Cuba: Fewer State Jobs, More Self Employed

By Circles Robinson

Raul Castro spoke of new policies for the country.

HAVANA TIMES, August 1 — The Cuban government plans a major cut back on State jobs during the next nine months while opening opportunities for more self employment initiatives, President Raul Castro told the parliament on Sunday without giving any details.

Castro announced that the Council of Ministers had voted to “reduce inflated State payrolls considerably.”  Likewise, it was agreed to open up the possibility for individual private initiatives “by eliminating several existing prohibitions on issuing new business licenses and the marketing of some products.”   “Hiring practices will also become more flexible,” he added.

The president said the details of the new labor/employment policies would be forthcoming at a soon to take place meeting of the National Council of the Cuban Workers’ Federation.

He called the new measures “a structural change”, in order “to preserve and develop our social system” and make the country’s socialist economy  “sustainable in the future.”

Later in his address, Raul Castro mentioned the government’s decision to release the remaining 52 of 75 prisoners arrested in 2003.

He maintained that they were not political prisoners but “counterrevolutionaries” that were not arrested and tried for their ideas —but instead for violating laws when working for the US government and its “policy of blockade and subversion” against Cuba.

Castro also referred to the state of affairs in Cuba-US relations saying, “in essence nothing has changed.”  He noted that the Cuban Five are still imprisoned unjustly in the US and that while “there exists less rhetoric and some bilateral talks have occasionally occurred on specific topics, in reality the blockade continues to be enforced. ”  He further added:  “We continue acting with the patience and serenity we’ve learned over more than a half century.”


5 thoughts on “Cuba: Fewer State Jobs, More Self Employed

  • The problem with the Cuban economy is not that too many workers are employed by the state. The problem is that the state has legal ownership of almost all the productive assets of the country. This one-big-corporation form of economy engenders bureaucracy, lack of innovation, laziness, corruption, and a whole known range of endemic problems.

    When Raul says too many state employees don’t do enough work, or don’t care about increased production, he is inferring that its all the workers’ fault. Uh, Raul, it will not help your economy to fire a bunch of workers unless you allow legal private property rights. Conversely, if you do allow private property rights the entrepreneurial incentives can take off and make Cuba a prosperous country.

    So, fire away . . . but reestablish the institution of private property.

    Problem is, if you do this but do not ensure that employee-owned cooperatives become dominant in the economy, a new capitalist class without organic links to the workers will emerge, and Cuba will be right back where she started.

    What you need is a revolution in theory, and the first order of business in this is getting rid of the unscientific, false cult of Marxism.

  • Circles, one thing I have noticed about Fidel Castro is that he has limit himself to make comments on the international news and not about the problems in Cuba. I think this may have been some sort of agreement between Fidel and Raul. Where Raul is left in charge of changes for Cuba without the looking over the shoulder of the older brother.
    This may all have come about when in a meeting I think of the OAS Raul mentioned he was willing to talk with the American government to be later contradicted by Fidel Castro in one of his the reflection where he tried to put Raul’s word in a different light that was really intended. I could imagine neither of them was happy about it since it appear as Fidel was still in control and not Raul.
    So they may have gone as to agree between themselves not to interfere with each other.
    Does anyone else gets this same impression?

  • Apparently the work force in Cuba is about 5.1 million all government workers they are planning to layoff about 1 million that is about a 20 percent unemployment rate! They have no other choice but to let this people fence for themselves.
    In other occasions they have allowed some wiggle room for people but the soon suffocate any private initiative that gets to far in their view. This lucky million out of government work may end up producing more than the remaining 4 millions if they are allow and not suffocated again with a very heavy and burdensome tax.
    Cubans are not stupid. If they think the regime is tricking them into a situation where they end up loosing they will not go for it and the situation will be even worst. Is kind of like a cat and mouse game with the regime.
    In any successful society there has to be an appropriate mix of public (government jobs) and private sector jobs. Too much of one or too little of the other causes economic problems.
    Assuming this group of people are successful on private employment they will raise their own standard of living and with the help of the taxes the government should be able to raise the standard of living for the rest. Still the numbers do not add up. I am assuming this is just the first wave they may add to this more layoff later depending on how this wave of layoff and self employment goes. More than 50 percent of the working force should be in private employment. Public employment should be reduce to just teachers , police, military and medical care. Even some of those should also be private. Private education and private medical care should also be allow.
    The dual currency issue could be eliminated by making the CUC part of the normal cuban currency system. Instead of being call CUC they will be just pesos but of higher denominational value. This will be necesary as long as the peso is a devalued currency unless there is a plan to give value back to the peso something is hard to foresee.
    Now if this one million start to really produce and make money then there is a chance of a little bit of inflation showing of unless there is an opening of Cuba to the international markets specially the US. So hopefully it is likely that the Cuban regime will put some of their rhetoric aside and try to mend relations with the US.

  • When “socialism” has been implemented schematically and ham-fistedly with BIG, big strategic mistakes of long-standing, there is really no alternative but to retreat to some form of “mixed economy” which many people would be more comfortable with, in the interim — socialism being a transitional state between capitalism and communism, after all. And certainly there simply are not enuff resources available for true socialist relations to exist in any countries but the advanced imperialist ones, at this point in time (ironic, no?). But simply allowing the (re-)formation of petit-bourgeois business practice in certain distressed sectors in Cuba doesn’t show much more insight either, AFAIC (and I wonder how much of the ‘chinese model’ of capitalism the cuban leadership has in mind here…) Where are the collective businesses of self-actuating councils and communes here, for instance? All I see in this announcement is a retreat — which could easily become a rout — if the government does not keep its wits about it. But if the cuban government knew what it was doing then, it would have already begun to devolve power away from its unaccountable, unelected bureaucracy and one-Party State apparatus, towards the masses of the citizenry.

    And where is any of this — necessary, urgent — possibility even on the agenda? For the cuban regime to head in the direction of the venezuelan ‘model’ — not a good idea at all — would be tantamount to an admission that it has failed in its goal of introducing socialism to the impoverished Island of Cuba,

    So what’s really going on here? A quick descent into “social-democracy” — i.e. de facto capitalism?

  • Any “dissident” who ‘de facto’ worx with U.S. imperialism or its agents is indeed a counter-revolutionary. Is this not clear enuff? The only question concerning a socialist government here is how to deal with such people. And at worst, the cuban government appears to have dealt with these people far more leniently than have the stalinist regimes elsewhere, historically. Frankly: what is the alternative to expelling them to Miami, other than to continually hound them: which then allows them to play the martyr — a rôle which the agents of imperialism are well-equipped to play, with their wealth of experience in Eastern Europa, and with the recent “color revolution” co-optation fraud..?

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