By Lissett Izquierdo, Cubadebate journalist. Graduated from the University of Havana (2014). She worked at the Cuban News Agency from 2011 until September 2018.
and Ferrer Ariel Ley Royero
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The Cuban economy plan for 2020 will have a new conception: it will be elaborated without specific directives or limits, since it will come out of the active participation of workers in each company, informed Alejandro Gil, Minister of Economy and Planning (MEP), this Wednesday.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the VIII Congress of the National Association of Economists and Accountants of Cuba (ANEC), at the Havana Convention Center, the Minister argued that planning will become a collective construction, in which the potentialities of the country’s entities are identified.
Gil reminded the delegates and guests that up to the moment a global model of the economy was made, from which the specific directives for sectors came out, that is to say, the requests for goods and services, as well as the pre-defined level of imports and exports that the economy would have.
According to Gil, now “there is no straitjacket,” but we will have to be objective, realistic and conscious. This new way, demanded for years by the workers, also requires a change of mentality, because “there will be those who are used to the numbers coming from above,” said the minister.
For this reason, he said, this process – which is currently taking place in the labor collectives – will require the support of ANEC and the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC). “The plan that is built has to be by nature more efficient than the one that came from the top down.
Gil ratified that for next year, in the midst of the restrictions that the country presents and the tightening of the blockade imposed by the United States, growth and development can be guaranteed due to the existence of human capital, a national industry with potentialities to be better exploited and a more diversified foreign trade.
Among the priorities, he mentioned activities related to food production, housing programs, transportation, computerization and medicines. The financing of national industry will also take precedence.
In the words of the head of the MEP, one of the problems that hinders the performance of the Cuban economy is the persistence of a mentality that is highly dependent on imports. In recent years there has been a trend towards increasing purchases abroad, which has an impact today, he argued.
He explained that goods are imported that with efforts can be produced within the country. For example, animal feed for pigs, because when there are failures in their purchase, the production and commercialization potholes appear, as happened in the last quarter of last year.
“The economy must prepare itself to gradually reduce these purchases, although it will not be resolved immediately,” he said.
In agreement with Gil, one of the ways to strengthen national industry is to promote productive chains, based on policies and financial incentives. It has also been conceived to strengthen local development projects, based on the use of the endogenous resources of the territories.
Another topic discussed by the Minister of Economy was that of investments. He commented that not infrequently there are differences between feasibility studies and yields. In these studies, scientific rigor must prevail, he said.
He added that the return on investment is little analyzed, when the most important thing is the examination of the expected result of the investment and how it impacted the economy.
Economists committed to the development of their country
In the opening remarks, Oscar Luis Hung Pentón, president of ANEC, reiterated the commitment of the more than 80,200 members of the organization to the process of updating the Cuban economic model.
In reviewing ANEC’s performance in recent years, Hung Pentón highlighted the activity of improvement, especially of officials and specialists in the state sector of the economy, as well as the development of science.
On the other hand, the working links between ANEC and the Permanent Commission for the Implementation and Development of the Guidelines constitute an expression of the close communication existing today between the governmental structures, directly involved in the transformations of the economy, and the prevailing Cuban economic thought in the civil society, said the expert.
The meeting was attended by Jorge Cuevas Ramos, member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Party and Head of its Economic Department; Meisi Bolaños, head of Finance and Prices; and Abel Prieto, director of the Martiano Program Office and president of the José Martí Cultural Society.
By Arthur González
June 9, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
Never before has the U.S. government allowed Internet access to Cuba, nor the use of under-sea cables that pass near its coasts or other facilities. Many Internet sites are banned from the island because of the 59-year economic war. However, Barack Obama approved a license for Google to enter Cuba. What were the reasons for that decision?
To help Cubans access more scientific, technical and other information to improve the Cuban economy?
Definitely not. Definitely not. Access restrictions still remain in many of these areas, the real objective was to reach Cuban youth with their distorted information, symbols, and values, as Obama himself stated:
“…we can do more to support the Cuban people and promote our values through commitment. “The changes introduced in our new policy will further enhance our goal of empowering the Cuban people. […] and provide them with new sources of information…”
Of course, Cuba must take advantage of this opening, however small it may be. [We want] to go out into the world and make our truth known, to defeat the media campaigns that overflow the network of networks with lies, such as false claims of violations of the rights of Cubans, to share Cuba’s achievements, achieved with effort and sacrifice, despite the damage caused by the criminal policies of the United States.
It is the opportunity to tell the world about the terrorist acts carried out by the U.S. government, the biological warfare which affected the people and the persecution of all the foreign banks and companies that try to establish business with Cuba.
In order not to be naïve, Cubans must be aware of what lies behind Obama’s [granting of the] license and why Donald Trump maintains it, despite having taken steps to dismantle many aspects of his predecessor’s policy, including the Presidential Directive, which sought to kill the people with honey, rather than with whips.
During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump took on the reactionary and ultraconservative language embodied in the Republican Party Platform, which sets out, among other things, the following points:
“The opening of the current Obama administration to Cuba was a shameful accommodation to the demands of the tyrants. They will only strengthen that military dictatorship. […] We demand an aerial platform for Radio and TV Martí broadcasts, and the promotion of Internet access as a technological tool to strengthen the pro-democracy movement in Cuba.”
Since his arrival in the White House, Trump has delivered on his campaign for the presidency, but he has not changed the license granted to Google for Cuba. In recent days he allowed Google’s executive president, Eric Emerson Schmidt, to travel to Havana in the company of Republican Senator Jeff Flake. Their background speaks for itself.
In 1996, the RAND Corporation of the United States National Defense Research Institute conducted a study for the Defense Department entitled “Cuban Communications, Computer Networks and their Implications for U.S. Policy.
That work puts forth the need to help open up Cuba and to force the emergence of an independent civil society, for which it states:
“It is necessary to encourage Cuba’s link to the Internet, to use it to transmit balanced news and analysis, to promote its use by Cuban NGOs, universities and other audiences.
Insisting on that, in March 2005, ultra-conservative Roger Noriega, Under Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs, testified at a congressional hearing:
“The United States has relaxed licensing requirements so that, for the first time, high-speed personal computers can be delivered to civil society groups.
During an event held in 2012 at the Heritage Foundation, in conjunction with Google Ideas, a report was prepared recommending that the U.S. government create a remote WIFI network to enable Cubans to access the Internet.
In that gathering Republican Senator Marco Rubio was present. He said:
“The Cuban totalitarian system could collapse if all Cubans had free access to the Internet, because Cuba would follow the same fate as those countries that spent the Arab Spring.
The State Department announced on June 13, 2013, proposed projects to promote democracy and human rights in Cuba, including the use of digital tools to be used, selectively and safely, by the civilian population, along with other programs to promote equality and defend the social networks of black Cubans.
Programs created for subversion in Cuba such as Zunzuneo and Conmotion, the latter designed by the Open Technology Institute at The New America Foundation, were promptly denounced.
We welcome full access to the Internet, because Cubans are sufficiently prepared to know how to differentiate between the useful and the subversive, but in the face of an enemy that has not stopped attacking for more than half a century, we must always be alert and, as José Martí said:
“Do at every moment what is necessary at every moment”
By Juventud Rebelde email@example.com
Published: Thursday 12 April 2018 | 02:08:31 AM
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
At press time, it was announced that a customer had signed a contract with a commercial unit of the Cuban Telecommunications Company (Etecsa) in Guanabacoa, in the eastern part of Havana, with whom the country has five million active mobile line services. According to information provided by Etecsa’s Institutional Communication Department, this figure confirms the growing evolution of mobile telephony on the island in recent years. Keep in mind that in December 2003 there were only 43,000 active mobile lines, by April 2008 the number of these had risen to 223 000, by March 2014 it had reached 2 million, by December 2016 it had reached 4 million, and 2017 closed with 4.22 million of these services.
Although clients in our country can claim and assert their rights against any violation, it is worth asking what mechanisms and norms exist today to protect them.
Author: Yaditza del Sol González | firstname.lastname@example.org
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Of course, these evils are compounded by others that affect trade in our country. These include irregularity in supplies, price-quality balance, insufficient information provided to buyers on the terms of product guarantees, few strategies and promotional initiatives, or the symptoms of apathy and mistreatment sometimes shown by staff working in stores and other establishments.
One thing is clear: to leave it to spontaneity or good faith to solve this problem would be to be naïve. The country is aware that, more than a glance, the most important thing is to take precise action, without delay, to eliminate the culture of abuse. It is not a favor to attend to the people and provide them with the service they request.
SOME OF THE COMPLAINT MECHANISMS AND CHANNELS THAT EXIST IN THE COUNTRY:
The Assemblies of Accountability of the delegate of the People’s Power of the district or private attention by this delegate.
The Attorney General’s Office and the Legal Consultations, which deal with complaints and issue consultations to citizens.
In the Councils of the Municipal and Provincial Administration, and in the companies located in the different territories where the Departments of Attention to the Population operate.
The Offices of Attention to the Population of the Communist Party of Cuba, in all its instances.
The mass media is another way for the population to lodge complaints.
SOME CONSUMER RIGHTS ESTABLISHED IN RETAIL ENTITIES.
To the satisfaction of their basic needs, through access to essential basic goods and services through the different modalities established in the country and according to their income.
The protection of the life, health, and safety of the consumer against risks caused in the supply of products and services considered dangerous, harmful and against poor quality and false or misleading advertising.
To the protection of their economic income, through fair, just and respectful treatment in the purchase and sale and contractual transactions and against coercive commercial methods or methods involving misinformation about products and services.
To the information, that is, to receive all the truthful and timely information on the different goods and services, with correct specification of quantity, characteristics, composition, quality, and price, as well as on the risks they represent.
To education and dissemination on the appropriate consumption of goods or services that ensure freedom of choice, fairness in the conduct of exchange and the preparation of the consumer to engage in responsible consumption.
To choose, which gives the possibility to satisfy the needs of consumers according to their expectations, tastes, preferences, all within a national framework and in accordance with the specific possibilities and conditions of the national economy.
To ensure that the conservation and preservation of the environment is not undermined.
To full, timely and adequate compensation for damages resulting from the purchase of the goods or services offered on the market and to effective compensation, whenever feasible, as regulated in the event of the supplier’s default.
To have access to the corresponding bodies for the protection of their rights with a view to presenting their opinions and complaints in the different instances, creating the conditions for their analysis, through agile and efficient procedures.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
The capitalist socio-economic order is synonymous with freedom only for those who accept that the first freedom must be for capital and that money must be free to buy everything. When the capacity of money to acquire the goods that sustain life in society is restricted or when it is prevented from behaving in the manner of another commodity that can be bought and sold, it is restricted to capitalism.
That is why it is so important for capitalism that popular consciousness has been manipulated by the system and won over to the idea that “capitalism” equals “democracy” and that any attack on the freedom of money to acquire any of the earthly and moral goods of society is an attack on democracy.
Can you imagine what your country, and this planet, would be like if doctors, educators, courts, governments, the means of production and services, information, cultural expressions and even the conditions for making love were equally available to everyone in a society where money cannot determine differences in the quality and urgency of benefits?
But this would distort the precarious asymmetrical balance present in almost every society on the planet, because capitalism needs such ideas to continue on the fringes of citizen aspirations.
Because, for capitalism, it would be terrible if a person with many economic resources were condemned to the same quality of life and the same conditions of treatment and possibilities of cure in cases of illness as those who lack sufficient money.
Because, from a capitalist point of view, it cannot be considered logical that the descendants of the wealthy should have to share the same classrooms and quality of education with children from poor families.
Because it does not seem rational to a good bourgeois that the poor and the rich should be judged, in the case of crime, by the same standards, nor that they should share galleys in prison with corrupt millionaire and hungry common criminals.
Because in the electoral systems of capitalism, it should not happen that elected leaders should dispense with the donations made by the richest, most influential and responsible individuals and entities of society in their campaigns for office. In their future performance as leaders, they may consider themselves obliged to protect the security of corporate capital and that of the nation’s most important and powerful layer.
Because, in the capitalist order, the media is only free if private capital can buy radio and television stations, magazines, newspapers, news agencies or any other means of communication. This is so that they may be in a position to efficiently ensure that what is published serves their own interests, which are the determining factors in bourgeois society as a whole.
Because the capitalist system needs the best of national and international art and culture to be exhibited or imported for the enjoyment of society’s educated elite, which has the resources to pay for the costs involved through advertising.
Because in a capitalist society it is considered healthy that everything is structured in such a way that the main attraction for gender relations is money and economic position. Thus, the most beautiful men and women are attracted to other beautiful men and woman with greater wealth, without peculiar considerations such as understanding, kindness, sensitivity or other sentimental or otherwise subjective arguments.s.
For capitalism, stimulating competitiveness and the struggle for profit as engines of progress, at every level of the economy, brings the greatest dividends and any other consideration – moral, ethical or patriotic, for example – limits the development of the nation.
When any of the above conditions are missing or are threatened by the misunderstanding that they are inherent to capitalism and that this is the same as democracy, we must act with haste and without mercy.
This is how modern capitalism does it systematically, through the government of the United States and the oligarchies that are submissive to it, anywhere in the world.
The erratic hegemonic performance of the United States in recent years has contributed greatly to the discrediting of the capitalist way of life on a global scale. Capitalism has shown that its model is not in line with the aspirations of the dispossessed classes of the rich countries, nor with those of the peoples of the Third World, who are eager to live in a less cruel and more equitable system.
April 5, 2018.
By Redaccion OnCuba
January 27, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews[The sign says, “If we weren’t Cubans, we would pay to be.”]
Padura, who was in the Spanish city of Toledo to present his new novel La transparencia del tiempo, answered reporters’ questions, that although he can’t be sure, he believes Trump is president “because in ahead of him, there was a candidate who was a woman.
And, in the United States, it was easier to have a black president than a female president, it’s a very complicated society,” he added.
Cuban writer Leonardo Padura said that the president of the United States, Donald Trump,”is the sin that Americans themselves are paying for their way of thinking”.
In this regard, he recalled that the story he tells in his latest novel takes place fundamentally in 2014 and ends with the beginning of talks between Cuba and the United States to re-establish relations.
It was a very hopeful development for the vast majority of Cubans and a large majority of Americans. But unfortunately, one of President Trump’s fundamental policies has been to dismantle President Obama’s policies,” said Padura.
I don’t believe that he has had a definite policy, except in the dismantling of what Obama created, and that’s where Cuba also fell,” said the writer, for whom relations between Cuba and the United States were restored but not normalized,” because, with an economic and financial embargo there can’t be normal relations.
In this context, he stressed that the Cuban community in Miami “is really very important.
It is a community that has made great efforts, which has even been able to accumulate capital “and will be important in the future development of Cuba,” according to Padura. He added that although in his principles this community “was characterized by being totally hostile to the Cuban revolutionary system,” now other more open generations have arrived.
The new generation of Cubans from Miami is much more open, its members travel to Cuba very often ” and they feel Cuban,” said Padura. He added that he has personally perceived that “it is increasingly possible for a Cuban artist living in Cuba to present himself as something normal in Miami.
There is an atmosphere “in which you can find some sense of hostility,” although he pointed out that “this has remained for a political class for which the bad relationship with Cuba is part of their work and is also part of their business.
But, in general, I feel that it is a community that has changed a lot in recent times. The historical exile no longer exists,” said Padura, who, for this novel brings back the character of police officer Mario Conde, who has starred in half a dozen novels.
In the plot, Conde is going to turn 60 years old and age begins to worry him. Not because of vanity,”but because he wants to witness things that may happen in the future” even though he is a man obsessed with the past “and knows that this vital period is running out”.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Cuba produces, consumes and exports substantial amounts of Havana cigars and rum, products that enjoy a lot of prestige and are in high demand in international markets.
It is somehow perplexing that a nation which –according to United Nations specialized agencies– contributes greatly to the prevention and cure of ailments through the medical assistance offered by its scientists in many countries, is likewise an important supplier in the world market of products that are harmful to health, such as alcohol and tobacco.
The inhabitants of the islands that make up the Cuban archipelago took control of their destiny after a bloody liberation struggle. By then, the humble and exploited Cuban peasants and workers had managed to develop –with sweat and tears resulting from strenuous capitalist exploitation– cultivation techniques, handicraft and manufacturing techniques which, together with climatic and agricultural conditions specific to parts of the Cuban archipelago, had placed the island at the head of the world in these product which make it proud today.
Cuba had always been denied democratic paths. It had to achieve its independence, in the decade of the 1950’s, through an armed struggle waged by a rebel vanguard at the cost of thousands of lives.
But when the popular revolution won and the Cuban people became owners of the country’s destiny, the new government was forced to limit the scope of its social welfare goals.
This was because of the need to defend against the counter-revolutionary actions of the oligarchy, already displaced from the government but supported by the United States superpower.
After the proclamation of Cuba’s independence from Spanish colonial rule, the US played the same hegemonic role that Spain had exercised previously.
Not all the big companies that were nationalized by the revolution reacted in the same way.
Virtually all non-US foreign companies accepted the path of negotiation and resolved the matter sensibly, without further conflict. Several of them, over the years, have returned to have investments in Cuba at much higher levels.
For more than sixty years, US companies nationalized in Cuba were not allowed by the US blockade laws against Cuba (euphemistically called “embargo”) to sit down and normally discuss compensation issues.
Everything had to be done in an organized manner, and the inevitable impact had to be treated carefully to minimize violent effects, always in the hope of future understanding and tolerance.
In the case of Bacardí, the former owners of the firm opted for making a legal war against Cuba.
Shortly after the triumph of the revolution, they registered the Bacardí Company in Bermuda and fought a legal battle in the International Court of The Hague for the ownership of the brand.
They managed to maintain the right to the Bacardi brand and the bat as its symbol, but they were denied the right to identify their rum as Cuban or originally from Havana.
In 1999, thanks to their political links and the blockade, Bacardi managed to get the US Congress to approve a provision that would allow it to seize the Havana Club brand within the US territory.
The World Trade Organization condemned the action, but allowed Bacardi to market, within the United States, the fake Havana Club rum made in Puerto Rico.
Through bizarre legal maneuvers, Bacardí allegedly had acquired from an industrialist named José Arechabala, the property of a small rum factory called Havana Club. This had been his property since 1934 until its nationalization in 1960. In truth, those rights were non-existent, because they belonged to the Cuban state.
Despite the blockade, Cuba has regularly renewed the Havana Club brand with the US Patent Office since 1976.
The brand was given to the rum Cuba produces that in the past had been named Bacardí. Cuba has continued producing the Havana Club rum with total international legal backing. Obviously, because of the US blockade, the Havana Club brand could not be registered in the United States.
Since 1994, the production of Havana Club rum and its worldwide distribution, except in the United States, has been done by a joint venture of the French Pernod Ricard and the Cuban Ron Cuba. This is a measure of defense against the intense harassment of the blockade against the Island.
In a short time, the Cuban Havana Club rum quality has captured the preference of rum drinkers from around the world who have stopped consuming Bacardi (manufactured in Puerto Rico). Drinkers of the best rum in the world, including Americans, do not settle for the fake that Bacardí is today.
February 6, 2018
By Agustín Lage Dávila
March 23, 2016
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
“Viva Cuba Libre” on a street in Havana, March 22, 2016.
I had the opportunity to participate in several meetings with the delegation that accompanied Obama and to listen to the President’s three speeches. Now I feel obliged to share with my colleagues what I understood of what was said and of what was not said, because in politics what is left unsaid is often as important as what is said.
There are two complementary ways of thinking to interpret this visit and the whole process of trying to normalize relations: to interpret what it means for an assessment of the past, and to interpret what it means for a projection into the future.
Looking to the past it is evident that the recently-begun process of normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States should be interpreted as a great victory of the Cuban revolutionary and socialist people, their convictions, their resilience and sacrifices, their culture, their ethical commitment to social justice; as well as a victory of Latin American solidarity with Cuba.
There are a few things that are so obvious to us Cubans that sometimes we forget to emphasize them:
I do not think there is anyone fairly lucid and well-informed in the world who can interpret this ongoing normalization process as anything other than a victory for Cuba in its historical dispute with the United States.
Looking to the past, that is the only possible interpretation.
But looking to the future, things are more complex; and there are at least two possible extreme interpretations, as well as intermediate variations:
On the streets of Cuba both are discussed today. I alert the reader at this point that, for now, I will not argue for or against one of these two hypotheses, or their various combinations. Future events will take care of it, and each person will draw “their own conclusions” in this “passage to the unknown” [a reference to the closing sentence of the host of Cuban TV show Pasaje a lo Desconocido or, Passage to the Unknown]
Those who adhere to the hypothesis of the evil conspiracy read the words of President Obama as a false promise or a subtle deception that follow a plan designed to open the doors to US capital and the influence of US media; to allow expansion in Cuba of an economically privileged sector, which eventually would evolve into the social foundation for capitalist restoration and the renouncing of our national sovereignty. These would be the first steps for a return to the Cuba of rich and poor, dictators and gangsters that we had in the ’50s.
Cubans who think like that are entitled to do so: there are many facts in the common history that justify this enormous distrust. These are known and I do not need to list them here.
Many people remember the famous phrase attributed to President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he said of Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza: “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch“.
Certainly neither President Obama, nor the current generations of US Americans of good will (there are many) are to blame, as individuals, for the early stages of this historical trajectory. But it is also undeniable that the history is there, and it imposes constraints on what they can do, and on how we interpret what they do. Historical processes are much longer than a human life, and events that occurred many decades ago influence our choices today, because they condition collective attitudes that have an objective existence, relatively independent of the ideas and intentions of the leaders.
Even distancing President Obama from the aggressive and immoral policies of previous administrations, which organized invasions, sheltered terrorists, encouraged assassinations of Cuban leaders and implemented the attempt to starve the Cuban people; even establishing this distinction, we cannot forget that Obama alone is not the political class in the United States. There are many other components of power there. They have always been present: are present today, will be present when Obama’s term ends within a few months, and will be present in the foreseeable future. We are seeing them in the current election campaign.
To be honest with everyone who reads this note, I must admit that President Obama did not give the impression here of being the articulator of an evil conspiracy, but of being an intelligent and educated man who believes in what he says. What happens then is that the things he believes in (he has every right) are different from those we believe in (also with every right).
That is the second hypothesis: divergent conceptions about human society. These were very evident in every moment of President Obama and his delegation’s visit to Cuba, in all that was said, and in what was left unsaid.
It was very clear that the main direction of the US relationship with Cuba will be in the economic field and within this field the main strategy will be to relate to the non-state sector and support it.
It was very clear in the speech and symbolic messages, that they would distance themselves from the Cuban socialist state economy, as if “state property” meant property owned by an alien entity, not the property of all the people as it really is.
On the need for the existence of a non-state sector in the Cuban economy, we have no differences. In fact, the expansion of the space of the self-employed and the cooperatives is part of the implementation of the Guidelines of the 6th Party Congress. The divergence lies in the role that such non-state sector should have in our economy:
Taking the path of civilized coexistence “with our differences” means that all the Cuban people must know very well where these differences are to prevent –seemingly rational– ad hoc decisions for tactical economic problems lead to strategic errors; and worse, that others push us to these through the things that are said and left unsaid.
We knew how to avoid those mistakes in the beginning of the Special Period, after the disappearance of the European socialist bloc and the rise of the neoliberal ideological tide of the 90s. We will know how to do it now, even better.
Civilized coexistence certainly leads us away from the dangers and barbarities of war (military and economic), but does not spare us from the battle in the realm of ideas.
We need to win the battle of ideas to win the economic battle.
The economic battle of the Cuban 21st Century will occur in three main areas:
The battle of ideas means to consolidate thinking and consensus on where we want to go, and on the concrete ways to get there.
The waters of the Straits of Florida should not be a field of war, and it is very good for everyone that they are not so; but those waters will continue separating for a long time two different conceptions of human coexistence, of the organization of people for social life and work, as well as the distribution of its fruits. And it is also very good that this is so.
Our ideal of human society is rooted in our historical experience and the collective soul of Cubans, masterfully synthesized by the thought of José Martí. He studied and understood US society better than anyone else in his time and said: “Our life does not resemble theirs, nor should it resemble it in many ways.”
The basic belief of capitalism, even of those who so honestly believe in it, is the construction of material prosperity based on private property and competition. Ours is based on the creativity driven by the ideals of social equity and solidarity among people, including future generations. Our concept of society is the future, and although the future is delayed, stuck in the objectives of the present constraints, it remains being what we must fight for.
Private property and competition are the past; and although that past continues, of necessity, existing within the present, it remains being the past.
We must always see the concepts behind the spoken words, and the arguments behind the words unuttered.
The battle for our ideal of human coexistence will be in the hands of the present generation of young Cubans. In their times, they will face challenges different than those of the revolutionary generations of the twentieth century. But their challenges will be equally large and momentous, and also more complex.
In analyzing the complexity of their challenges I confess I would wish to join the Union of Young Communists again. Its card (Nº7784, 1963) I have on my desk right now. I’m still a communist, but I have to accept the fact that I can no longer be considered “young”. But I can share with young people the analysis of what is being said today, and the unveiling of what is not said. And I can build with them the intellectual tools we need for the battles to come.
José Martí wrote in April 1895: “Of thought is the greatest war that is being made against us: Let us win it by thought“
Viva Cuba Libre”, en en una calle de La Habana, este 22 de marzo de 2016. Foto: Desmond Boylan/ AP
Tuve la oportunidad de participar en varios encuentros con la delegación que acompañó al Presidente Obama y escucharlo en tres intervenciones; y siento ahora el deber de compartir con mis compañeros lo que interpreté de lo que se dijo, y también de lo que no se dijo, pues en política lo que se deja de decir suele ser tan importante como lo que se dice.
Hay dos direcciones complementarias de pensamiento para interpretar esta visita y todo el proceso de intento de normalización de las relaciones: interpretar lo que significa para una valoración del pasado, e interpretar lo que significa para una proyección hacia el futuro.
De cara al pasado es evidente que el proceso de normalización recién iniciado en las relaciones entre Cuba y los Estados Unidos hay que interpretarlo como una victoria mayúscula del pueblo revolucionario y socialista cubano, de sus convicciones, de su capacidad de resistencia y sacrificio, de su cultura, de su compromiso ético con la justicia social; así como también como una victoria de la solidaridad con Cuba de América Latina.
Hay cosas que nos resultan tan evidentes a los cubanos que a veces olvidamos subrayarlas.
No creo que haya nadie medianamente lúcido e informado en el mundo que pueda interpretar este proceso de normalización en curso como otra cosa que no sea una victoria de Cuba en su diferendo histórico con los Estados Unidos.
De cara al pasado es esa la única interpretación posible.
Ahora bien, de cara al futuro las cosas son más complejas, y hay al menos dos interpretaciones extremas posibles, y sus variantes intermedias:
En las calles de Cuba se discute hoy sobre ambas. Alerto al lector en este punto que no voy a argumentar por ahora a favor o en contra de una de estas dos hipótesis, o de las combinaciones diversas de ambas. Los acontecimientos futuros se encargarán de hacerlo, y cada cual sacará “sus propias conclusiones” en este “pasaje a lo desconocido”.
Quienes se adhieren a la hipótesis de la conspiración perversa ven las palabras del Presidente Obama como una falsa promesa o un sutil engaño que responde a un plan concebido para que abramos las puertas al capital norteamericano y a la influencia de sus medios de comunicación; para que permitamos la expansión en Cuba de un sector económicamente privilegiado, que con el tiempo se iría transformando en la base social de la restauración capitalista y el renunciamiento a la soberanía nacional. Serían los primeros pasos del camino de retorno hacia la Cuba de ricos y pobres, dictadores y mafiosos, que teníamos en los años 50.
Los cubanos que piensan así, tienen derecho a hacerlo: hay muchos hechos en la historia común que justifican esa enorme desconfianza. Son conocidos y no necesito enumerarlos aquí.
Mucha gente recuerda la famosa frase atribuida al Presidente Franklin D. Roosevelt cuando dijo del dictador nicaragüense Anastasio Somoza: “Tal vez Somoza sea un hijo de puta, pero es nuestro hijo de puta”.
Ciertamente ni el Presidente Obama, ni las actuales generaciones de norteamericanos de buena voluntad (que hay muchos) tienen la culpa, como personas individuales, de las primeras etapas de esa trayectoria histórica. Pero también es innegable que esa historia está ahí, y que impone condicionamientos a lo que ellos pueden hacer, y a nuestra manera de interpretar lo que ellos hacen. Los procesos históricos son mucho más largos que una vida humana, y eventos ocurridos hace muchas décadas influyen en nuestras opciones de hoy, porque condicionan actitudes colectivas que tienen una existencia objetiva, relativamente independiente de las ideas y las intenciones de los líderes.
Aún distanciando al Presidente Obama de las políticas agresivas e inmorales de administraciones precedentes, que organizaron invasiones, cobijaron terroristas, estimularon asesinatos de líderes cubanos e implementaron el intento de rendir por hambre al Pueblo Cubano; aún estableciendo esa distinción, no se puede olvidar que Obama solo no es la clase política de los Estados Unidos. Hay muchos otros componentes del poder ahí, que siempre han estado presentes, lo están hoy, y lo estarán cuando termine el mandato de Obama dentro de algunos meses, y en el futuro previsible. Los estamos viendo en la campaña electoral en curso.
Para ser honesto con todo el que lea esta nota, debo reconocer que el Presidente Obama no dio aquí la impresión de ser el articulador de una conspiración perversa, sino la de ser un hombre inteligente y culto, que cree en lo que dice. Lo que sucede entonces es que las cosas en las que él cree (con todo su derecho) son diferentes a las que creemos nosotros (también con todo nuestro derecho).
Esa es la segunda hipótesis, la de las concepciones divergentes sobre la sociedad humana, las cuales fueron muy evidentes en todos los momentos de la visita a Cuba del Presidente Obama y su delegación, en todo lo que se dijo, y también en lo que se dejó de decir.
Fue muy claro que la dirección principal de la relación de los Estados Unidos con Cuba estará en el campo de la economía, y dentro de este, la estrategia principal será relacionarse con el sector no estatal y apoyarlo.
Fue muy claro, en el discurso y en los mensajes simbólicos, en tomar distancia de la economía estatal socialista cubana, como si la propiedad “estatal” significase propiedad de un ente extraño, y no propiedad de todo el pueblo como realmente es.
En la necesidad de que exista un sector no estatal en la economía cubana no tenemos divergencias. De hecho la expansión del espacio de los cuentapropistas y las cooperativas es parte de la implementación de los Lineamientos surgidos del 6º Congreso del Partido. Donde está la divergencia es en el rol que debe tener ese sector no estatal en nuestra economía:
Emprender el camino de la convivencia civilizada “con nuestras diferencias”, implica conocer bien a fondo y por todo el Pueblo Cubano, dónde es que están esas diferencias, para poder evitar que decisiones puntuales aparentemente racionales ante problemas económicos tácticos, nos puedan llevar a errores estratégicos; y peor aún, que otros nos empujen a ello, a través de las cosas que se dicen y las que no se dicen.
Supimos evitar esos errores en los inicios del periodo especial, ante la desaparición del campo socialista europeo y la marea ideológica neoliberal de los 90. Sabremos hacerlo mejor ahora.
La convivencia civilizada ciertamente nos aleja del riesgo y la barbarie de la guerra (militar y económica), pero no nos exonera de dar la batalla en el plano de las ideas.
Necesitamos vencer en esa batalla de ideas para poder vencer en la batalla económica.
La batalla económica del Siglo XXI cubano se dará en tres campos principales:
En esos campos se decidirá el Siglo XXI de los cubanos.
La batalla de ideas consiste en consolidar pensamiento y consenso sobre hacia donde queremos ir, y sobre los caminos concretos para llegar.
Las aguas del estrecho de La Florida no deben ser un campo de conflicto bélico, y es muy bueno para todos que así sea, pero esas aguas seguirán separando por mucho tiempo dos concepciones diferentes de la convivencia humana, de la organización de los hombres para la vida social y el trabajo, y de la distribución de sus frutos. Y también es muy bueno que así sea. Nuestro ideal de sociedad humana está enraizado en nuestra experiencia histórica y en el alma colectiva de los cubanos, sintetizada magistralmente por el pensamiento de José Martí. Él estudió y entendió mejor que nadie en su tiempo la sociedad norteamericana y dijo: “nuestra vida no se asemeja a la suya, ni debe en muchos puntos asemejarse”.
La creencia básica del capitalismo, incluso en los que así lo creen honestamente, es la construcción de prosperidad material basada en la propiedad privada y la competencia. La nuestra se basa en la creatividad movida por los ideales de equidad social y solidaridad entre las personas, incluidas las generaciones futuras. Nuestro concepto de sociedad es el futuro, y aunque el futuro se demore, atrapado en los condicionamientos objetivos del presente, sigue siendo el futuro por el que hay que luchar.
La propiedad privada y la competencia son el pasado, y aunque ese pasado siga existiendo necesariamente dentro del presente, pasado sigue siendo.
Hay que saber siempre ver los conceptos que están detrás de las palabras que se dicen, y las razones que están detrás de las palabras que no se dicen.
La batalla por nuestro ideal de convivencia humana estará en las manos de las actuales generaciones de jóvenes cubanos, que enfrentarán en su tiempo desafíos diferentes a los de las generaciones revolucionarias del Siglo XX, pero igualmente grandes y trascendentales, y también más complejos.
Al analizar la complejidad de sus desafíos les confieso que quisiera ingresar otra vez en la Unión de Jóvenes Comunistas, cuyo carnet (Nº7784, de 1963) tengo ahora mismo sobre mi mesa. Sigo siendo comunista, pero he de aceptar que ya no puedo seguir siendo “joven”. Pero si puedo compartir con los jóvenes el análisis de lo que hoy se dice, y la develación de lo que no se dice, y construir junto con ellos las herramientas intelectuales que necesitamos para las batallas que vienen.
José Martí escribió en abril de 1895: “De pensamiento es la guerra mayor que se nos hace: Ganémosla a pensamiento”.
June 20, 2016
A Google translation. Revised by Walter Lippmann.
The next phase of change in Cuba’s relations with the United States will come in the form of coffee.
The Swiss company Nespresso, Nestle SA group, announced Monday that Cuban coffee will be sold in the US as of the end of this year. The long-banned coffee (as a result of the blockade), will be sold in a limited edition called Cafecito de Cuba, in stores, online and telephone trading.
Guillaume Le Cunff, President of Nespresso USA, said it is good to be the first company to provide Cuban coffee to the US market. He noted that Nespresso is very interested in developing a long-term agreement to ensure an adequate supply of Cuban coffee to US customers and improve the living conditions of the Cuban producers.
“We are not thinking of a short-term outcome,” said Le Cunff on Sunday. “This is the point nicial an initiative long term. We are very optimistic to manage and build the project. We want consumers in the US can experience this amazing coffee and enjoy them now and in the years to come. “
Nespresso it allied with TechnoServe, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, assisting coffee growers in Colombia. South Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia. David Browning, vice president for strategic initiatives TechnoServe, recently visited Cuba to meet with government officials and visit the small farm where the Cuban coffee grows.
Most of the agricultural land in Cuba are managed by cooperatives of small private farmers. They sell their products to the government, which distributes on the island or export around the world. Nespresso begin their experiment buying Cuban coffee beans to European importers, toasting them, then packaging it and selling it in the United States.
Browning said the two companies discussed the new regulations approved by the US government and saw the opening they needed. “It was necessary that lawyers would ensure us that was totally understandable what the US government was trying. Everything was very clear, “he said.
According to USA Today, the next phase for Nespresso and TehcnoServe will help Cubans farmers improve their production process, helping get new agricultural equipment for harvesting plantation, something not clear how they would be implemented.
In a dispatch today, Reuters explains that in April, the US State Department added to coffee and other products to its list of eligible Cuban imports produced by independent producers.
The regulatory change made it easier Nespresso began sales in the United States of Cafecito de Cuba -a premium roasted espresso in their cafeteras- during this fall.
Cuba produces around 100,000 60-kg bags Arabica year, according to the International Coffee Organization. Although this volume is about five times the annual output of Jamaica, it is just a fraction of the 13.5 million bags waiting Colombia, the world’s largest producer of high quality Arabic washing, for this year.
(With information from Reuters and USA Today)
Cuba and exporters of products such as coffee can not yet directly access the US market. In a statement last May 5, the National Association of Small Farmers declared:
On April 22, the State Department announced the decision to include coffee in the list of Cuban products produced by the non-state sector, which would be imported into that country. With this action continuity to a measure adopted by the government of the United States in February 2015, allowing very limited Cuban exports, which excluded all goods and services produced by state enterprises was given.
He did not say the State Department is that the fact of having deprived unilaterally to Cuba – after decreed the lock- treatment of most favored nation, which rightfully ours as State Founder of the World Trade Organization, any product Cuban to be exported to the United States has to pay higher customs tariffs, which makes it practically impossible to import into that country.
It also ignores the Agrarian Reform Law, enacted after the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, did own the land more than 200,000 peasant families, and that the Cuban State has implemented since a program for productive, economic development and social peasantry of our country and ensured the production assistance, access to credit, secure market for their products and other social benefits.
No one can think that a small farmer can export directly to the United States. To make this possible must participate Cuban foreign trade enterprises and financial transactions have to occur in dollars, which so far have not been able to realize.
We are aware that the objective of these measures is to influence the Cuban peasantry and separate it from our state.
If the government of the United States really wants to contribute to the welfare of Cubans, what it has to do is definitely lift the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed for more than 50 years, which is the main obstacle to the development of Cuba .
20 junio 2016
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
As a source of foreign currency, international tourism is thirty times bigger than it was 60 years ago, with more than 700 million tourists hopping from one country to another every year.
Several rich and highly industrialized nations among the destinations most favored by foreign visitors, and some of them also happen to be top issuers of tourists not only to other no less developed countries but also, and increasingly so, to poor countries where they can enjoy a better climate, a cleaner environment and a richer cultural diversity.
International tourism should be used by the richest countries as a vehicle to repay the poorest ones for the plundering of resources they suffered for centuries as a result of colonialism, neocolonialism, unequal exchange and other forms of sacking and exploitation leading to the dramatic disparity facing mankind today.
However, capitalism has its own set of rules, imposed by big business even to the practice of North-South tourism. Given that the conditions to be met by international tourism are more and more sophisticated, the poor nations find it harder and harder to fulfill them by themselves. Placing the building and management of your hotels and the rest of the tourism infrastructure in the hands of foreign investors is no longer enough to be as competitive as the industry demands nowadays.
For instance, the cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts give the target markets very little chance to make a profit, as the foreign visitors have already paid to the tour operators back home all their travel expenses, including meals, drinks, local transport and leisure activities. In the case of the former, the tourists sleep, eat and enjoy various amenities on board. “All they do when they put into port is damage the environment and get rid of the waste generated during the trip”, grumble those who naysay of this major part of the tourism industry in poor countries. On the other hand, travelers who choose all-inclusive results pay for almost everything in advance: accommodation, meals, soft and alcoholic drinks, sports, entertainment, even the tips. Critics in the recipient countries argue this form of tourism barely helps the local economy and damages the environment to boot. Indeed, most of these resorts are in relatively distant locations far from any major urban center, which prevents tourists from shopping around or enjoying local attractions, mainly because they have paid beforehand for everything their lodgings have to offer. These resorts are owned and/or managed by big corporations that leave the local small or medium-sized enterprises hardly any room to breathe.
At first they offered three daily meals and the clientele would pay for the drinks, but the common practice in the Caribbean made it more comprehensive as a function of developing tourism and making it more social.
In the late 1970s Canada saw the birth of a new mass tourism industry generally aimed at skilled workers who were not as well paid as the traditional tourists from rich countries –which suited the all-inclusive system down to the ground– that provided charter flights, more economic hotel operations and affordable prices that made demand hit the roof.
These all-inclusive resorts promise a vacation without surprises, as the tourists who buy a value pack know that at checkout time they won’t be handed a bill in excess of their calculations.
By the mid-1990s the all-inclusive resorts had become popular throughout the Caribbean and thus forced the big beach hotel chains to jump on the bandwagon.
Nonetheless, the mass tourist operations run by the top corporations in recipient countries have also brought with them serious social damages that the clientele’s few collateral and almost accidental expenses can hardly compensate for. There’s over-exploitation of the local workforce, whose employment insecurity virtually turns them into the foreign company’s slave labor. Consequently, poor areas spring up rapidly around the tourist parks where there are no hospitals or health care centers and corruption and tax evasion, among other scourges, are rampant.
Cuba, on the contrary, has managed to make the most of this economy of scale and stay clear of the social effects that countries like, for example, the Dominican Republic and Mexico have suffered, thanks to the high level of social organization in the Island, the scope of its socialist project, and the fact that the State and its public bodies have full control over foreign investment issues.
Our tourist industry workers are protected and their rights and social benefits guaranteed –an utopian goal everywhere else across the region– and our mass tourism revenues are reinvested in the development and welfare of the Cuban population.
Por Manuel E. Yepe