Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES — One of the accusations made by some of those who criticize the Cuban Revolution is that it has not achieved what it promised.
Nonetheless, the Moncada Program — as outlined by Fidel Castro in his defense and published under the title History Will Absolve Me, which identified all of the ills afflicting the country at that time and promised that they would be eliminated — has been over fulfilled, despite all the obstacles erected by our country’s foreign and domestic enemies.
It’s true that mistakes have been committed, but none of them were ones of principle. The errors have been due to ignorance about how to build a society “with all and for the good of all,” as Marti dreamed.
It’s very easy to govern in a capitalist society, where the government serves only a decorative function: collecting taxes, paying its public employees little and implementing some public works of which half of the budgets are stolen by corrupt politicians.
Basic services provided to the public are in private hands in most of these countries, and those that are in the hands of the government lack adequate funding and function poorly.
Beginning January I, 1959, the revolutionary government began enacting laws to benefit the people. The Agrarian Reform Law gave land to about 100,000 small farmers who had worked land that wasn’t their own.
Prior to that, they — like feudal serfs — had to pay the land owners a portion of their crops and were under constant threat of eviction if that land was sold or if a higher paying tenant farmer was found. I myself was a victim of one of those evictions when I was just an 11-year-old boy.
The situation confronted by the revolutionary government in the Cuban countryside was one in which more than half of the best arable land was in foreign hands, while 200,000 campesino families didn’t have a square yard of land to plant though close to 10 million acres (around 4 million hectares) laid fallow.
On most of this land and other large farms that were expropriated, state-run farms were established, which provided a solution to unemployment in the countryside. At the time it seemed like the best alternative, however over time I realized that this was a mistake.
I believe that other than large agricultural concerns producing sugarcane, rice or livestock, small farmers should have been given ownership or use rights over the rest of the land. This would have allowed them to produce sufficient food for the rapidly growing population.
Also, agricultural workers began to seek alternative work in cities, and as the children of campesinos had opportunities to study whatever they wanted for free, the countryside began experiencing tremendous labor shortages and therefore food production declined.
With the recent enactment of Executive Order 259 in 2009, this situation is beginning to be remedied. More than 3.2 million acres have now been turned over to campesinos – who have already put much of it into production.
Many farmers who had left the fields are returning to farming, convinced that it’s a good investment because everything that’s planted can be sold, and at good prices.
Part of the production is sold to the government to supply state-run agricultural markets, which keep prices affordable for everyone, and the other part is sold on the open market, where prices are regulated by the law of supply and demand, though at higher non-subsidized prices.
Another problem confronted by the revolutionary government was the high cost of rental housing, often consuming more than half of workers’ wages. This situation was addressed through the Urban Reform Law, which made into homeowners everyone who was paying rent and established legal standards so that in the future, everyone who purchased a home would continue to making monthly payments, but not more than a third of their wages.
In terms of education, when the Moncada attack occurred, the illiteracy rate in the country was about 30 percent. Ten thousand teachers were unemployed and thousands of children were unable to attend school. Illiteracy was eradicated in 1961 and education was declared free at all levels.
Today there is not a single child who doesn’t attend school or a teacher without work, including retired teachers, who have returned back into the workforce and receive their full salaries. I’ll return to that subject again in another commentary.
Other achievements of the Cuban people that can’t be mentioned here due to space will be discussed in future articles, since the corporate media abroad fails to devote a single line to these accomplishments.
This is part of the campaign of lies and misinformation that is waged against the Cuban Revolution. My main objective is to present the truth, and the truth is far from what was or is reported by the international media and some bloggers inside Cuba paid from the United States to discredit the revolution.