The passionate mission of continuing to invent our own model of socialism
Cuba will live a moment of great expectation, on February 24th, when it submits the new Constitution to a referendum.
Author: Ariel Terrero | email@example.com
January 24, 2019 21:01:43
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
CAPTION: The participation of workers in the planning, regulation, management and control of the economy is a key to ensuring effective decentralization. Photo: Freddy Pérez Cabrera
Cuba will live a moment of great expectations, when, on February 24 it submits the new Constitution to a referendum.This is logical, after creating these expectations among the discussions in nation as a whole, seasoned with the controversial passion that identifies Cuba. But I don’t believe that the conquest of votes is the most thorny challenge posed by the Law of Laws. Not by a long shot. The big challenge comes later.
Society and its institutions will have to legislate and implement the changes and ordinances assumed under the new Constitution. They are not a few. The complex goals it proposes, to broaden the transformations of the economic, social and political model of Cuban socialism, and to deepen the process of its updating…, which has not advanced at the speed that we Cubans dreamed of when we began it more than a decade ago.
The great challenge will come with legistion, which must be much more intense than what has been achieved so far. This is so that the other branches of the legal system start from the foundation of the Magna Carta. One of those branches is the law on companies, which has not yet seen the light of day although it was promised for 2017. It is fundamental to give solidity to a scenario that bets on the coexistence between multiple economic actors, who begin to discover the benefit of alliances between presumed antagonists – in tourism and agro-industries there have been successful experiences.
Several chapters in the new law point to a reordering of government and business administration structures. These favors a more radical decentralization of this country, accustomed for decades to a rigid verticality of economic and government organizations. Perhaps the most daring change is the redesign of territorial structures to give greater prominence to municipal administrations and local development management.
The Constitution also bases the path towards an economy on a diversity of forms of ownership. State enterprise, the main actor of the socialist economy, will share legal and legitimate space with cooperatives, mixed forms and private entities, among others.
The great challenge will not be so much the acceptance of that diversity or the liberation from the cursed aura of words such as private and market. The idea that non-state forms are also a vital link in the chain of production, services and the market has gained social consensus. This aspiration, however, stumbles in an environment lacking optimal conditions for the coexistence of dissimilar forms of property.
More important and difficult than the entry of private companies into the scenario is the granting of autonomy to state-owned companies, which is proposed in Article 26 of the new Magna Carta. Although State business organizations have advanced along this path, they still carry insufficiencies that, together with financial deformations such as the monetary and exchange duality and other trade anomalies, place these entities at a disadvantage compared to non-state rivals.
With better wages and fewer bureaucratic and financial ties, cooperatives and private companies come out on the market under better conditions than state forms. In contrast, these are left with advantages to access technologies, wholesale offers and resources from external markets, but they do not manage to take advantage of them in all their dimension due to the confluence of economic limitations, clumsy interpretations of planning and the subjection to a Cuban currency overvalued at the official exchange rate, among other obstacles.
To which side would the teeter-totter of property forms be inclined in this context? Difficult answer. Risk can inhibit central decisions and state disadvantage would then threaten non-state expansion, especially for small and medium-sized private enterprises that have entered the Cuban economy with a mask of cooperatives or self-employed workers.
The participation of workers in the planning, regulation, management and control of the economy, which was symbolically incorporated with popular debate into the constitutional project, constitutes an old aspiration of society and is a key to guaranteeing effective decentralization into enterprises and budgeted units of the State.