How to Break the Chains on Cuba’s Economy

Pedro Campos

HAVANA TIMES — The extremely low growth of Cuba’s GDP during the first half of the year (0.6 %), acknowledged by the government, has revealed that the reform measures aimed at stimulating the economy are inadequate and prompted more and more criticisms among the country’s economists.

In addition, the number of Cubans entering the United States through the Mexican border or risking their lives in the Strait of Florida to reach this country is harrowing. According to data from the US Immigration Service, 14 thousand Cubans have crossed the Mexican border and 2 thousand have been captured in the high seas by the US Coast Guard over the past 12 months – record figures for this last five-year period.

These facts, coupled with the island’s aging and dwindling population, should be enough to invite those interested in pushing the Cuban economy forward, particularly those currently responsible for “steering” it, to think about the need for implementing other types of measures. One cannot expect to get different results by doing the same things over and over again.

President Raul Castro, the top figures of the “reform process” and many Cuban economists have acknowledged the need to unleash the country’s productive forces. If a survey were conducted, the vast majority of Cuban citizens would probably also be in favor of this. The question, then, is what is the leadership waiting for.

Freeing up the country’s productive forces, however, implies free trade in the broad sense of the term, and that is something the bureaucracy does not approve of, because it would undermine its control over the market. The recent Customs regulations that came into effect, aimed at preserving the State-military monopoly in the clothing, footwear and appliances market, made this clear.

The proposals below are a contribution to the current debate surrounding the poor economic results achieved this year. Were they implemented in their entirety, they would work to bolster production, increase the availability of high-demand products in the domestic market, free up exchange among the country’s different forms of production, stimulate monetary circulation, increase the purchasing power of Cuban pesos and citizens, lower prices and place the economy under the control of the general citizenry.

These are fourteen keys needed to open the locks that currently keep Cuba’s productive forces in chains and depress the country’s economy.

1. Free the domestic market of all current restrictions, controls and prices set by ACOPIO (the state farm products purchasers) and other bureaucratic entities. Let cheese produced in the province of Camaguey be sold freely in Havana and all types of establishments for the sale of farm, industrial and craft products, or offering different services, be set up, applying a basic tax on these. Prices ought to be decided on the basis of an agreement between sellers and buyers.

2. Lift all restrictions on access to the foreign market, such that any Cuban wishing to import or export a given product, be it for personal or commercial reasons, may do so without being subjected to too many control mechanisms or steep taxes.

3. Modify the current tax policy, which restricts the growth of the self-employed sector, and limit its application to profits (not to incomes pure and simple, as is the current practice).

4. Allow all professionals, including medical doctors, architects, engineers and others, to become self-employed.

5. Lift restrictions on the creation of autonomous cooperatives of every kind and eliminate bureaucratic hurdles and taxes for these for the first three years of operations. Those wishing to set up a cooperative should only be required to submit a letter of incorporation with the basic information about the company’s capital, members and acceptance of the internationally accepted cooperative principles.

6. Make it possible for international organizations to make loans and provide machinery and equipment directly to cooperatives, taking as a starting poing the principle that cooperativism is the soul of socialism.

7. Allow State companies to be managed by workers, with full autonomy to buy, sell and receive credits, such that worker collectives become empowered to choose the management, organize and control administrative mechanisms and distribute part of the profits among members, after setting aside the sums needed to reproduce the means of production and pay taxes.

8. Transfer ownership, or offer credit to purchase through installments, the lands made available to small farmers, such that these feel a degree of security to make long-term investments in housing, warehouses, irrigation systems, land improvements, machine purchases and others. Remove the obligatory requirement of having to join a credit and service cooperative, which in actuality is a State mechanism for controlling harvests and the sale of products.

9. Establish regulations for private companies that exploit salaried labor, with a view to guaranteeing that workers enjoy rights, part of the company’s profits (in addition to their monthly salaries), collective employment contracts, the right to create free trade unions that will defend their interests, social security payments, paid holydays, 40-hour work weeks, overtime payments, transportation and worker cafeterias offering products at low prices and other facilities workers may require.

10. Freedom to advertise products, actively search for customers and sources of raw materials, both in Cuba and abroad (through high-speed Internet and freedom of a commercial press).

11. Eliminate the two-currency system once and for all and establish exchange rates that make for a more favorable relationship between the Cuban pesos and international hard currencies.

12. The State should cease to manage companies, except basic service providers (such as water and electricity), and these should pay their employees a part of the profits, in addition to monthly stipends. The incomes of the State, province and municipality should come from taxes, to be applied in a transparent fashion at all levels and controlled by base-level mechanisms and through regular reports to citizens.

13. Health and education should continue to be subsidized by the State, which is to guarantee health and education for all. Health professionals, however, should be allowed to create individual or collective clinics, to be administered by medical collectives, and to set up practices and even minor surgical hospitals. Groups of teachers should also be permitted to create schools, to be administered by the staff that, in addition to teaching the syllabus established by the Ministry of Education, may incorporate complementary or specialized programs. Such clinics and schools would charge for their services on the basis of an agreement with their clients and would pay taxes on their profits.

14. The decentralization of power, currently concentrated in the State, from the control of taxes, through the creation and administration of budgets, to the control of local police forces, justice and others, strictly necessary for the autonomous functioning of communities.

These and other measures aimed at freeing the economy, socializing it and bringing it under the control of citizens, with a view to democratizing society, as freedom of expression and association, the separation of powers and the direct and democratic election of all public officials also aim to do, should be implemented without much delay to avoid a greater catastrophe. A broad, nationwide democratic debate that can open the way to a new and dearly needed constitution is also something we no longer postpone.

What of the US blockade/embargo? The direct and indirect contribution of this policy to Cuba’s stagnation have already been expounded on elsewhere, but, as its lifting does not depend on us Cubans, it is best to concentrate on those things we can tear down here: the internal blockade that hinders the development of a people’s economy. Perhaps without this internal blockade, the other will collapse of its own weight.
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Photos: Elio Delgado Valdes

 

 


36 thoughts on “How to Break the Chains on Cuba’s Economy

  • December 3, 2014 at 11:30 am
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    Maybe the burocracy fully accepts that there is lack of oversight & control & is also aware that it’s ability to control overall corruption has been lost. This could be why they are abandoning certain economic sectors & taxing revenue rather than profit as this would guarantee that retail prices will already have a premium built into them that will reflect cost to the vendor + taxes +- market demand, regardless if products are stolen from the state or purchased from it somehow. Taxing gross revenue will net the largest possible tax bill for the government & After all, if I understand properly, there is no official wholesale market & Cuba is still an island. EFFICIENT co-ops & state entities should be easily able to dominate in this environment. Taxing revenue will also allow the revenue branch to do an end-run around the broken distribution system (Although this c-a-n have the effect of institutionalizing corruption). While taxing profit rather than revenue does allow for more rapid capital expansion, I think that such is not a desired outcome. Anybody knows that a plural economy is better than one dominated by monopolistic entities (state entities notwithstanding in Cuba) & inflated expenses are easily a way to subvert taxation as I see it all around me. My guess that auditing the vendors would allow the state to just take back self-employment ventures where under-reporting of income is found/assumed, or to simply remove them from the system by not renewing their licenses (should the state decide to be more benevolent). In Canada the government can confiscate all business properties & personal assets accumulated by the owners based upon GOVERNMENT estimates of what the profits actually probably have been. This is all done through the tax courts & I have a very successful friend that is very aware of this. He overstates his income so that every time he is audited the government ends up owing HIM money. He has been audited twice & now they leave him alone! BTW, most market economies are simply levying consumption taxes at the retail level these days & are addicted to them. I’ll stop my leftist postings if I am way out to lunch somewhere here in my meek understandings of the unique “dance process” I refer to as “Cubanomics”.

  • September 26, 2014 at 10:41 pm
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    Mr. Ed Miliband, leader of the British Labour Party visited Scotland and expressed his opposition to the YES campaign. If the YES voters had won the referendum then the “they” to whom you refer would have had no say. “They” would not have pulled out, Salmond and the Scottish Nationalist Party would have forced them out. The leaders of the Trade Unions in Scotland made it very clear that they were opposed to separation.
    You are correct in saying that government employees in the UIK (military, bureaucrats, police) are not supposed to comment upon politics and similarly neither does the Queen and members of the Royal family. The Queen’s position as Head of State in Scotland would have been unaffected. Similarly Scotland would have remained a member of the Commonwealth. It would have had to negotiate is position with the EU.
    You are incorrect about business people, industrialists and trade unionists, all of whom along with employees and members have a perfect democratic right to express their viewpoint. That Dani is called democracy.

  • September 26, 2014 at 4:42 pm
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    Dani, first let me agree with yoiu about agricultural subsidies in Europe or indeed elsewhere. Their is always talk in agricultural circles about the need for “a level playing field” but in reality that is the last thing sought. If subsidies ceased, production would continue and each commodity would be produced where it is most economical. The subsidies are a consequence of government planning – by all different political parties. Subsidies do not necessarily lead to increased or more efficient production. Those highly subsidised cows in Europe are not more productive in consequence. Cuba has few farms – the odd exceptions being cooperatives. In general 3 or 4 acres is all that the so-called ‘farmers” can look after. I know about efficient productive agriculture and it just cannot be done on 3-4 acres. I am not taliking about the large acreage grain farmers of the prairies whoim I have described publicly in the past as “Triple A farmers” – “April, August and Arizona.” Cultivate in April, sow in May, harvest in August and then go off to Arizona.
    The problem you speak of regarding prices and the Cuban consumer reflects the dificulties inherent in a political system that tries to control everything. Markets are subject to a wide variety of pressures. Maybe the regime could increase the monthly handouts from 500 pesos to 700 per capita. But on the other hand one could to use Martin Luther’s phrase, “let freedom reign.”
    Certainly, were the Government of Cuba to seek my professional advice, I would first form a panel of about six recognized high ability farmers from different parts of the world, to assess and advise upon the formation of farms of sufficient size to be integrated livestock/crop businesses, managed by imported managers accustomed to market pressures. labour relations and profit. Of necessity in Cuba these would have to be termed “cooperatives” and the land would have to remain owned by the State. But who owns the land is not significant, what matters is who farms it!
    Amongst those six in my mind, are one who is CEO of a vegetable growing business that having commenced in 1965, now farms over 180,000 acres of vegetables and potatoes on land in England, Scotland, Poland, the Czech Republic and Spain. Another is a member of a family that has well over 500 Jersey cows (high butterfat) on their farm and manufactures all of it on farm into ice cream.
    Way back when, Fidel Castro employed Dr. Reg Preston from the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen to start a beef production program and establish an instructional college. Little did he know that Preston was the source of humour in Scottish beef producing circles because although trying to turn the cow into a pig, his few experimental animals tasted awful. By turning a cow intoi a pig I should explain that the cow as a ruminant can break down the cellulose in forage, whereas the pig is a single gut animal like ourselves. Preston fed his experimental animals on barley. Flavour disappeared! After about vfive years, Preston left for the US but the remnants of his agricultural station remain some 25 km east of Havana.
    Another of Fidel’s concepts was in 1989. He declared that within five years there would be 150 new dairy farms in the Province of Sancti Spiritus. Nothing happened.
    Well you asked for some practical proposals and set me ticking.
    I would add something else. The people I have in mind would contribute their valuable brain power for expenses only. Without exception they answer to challenge!
    Yes I have deep agricultural experience bbehind me and when a European was quoted in the American Journal of Animal Science – not about animals, but about the people who work with them.
    On a final note, I do not imagine for a moment that this makes any difference to our respective political views, but it is I hope stimulating.

  • September 26, 2014 at 6:28 am
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    Carlyle. I think carefully what I write. My comments are a mixture of response to Pedro’s original post and the sort of thing I would do. The fact that you think they are imaginative I take as a complement.
    If you read my comments properly, you would have seen that I said that the planning needed to come from farmers themselves. Also you aren’t correct regarding prices. Farmers are currently able to set their own prices for produce above that sold to the government. This isn’t ideal but if the government moved immediately to market led prices the cost of food would sky-rocket beyond the reach of a lot of Cubans (the trouble with a lot of the commentators here is that they can’t see any consequences to any change).
    I can’t see what is so outrageous about the government providing grants and subsidies to encourage production. The EU subsidise every cow more than the average persons wage in the third world.
    Again other than sneering, I don’t see what is so outrageous or what you have against setting up an ombudsman and consumer watchdogs. Rather than this extreme negativity, you come up with some practical proposals.

  • September 26, 2014 at 6:00 am
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    There is a sort of unwritten law in the UK that people who hold power and responsibility such as top bureaucrats, chief of police, army commanders, captains of industry and the queen don’t publicly pronounce on political issues. And there are good reasons why this is in place. But in this case it was far worse.
    You and Griffin are under the misapprehension that they were simply expressing an opinion. They threatened to pull out of Scotland if the vote went against them (without any thought for the wishes of the workforce) . If things had been the other way round and a trade union leader threatened to bring public transport to a halt if the Scottish people voted no, I bet you two would be the first to complain of blackmailing the electorate.

  • September 24, 2014 at 7:36 pm
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    To quote Dani:
    “There is a case for some planning within agriculture otherwise farmers can overproduce some products and under produce others and to know how much needs to be imported.”
    There speaks the socialist thinker.
    The Castro family regime has been planning Cuba’s agricultural production for fifty five years. The consequences have been ever decreasing production and ever increasing imports.
    “Grants and incentives from the central government” ie: the regime. The possibility of Socialismo taking such action is zero. The regime currently determines the prices at which agricultural products may be sold.
    In consequence those “farmers” with only 3 or 4 acres which is about 25% of the acreages operated by European peasant farmers, are loath to produce more than is necessary for survival as the prices often do not meet the cost of production. A free market although obviously necessary if production is to increase is counter to socialist beliefs.
    Hundreds of thousands of acres of good agricultural land lie dormant and are reverting to bush. Cuba is in many respects an outdoor greenhouse where tomatoes for example can easily be field grown, no need for expensive greenhouses. But enter the government shops where shelves of canned tomatoes from Spain and even the much abused USA are displayed because there is a shortage of production in Cuba.
    “Advertising has no beneficial effect whatsoever. It is brainwashing of the worst kind, a complete waste of money and a human rights abuse.”
    This is the best description I have read or heard of the only advertising permitted in Cuba. Those huge hoardings that litter both urban and rural areas promoting Socialismo,The Five, Los Ideas and with the brother dictatators smiling down benevolently at their abject subjects. Absolutely a human rights abuse!
    Mention of Cuba and an ombudsman in the same contribution is really laughable.
    It demonstrates an imagination of the highest quality. Since when did the Castro family regime paying a monthly pension of $8 have any consideration to “safeguard the consume”?
    When next you Dani think of expressing opinions about Cuba. THINK FIRST!

  • September 24, 2014 at 2:31 pm
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    The Scottish referendum was not lost it was won. Commercial businesses both small and large were in general NO supporters. Opposing the right of businesses to express an opinion is typical of those who wish to restrict freedom. It would be a silly Scot who did not voice opinion when it was important for the future of their country.
    The fact is that the YES vote was defeated by the NO vote and that everybody had equal say – one person, one vote.
    I understand that socialist thinkers are opposed to freedom of thought and action, but in democratic countries they just have to lump it!
    We who are opposed to socialism believe in the rights of citizens, not just the rights of nations. We believe in liberty and the rule of law. We also believe that the future of our children and grandchildren will be greater if others children have prosperity.
    We have a shared belief in the future of human freedom and human dignity.
    That is why we oppose Socialismo and dictatorship in Cuba.

  • September 23, 2014 at 8:53 pm
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    Socialism,
    Conservationism, Liberalism, Neo-liberalism, Communism, Maoism, Social
    Democracy, Christian Democracy, Fascism, Anarchism, are political doctrines
    more or less grounded in different philosophical streams. By other side Capitalism
    is the name given, to the only existing economical system.

    In other words, there is only an economical system: Market Economy or
    Capitalism. There is no more economical system in this world despite the effort
    of some philosophers and politician to make us to believe they found a new
    economical system that will make us all happy for ever. If you try to find
    another economical system you will find nothing but political doctrines.

    All those above named political doctrines have to use capitalism as economical
    system because they have no economical system of their own. Some of the
    politician and philosopher that have tried to make us believe their found a new
    economical system has used a lot of tricks to disguise capitalism and present
    it to us as a new thing. They has tried to abort capitalism, change it, destroy
    it or redesign it but at the end they have to get back and resuscitate the
    capitalism because if not the grotesque being they created would die economically and of course would die
    as doctrine, as political system. That’s why we see the former Soviet Union,
    China, Vietnam and Cuba get married with the international capital and foment a
    wild capitalism in their countries in order of surviving.

  • September 23, 2014 at 8:30 pm
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    The economics of an independent Scotland are a serious concern which anybody doing business in Scotland had a right and a duty to comment on.

    From my perspective in Canada, the election of the PQ in Quebec and their two referenda on independence has had a powerfully negative effect on the Quebec economy. It was not just big evil corporations who reacted against Quebec separation, as hundreds of thousands of ordinary anglophone Quebec residents voted with their feet and left the province.

    I endorse the idea of the UK moving to a federal system, similar to Canada’s. Devolution of powers to Scotland, and Wales, Cornwall & Northern Island, is a positive change.

  • September 23, 2014 at 2:27 pm
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    The two main reasons why the referendum was lost was as follows. The Westminster parties in a panic came out and offered more power for Scotland at the last minute thereby taking some of the wavering votes even though they had refused to allow devo-max to be considered in the referendum. Some big banks and retailers blackmailed the electorate by saying they would pull out of an independent Scotland. This was the worst kind of scare tactics and shows the sinister power of big corporations.

  • September 23, 2014 at 2:17 pm
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    Another great post with many good arguments. I have a few points of discussion. There is a case for some planning within agriculture otherwise farmers can overproduce some products and under produce others and to know how much needs to be imported. But this needs to be done by the farmers themselves with maybe some grants and incentives from central government.

    I’m not sure it is a good idea to allow private doctors otherwise there is a danger it creates a two tier system, unless there are some areas that can be considered luxury or outside the main health system.

    I’m against allowing foreign organizations complete freedom to invest in the country as it will mean that they gain control and in the end asset strip the country. It would be better to create community based enterprise boards that ousiders can invest in which then support cooperatives and the self employed. Also it would be good to look at things like crowd funding which cuts out the capitalist completely (sorry Moses).

    Ownership and management are different things. I would avoid individual ownership of the land as this will end up with Donahue getting every beachfront property. A better way would be something like the crofting system whereby the farmer has use of the land for life and can pass on to descendents but can only sell back to the community.

    Number 10 I really disagree. Advertising has no beneficial effect whatsoever. It is brainwashing of the worst kind, a complete waste of money and is a human rights abuse. You need to realize that the company I work for now has to fork out half its budget on advertising to keep up with the competition. I would ban it altogether except for example websites that show eating establishments in a town or the latest gagets and companies of course would have their own website.

    Number 12 you have one side of the issue ie giving the workers a greater stake, but things like watchdogs and ombudsmen need to be set up to safeguard the consumer. It is interesting how mobile phone companies were forced to back down from overpricing international services by the communications watchdog and if you make a complaint to the financial ombudsman regarding a financial service they have to fork out £1,000 per complaint whatever the decision. As you can imagine any mention of the ombudsman and these companies move.

    Finally I agree regarding the blockade. It is best if Cubans completely ignore it and make their own decisions.

  • September 23, 2014 at 8:47 am
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    The Scottish referendum allowed only two answers: Yes or No. By definition, one side or the other would get a majority.

    Parliamentary elections allow many answers: Conservative, Labour, Liberal, Lib-Dem, SNP, Social Dems, Greens, UKIP, Plaid Cymru, a dozen fractious Communist parties, and the Monster Raving Loony Party. That’s why full majority popular votes are rare.

    Again my point is, and your comment supports it, many people voted Yes because they were promised Free Stuff. Saner heads prevailed.

    I do agree with you, a federated UK would be a better arrangement than the current system run from Westminster. It works reasonably well for Canada.

  • September 22, 2014 at 10:41 pm
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    The reason that the left voted YES was that Salmond promised even more social programs than Westminster. The usual old cradle to grave rubbish. My point was that the percentage of Scots voting NO at 55% was greater than the percentage in other democratic countries has been in electing governments – even including the great Dief! But equally, I would contest the view that it was welfare that dominated the thinking of the NO voters.Friends recall that way back in my student days, I was advocating that the UK should federate, with England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each having their own Legislative body. Westminster being totally overloaded with adjournment taking place as late as 6.00 a.m. and re-commencing at 10.00 a.m.. It was necessary in consequence for Members to have a bed to rest their befuddled minds within the distance pemitted by the ten minute bell calling them for a division (vote). It was ridiculous that all 630 MPs should consider a dam in Wales or a road in Scotland. Westminster should have been responsible for defence, foreign affairs and national finance. Internal affairs in each of the member countries being decided in their own legislative body. Slowly but oh so slowly they are getting there. They have yet to consider a Legislative body for the English in York, but they may even eventually think of that!
    As an addendum, who first used the words “One Canada” and who stopped Canadians from accepting awards in the British Honours LIst? The answer in each case is John Diefenbeker. He entitled his book “One Canada”. When Conrad Black accepted a seat in the British House of Lords. Chretien invoked law brought in by Diefenbeker to remove Black’s citizenship.

  • September 22, 2014 at 9:39 pm
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    Yes, of course….. there is free health and education in almost all Latin american countries…… high quality health and education compared with Cuba……. and no criminal tyranny for 5 decades was needed to have it.

  • September 22, 2014 at 8:32 pm
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    Carlyle,

    Forgive me for yanking your chain, my comment was intended as a bit of a tease. However, your comment,

    “…it was the left wing socialist minded Scots who voted YES and that the better educated – and they as explained are the majority who voted NO.”

    …basically proves my point. The Scots on the dole (who tend to vote Left) voted Yes, the Scots who have jobs (and who understand the value of a hard day’s work) voted No. The hard working Scots would be damned if they were to be stuck carrying the welfare load on their own.

    Yes, yes, yes, the Scots of centuries past had some great thinkers. To be sure, there are even some great Scottish economists today (Niall Ferguson, for one).

    In 1980, Brian Mulroney’s PC’s won 50.3% of the vote, and before that in 1958 Diefenbaker took 53.67%. While rare, winning a full majority of the popular vote is not unheard of. But I’m not sure what your point was?

    PS: As a typical Canadian, I have a fair bit of Scots in my background, by the way.

  • September 22, 2014 at 6:46 pm
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    “half the Scotts (sic) did not vote YES in the referendum. there was a difference of 400,000 in the vote in favour of NO.
    So, apart from your gross inaccuracy you know naught of the Scots! Cameron is a Scottish name!

  • September 22, 2014 at 6:38 pm
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    The so-called Cuban Five were agents of the Cuban Intelligence Service headed by Alejandro Castro Espin. They in consequence fully merit the term “spies”. The Castro family regime likes to promote the concept that for it’s agents to pursue their craft in MIami is acceptable, but that for the US to take similar action outside the boundaries of the US is criminal.
    Spying – irrespective of which country is pursuing it, is a crime.
    Glad you are reading Adam Smith and hope you will in future follow his teachings.

  • September 22, 2014 at 6:27 pm
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    Griffin you are way way off! Firstly let me inform you – in case you are unaware of Scots history, that the Scottish Enlightenment with such luminaries as Hutchings (Glasgow University) Hume and Adam Smith (Edinburgh University) and Reid (Aberdeen University) was the forerunner of the European Enlightenment.
    It was Reid who was Professor of Philosophy at Aberdeen who was the originator of the phrase that has entered day-to-day use in the English language – “common sense”.
    The four ancient Scottish Universities of St. Andrew’s, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh were all established by 1500. By that time England had two although the population was nine times that of Scotland.
    In 1697, the Scottish Parliament passed an Act that every Parish in Scotland had to have a school and that education was free. In 1875 England made education available to all.
    The main thoroughfare in Aberdeen is Union Street, other streets include George Street, Albert Street and Victoria Street. This in a city with 1,000 years of history! In the First World War, Scotland lost more soldiers per capita of the population than any other country and they were volunteers!
    Educated Scots made immense contributions to other countries. The first Principal of the first University in the US Princeton, was a Scot.
    If you care to analyse the results of the Scottish referendum, you will observe that it was the areas particularly affected by the industrial revolution that voted “Yes”.Glasgow, North Lanark and Dundee. They are the heartland of Scottish socialism and trade unions.
    Historically Scotland has a history of small “l” liberal thinking. Equality is the basis of its Presbyterian religion. There is no heirarchal system in the Church of Scotland, the Moderator is elected for two years and then reverts to his former position. Scotland at large because of its educational history does not have the resentment factor so evident in English Society that education is associated with privilege.
    The names of British Prime Ministers in my lifetime include Gladstone, MacMillan, MacDonald, Hume, Cameron. All Scottish names.
    Alex Salmond’s constituency is East Aberdeenshire, his main challenger at the last election was a personal friend of mine – who also just happened to be Rector of the University of Aberdeen. At the referendum, East Aberdeenshire voted 60% NO – 40% YES.
    Salmond allowed everybody aged 16 and older to vote. 73% of the 16 to 18 year old age group voted YES. a reflection of the excitement Salmond created with his pipe bands and flag waving.
    I say all this Griffin to allow you to see that it was the left wing socialist minded Scots who voted YES and that the better educated – and they as explained are the majority who voted NO.
    Finally, in Western Parliamentary democracies I do not know of a single occasion when the elected Government had a majority of voters. Canada for example usually elects its Government by about 37-38% of the vote.

  • September 22, 2014 at 2:31 pm
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    It remains true, every Cuban-American in congress is against lifting the embargo. That goes for Democrats as well as Republicans. Contrary to these ginned up polls rodrigvm referred to, there is no ground swell of anti-embargo opinion among Cuban-Americans.

  • September 22, 2014 at 2:24 pm
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    Please give an example of a “social democracy”. which is “not pure capitalist”. Do you or do you not mean socialist? You say that “Ideology is really something”. No doubt you will agree that the ideology that is predominently discussed in these columns is socialism.
    The socialist view is that it is unreasonable of people to wish to retain the bulk of the money they earn. That doing so is selfish. The State should tax that money away.
    “You want to own shares in the business you work for?”
    “We can’t have that, the State has to own the company.”
    Socialists just do not feel comfortable with freedom. Socialists want the State to take more and more of the decisions which impact upon your life and happiness!
    Socialism is not just about economics. Its ideology is to make the State the ultimate authority for the whole of life. It is based on coercion. It denies the dignity of people. It is a secular creed bound for utter failure.
    Those are the reasons why millions of people under the dreadful imposed socialism of the USSR raised a cry now echoed by tens of thousands of Cubans suffering the Socialismo of the Castro family regime dictatorship:
    WE WANT TO GET OUT!

  • September 22, 2014 at 8:19 am
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    The wide ranging proposals Pedro advances would do much to improve the Cuban economy and the life of the average Cuban. Real reforms such as these would convince young Cuban people that they have a future in Cuba, instead of driving them out of the country in record numbers.

    I wish Pedro good luck.

  • September 22, 2014 at 8:14 am
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    The reason the Scots decided to stay in the UK is they realized they couldn’t afford to pay for the welfare state on their own. They needed the wealth of Tory England to pay the taxes that the large Scottish welfare sector lives off of.

  • September 22, 2014 at 8:01 am
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    The poll you referred to was a bogus study cooked up by pro-Castro groups in the US. Cuban American politicians, whether Republican or Democrat, support keeping the embargo in place. Robert Menendez is chairman of the foreign relations committee and a strong opponent of the Castro regime.

    Could you please drop the slur “Miami mafia” when referring to Cuban-Americans? It is offensive, ignorant and does nothing to enhance your weak arguments.

  • September 22, 2014 at 7:54 am
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    No country has a free health care system. Any health care system costs money to operate. The Cuban system is funded by the government, which levees an effective tax rate of 95% on the Cuban worker. That does not sound like “free” to me.

  • September 22, 2014 at 6:53 am
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    Castro sycophants like you really don’t understand what freedom means. Adam Smith’s version of capitalism is antiquated. He could not have imagined internet sales across international boundaries or intellectual property rights for American movies viewed abroad just as an example. Capitalism has been forced to evolve as a result. As a die-hard capitalist, I feel no compulsion to abide by the strictures of Adam Smith’s version. Socialists on the other hand quibble among yourselves regarding what is “true socialism”. For capitalists it is much easier, ‘buy low, sell high’. Keep it simple. The five convicted Cuban spies absolutely committed crimes. You may choose to forget but I am reminded that their 7 comrades who were also part of the Wasp Network, gave eyewitness testimony and plead guilty to lesser crimes. The fairness of the trials for the 5 spies who did not take deals and the harshness of their sentences is up for debate but there is no doubt surrounding their guilt. By the way, even if every one of the roughly 500,000 young Cubans eligible to vote were to agree to Congress voting to repeal Helms-Burton, it would still not be enough political cover for Congress to vote to support Castro communism. What happens to US/Cuban relations has little to do with Miami demographics and more to do with whether or not a Castro is still in charge in Cuba.

  • September 21, 2014 at 2:46 pm
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    MR Patterson. to you. happens just like capitalists of state, that call themselves socialists, confused market socialism. To You and your arch enemies, capitalism is on the market and not on salaried relations of exploitation and they and you see socialism on state control over everything, including the market, and not in the relations of production of self-management type, the free labor, associated or not.

  • September 21, 2014 at 10:59 am
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    You should read Adam Smith and the most recent iterations, he would jump from his grave if he read your description of a capitalist country. Look if aspects of socialism are good, why not implement it completely? If the US stopped spying, subverting, imprisoning Cubans who did not commit crimes (los Cincos now three) and ended the stupid economic blockade Cuba could improve its economic and political standing. Thank god that as recent polls show young Cuban Americans are joining the Democrat party and against the blockade, I guess all we need to do is wait a few years until the Miami mafia goes to the next dimension.

  • September 21, 2014 at 10:54 am
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    Again, you seem confused, social democracies are not pure capitalist and thanks to a strong labor movement achieved certain socialist measures. When having the opportunity of following in their footsteps the us created the boondoggle of ACA instead of a single payer system or expanding medicare to all. Ideology is really something. You also know many of these countries are being pushed to dismantle some of their socialized programs. One reason why half of the Scotts did not want to remain in the Tory UK.

  • September 20, 2014 at 8:40 pm
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    You are suffering from delusion rodrigvm. The US is almost alone in the caplitalist world in not having a national health care program. The first was in the UK introduced in 1948. EU countries, Australia, New Zealand, Canada all have health care programs. In the UK capitalist companies including ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries) and Unilever Ltd. had health care programs for employees in the thirties. The Castro family regime copied its program from those already existing in capitalist countries.
    For bjmack, I hope that you have studied carefully the conditions laid down by Congress for the lifting of the embargo. You will find it in the CDA (Cuban Democracy Act).
    Section 1708 (b) (3) of the CDA, 22 U.S.C. (section) 6007 (b) (3) directs the President to “take steps to end the United States trade embargo of Cuba when two conditions have been met.
    First that the President has made a determination, and reported to the Congress, that the Cuban government has taken five steps identified in (section) 1708(a) including
    the free and fair elections conducted under international supervision
    showing respect for the basic civil liberties and
    the human rights of the citizens of Cuba
    moving towards establishing a free market economic system and
    committing itself to constitutional change that would ensure free and fair elections
    Second that a Cuban government has been elected as a result of such free and fair elections.
    The CDA includes:
    “to maintain sanctions on the Castro regime as long as it continues to refuse to move towards democratization and greater respect for human rights.”
    Are there any of those conditions to which you are opposed?????
    I personally am now opposed to the embargo because it has failed over a period of approaching fifty five years and because i think it has become counter productive to US interests. But its objectives as defined above are admirable.

  • September 20, 2014 at 7:58 pm
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    All the EU countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand all have health care. In fact the USA is almost alone in the capitalist world in not having health care. One consequence is that 17.9% of GDP is spent on Health in the US. that compares with its next door neighbour Canada spending 10.8% of GDP on its Health Care Program. You rodrigvm are living n the dark and obviously unaware of what is happening out there. The UK introduced the first National Health Care program in the world in 1948. Prior to the Second World War, both ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries) and Unilever Ltd. two massive capitalist companies, introduced medical services for employees.
    Prior to bleating, ascertain your facts!

  • September 20, 2014 at 5:31 pm
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    Change will take time but progress is happening. First of all, I’m amazed at how many can post on this message board criticizing the Cuban government and its system but still be able to travel to Cuba. That goes for those bloggers who can now travel freely to the USA and continue to post for change. The fact remains that there’s a political system in the US that continues to prevent the embargo to be lifted and unless I spend a fortune and am restricted to where I can visit,
    prevents me from traveling and spending my capitalist earnings. Cuba just announced that most state restaurants will be privatized and that’s not my grandfathers communism. Contrary to a few who post, there are people, and
    I’m not writing about the powers at hand, in Cuba, who don’t want to go
    back to the “old days.” So that means compromise and perhaps Chinatize
    the country. I like your optimism Senor Campos!

  • September 20, 2014 at 2:59 pm
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    I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this but nothing in this world is free. Cubans pay through the nose for very poor quality health care.

  • September 20, 2014 at 12:53 pm
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    Capitalism doe not include free health care…

  • September 20, 2014 at 7:31 am
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    The impact of the trade sanctions is minimal. The impact of the “internal blockade”, that you correctly propose to break, is what will determine the growth of the Cuban economy and the well-being of the Cuban people.
    You are starting to see the light, Pedro.

  • September 19, 2014 at 2:46 pm
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    In short, adopt capitalism. Free the people and allow them to use their talents and abilities. Let them get out from under the yoke of a Socialismo dictatorship.

  • September 19, 2014 at 1:12 pm
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    By the time I read through each of the 14 recommendations, I thought we were talking about Sweden. If Pedro believes that these changes to the Cuban economy represent what will save Cuba from the dung hill of socialist countries that have come and gone, then he should come out of the closet and say what he really thinks. He has described an albeit highly-regulated capitalist economy. Say it again…C-A-P-I-T-A-L-I-S-T. Let’s face it…socialism sucks.

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