Hey people, I feel like I’ve been absent for some time, a period which has been fairly productive for me and my neighbors. Between August and September we’ve experienced a “lot of thunder” (though “little rain”) in terms of receiving floor tiles and cement.
Likewise, unproductive time spent were the constant meetings (and misunderstandings), the late issuance of documents and poorly implemented initiatives.
All that has constituted this long process to get our homes rehabilitated has allowed me to better understand the different levels that govern and move the domestic economy here in Cuba, where we enjoy the “the power of the people” as owners and lords of all in sight and everything we can touch with our hands.
However, they don’t allow the same authority to people at the grassroots who are trying to change things, since decision-making power is established through a pyramidal structure that sustains mid-level managers – who effectively oppose the majority.
Government power is represented by institutions and these, in turn, by people immersed in that reality, which has changed considerably over the last 15 years. Over this time -as a result of real human misery and physical hunger- our values have permutated, transfiguring human sensitivity in the chaotic search for individual survival.
Despite the distributional intentions of government plans, these efforts take the shape of a kind of wall that we ordinary Cubans frequently run into, both individually and as a group.
The objective is collective well being, with its scope being those matters relating to domestic trade, housing, transportation, small and medium businesses for domestic goods and services, food and others. To tell the truth though, the networks that implement this distribution wind up distorting it to a great degree.
This is evidenced in provincial, municipal and neighborhood authorities, those which direct government enterprises, and people responsible for guaranteeing financing.
These distortions are also reflected by engineers, construction technicians, as well as butchers, grocers, agricultural produce salespeople, taxi drivers, appliance repair people, inspectors of any kind and others with whom we have to struggle with daily.
In this area, whenever somebody has to decide on or carry out the distribution of something dedicated to the public, you can note a diverse range of actors. It runs from a minority who are trying to be honest, to those who alternatively trick and mistreat people through the under-weighing or overpricing of goods that are bought or services received. This is also experienced in the manner in which they provide their services to those who need them, or how they impede or hide vital information.
This implies a breakdown of any process or solution to problems, from the most minor to those of the greatest magnitude. Any vulnerable chink that is found in the system, little by little, gradually enlarges in accordance with the power in their hands, depending on the petty power they wield – them, the “mid-level managers.”
One thought on “Mid-level Managers”
Regina, thank you for expressing the truth about dysfunction within Cuban “state” socialist society. Expressing such truth is important for eventual improvement of the socialist model in Cuba. What you may not have considered however is how important it is for us in the US (and other capitalist countries) in designing and putting before the people an attractive, workable, achievable socialist republic program.
Our movement–Modern Cooperative Socialist–hopes that our future US cooperative republic will not engender the mid-level corruption and abuse of power of which you speak. We believe that it will not. Such socialism would retain private property rights and the trading market, and use these natural institutions to both inspire and help regulate the economy–along with representative socialist government.
If Cuba develops a workable, truly “Cuban” form of socialism, I’m sure that it will be based on cooperative co-ownership by employees and socialist government.
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