Inactivity, closures and a preference for the private
Rogelio Manuel Diaz Moreno
HAVANA TIMES – The midyear session of the Cuban Parliament has ended, amid resounding fanfare over the macroeconomic successes – successes that no one from below perceives. The official media rejoice over the proclaimed growth in the Gross Domestic Product and massively forget the criticisms aimed at this indicator as a terrible measure of social progress.
A participant as committed as Francisco Rodriguez Cruz observes impatiently how more and more time goes by without bringing to fruition any legislative projects of real significance. The “Paquito el de Cuba” blog reviews the topics that have been pending for years: The Family Code, the Penal Code, a new Electoral Law, a Law of Police Functions, another for State Enterprises, for Cooperatives, for Water, for the Movie Industry, for Gender Identity, among others. Some of these drafted bills have been gathering dust for years on end, while others don’t even seem to have any defined prospects.
Inflation is low, production is growing, the economists rejoice. Meanwhile, the salaried workers of the State with their modest wages despair over the uncontainable rises in food prices. Promises that the productive growth would bring them down remain unfulfilled. Put simply, the unilateral analyses leave to one side the fact that certain sectors bring in and move more money. Social inequalities increase, but this doesn’t receive one millimeter of space in the deliberations of the parliamentarians.
The company decisions in Cuba dance to the tune of the good and well-known customs of the “normal” world. For the enterprises that can’t realize a profit under the current system of management – off to bankruptcy, or to closure. Several dozen State enterprises, it was announced, will be liquidated, and there are more waiting in the wings. Of course, the Government would have liked a foreign capitalist to rescue them, but that group doesn’t want to take on this type of complication.
They’ve been unable to find an adequate word with respect to the situation the workers will be left in: available? Unemployed? No one can be observed suggesting the truly revolutionary option: to recognize those people’s right to organize themselves with the means of production in their hands and to form an autonomous collective with the opportunity to move forward. This would allow them to establish their own mechanisms for production and distribution, forming alliances and relationships with other productive collectives and with the community. Such collectives have been constituted in capitalist countries such as Argentina when confronted with similar situations involving factories being closed by their former owners.
One of the most eloquent signals of the change in eras was given by Commander Ramiro Valdes. It came in a commission that was discussing the topic of construction and housing. As Valdes recognized: “The available housing is ever more deteriorated and the plan for construction is still low.” So what’s the solution that they see up there? “The solution lies in individual effort.”
Not long ago I heard the announcer Serrano from the National Television News declare that “private initiative improves the quality of services.” Such words cast into the air are not so easy to recover, but now it’s right there in the pages of the official website “Cubadebate” so that I can’t lie about it. They clearly do not aspire towards policies for collective solutions.
The government continues along the path of “everyone sort it out however they can,” even for problems as severe as that of housing. If you’re a modest employee of the State, like the majority of the local citizenry, you receive a salary of 20 to 30 dollars a month when the cost of a modest home is never under 15 thousand. You can barely feed yourself and your family badly with the salary you receive and now here comes the minister of the Economy, Marino Murillo to repeat that we should forget about any raises in salaries.
What message are they sending? Sadly, many will perceive that their “individual efforts” will only allow them to find solutions in other countries. And, in general, “individual effort,” “private initiative,” continue to be the key words used to stimulate the capitalist reforms in progress.
Once again, it’s evident that the State today has turned to the mechanisms and common ideologies of the capitalist way of doing things. For that reason, way up there, they’re so happy with that growth of the GDP; for that reason, they don’t feel the fact that prices rise; for that reason, they order a lay-off of the excess labor force; and for that reason, they dispatch the people to put things in order “through their own efforts”.