Parliamentary Smugness in Cuba 2015

Inactivity, closures and a preference for the private

Rogelio Manuel Diaz Moreno

The Cuban parliament.  Foto: cubadebate.cu

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.

President/General Raul Castro with his VP, Miguel Diaz Canel, and the powerful Communist Party No. 2 man, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura.  Photo: Ismael Francisco/cubadebate.cu

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.

There was much applause in the plenary session of the National Assembly.  Photo: Ismael Francisco/cubadebate.cu

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”.


33 thoughts on “Parliamentary Smugness in Cuba 2015

  • July 22, 2015 at 11:18 am
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    Yoani was clever enough to rapidly develop an international audience. The Castro family regime has had to strike a balance between locking her up with hundreds of others with similar dissident views and by so doing create international media attention at a time when rapprochement was in the offing (three years since the meetings commenced in Canada) or let her roam free but with harassment organized by the Communist Party of Cuba. They chose the latter.

  • July 21, 2015 at 9:35 pm
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    Yoani i Sanchez is who i’m referring to Carlyle. She is adamantly opposed to the present day regime and last I checked is still walking the streets of Havana. That’s all I can refer to.

  • July 21, 2015 at 8:41 pm
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    Communist is the name that the party that runs Cuba has chosen. Not a lot of communitarian decision making involved. The few decide for the many how production and distribution will be shared. Lacking individual buy in, this top down model fails to tap discretionary human potential. At preset all major industry is run by select officers appointed by the self named communist regime.

  • July 21, 2015 at 4:18 pm
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    Did you pay a lot for your harp Mr. Goodrich?

  • July 21, 2015 at 4:14 pm
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    Are those bloggers residents of Cuba or Cubans resident in the US.
    It is true that Cubans can in general obtain passports and the white paper that was necessary for them to actually leave the country, ceased in 2012. But most countries are resistant to giving them visas – for example my wife’s applications for a temporary resident visa to Canada were rejected five times.
    Do those bloggers – I refer to ones normally resident in Cuba use other than their legal names when blogging or not?
    Having actually seen the regimes computer file on my wife – the Security officer made a mistake – I can tell you that it is detailed proving how effective the CDR system is. It includes the date and place of our marriage.

  • July 21, 2015 at 4:02 pm
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    Still tediously banging your State Capitalism drum Mr. Goodrich?

  • July 21, 2015 at 3:58 pm
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    You can observe now Mr. Goodrich that you have joined with the Castro family regime in using the embargo as an excuse for their sins, errors, omissions and incompetence.
    Military intervention in 13 other countries was expensive both in financial and human terms. But that rather than the Cuban peoples needs was the Castro family regimes choice.
    Building up a military strength far beyond its needs (the US committed to non-military intervention to achieve the agreement with Kruschev to remove the nukes from Cuba).
    Building up a State Police of unnecessary strength. (Taking a taxi-particular from our home to Jose Marti Airport and leaving at 6.00 a.m., we were stopped four (4) times by the State Police en route.)
    I do not and have not supported US policies regarding Cuba. I have repeatedly deplored the embargo – although you love it. I deplore the Monroe Doctrine, the Platt Amendment (incidentally have you read the original 1902 Constitution of Cuba – I have. I forgot that not knowing Cuba you would not have been able to read it, but in case you ever go there you will find it in the north-east corner on the third floor of the Governor’s House at the Plaza d’Armas) and the Helms-Burton Amendment regarding them as counter to US interests.
    If you ever do get to Cuba, you will see the crumbling houses and the consequences of the neglect of the regime. GO LOOK!

  • July 20, 2015 at 6:52 pm
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    John, Air B n B in Cuba is just the beginning. Regarding unions, let me tell you a story. I was in a union, while a college student, who paid in full my tuition and lifestyle working 60 hours a week and during the summer almost 80,
    one of my jobs was setting up shows at the NY Coliseum. It was a family connection that got me this and on Saturday, while doing the luggage show,
    we had to wait over 24 hours for the electrician union member come in and plug in the lamps etc into the sockets. It could have been done in minutes but I got triple over time and the check was obscene. I couldn’t continue with this because it wasn’t right so went to bartending and was no longer in that union.
    Needless to say, a few years later, the Auto show moved from NYC because of excessive expenses due to the unions. My suggestion is to start a business and share your profits with your employees. It’s micro but a start.

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