the Communist Party’s VI Congress is a good exercise to sharpen our senses, a model example to evaluate the practice of speaking without speaking, which is what state discourse is here.

The Guide undoubtedly could be seen as an economic rescue program designed to rescue also the Communist party of Cuba, which faces steady de-legitimation as the economy deteriorates – even as the official GDP statistics appear to rise steadily.

What is missing from the “Guide”? Here is a first brief listing. Further analysis will be incorporated here later.

1.      Nothing is said regarding labor rights. A vital part of the reform approach if labor is to be used effectively would be freedom of association, collective bargaining and the right to strike. In the absence of these, pressures and insights from the grass roots to improve economic policy and its effectiveness are suppressed.

2.      Nothing is said regarding freedom of expression and the right to criticize the policies and institutions openly, honestly and continuously. The absence of this right leads to economic inefficiency and corruption as argued elsewhere. ( Freedom of Expression, Economic Self-Correction and Self-Renewal)

3.      No further elaboration of how the self-employment or micro-enterprise sector is presented, suggesting that the recent reforms are the end of the journey not a first step.

4.      The dedication to centralized determination of prices is problematic. If maintained strictly, it would make the decentralized decision-making allotted to enterprises for investment, the hiring of resource inputs, etc. meaningless, and the problems of trying to run the economy from a few office towers in Havana would continue.

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