HAVANA TIMES — The newly authorized Cuban cooperatives might be facing a thousand obstacles and surely have their own defects. Maybe someday I’ll write more on the subject, since the adopted legislation is broad and deserves a detailed study. Relatedly, its practical application has been marked by the usual sluggishness of such changes here on the Island
Nevertheless, I think we should note that the approval of cooperatives is the result of the persistent demands from outside the bureaucratic and governmental spheres.
These are people who have never been alone: “Perucho,” with his radical vision for promoting social “autogestion” (self-management), has been supported by the collective called SPD (Participatory and Democratic Socialism), formed out of debates that began in 2006 concerning the future of Cuba, he’s also associated with the Critical Observatory Network; while Camila is the best known researcher in an entire specialized community of economists, sociologists and anthropologists who are deepening the study of cooperatives in Cuba.
A team of these experts prepared the draft legislation on cooperatives. Although there doesn’t exist a “conspiracy” between activists and academics, we can say that there has been a synergy.
But this still isn’t enough.
From the left we’re warned that there is “a risk of the cooperativism among us degenerating into another managerial formula for increasing production, divorced from the desire for justice, freedom and the leadership of the people,” according to the Cuban libertarian socialist critique of Marcelo Liberato Salinas [in Spanish) on Camila’s recent book Cooperativas y socialismo.
That scenario occurred in the USSR, for example, during the perestroika period, when cooperatives turned into the future embryos of capitalist conglomerates of Russian mobsters.
Also missing is due consideration of the possibilities of providing consumer cooperatives (see “The Future of a Monumental Institution”), though this implies a gender bias, because women are the ones in Cuba who are most involved with chores within the home.
There’s no doubt that it will be up to the citizenry to drive and promote new cooperatives, extending their scope and tearing down the paper barriers of poverty. Everything will depend on the creativity and critical capacity of the people.
“Ordinary” people, in a courageous democratic effort, are the only force that can pull out “more country” (as Marti once said) of any initiative, whatever its source. Without courage, without creativity and without the people, the proposals and laws are worth next to nothing. The vector of power must begin from below.
Is there skepticism concerning this? Recent actions vividly demonstrate the effectiveness of mobilization from below in Cuba (i.e. the preventing the closure of the Santa Cruz del Norte hospital, the struggle for Campo Florido to remain a part of the capital, the reforestation of a wooded area that was razed to build housing for military personnel).
It’s official: Communities in Cuba can halt the conspiracies of the bureaucracy through popular action. Cooperative society could be the next step. Period.