Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sugarcane Flower / Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado

Sugarcane Flower / Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado
Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado, Translator: lapizcero

Closing of sugar mills >> reduces direct employment of workers in the
sugar agro-industry >> diminishes planting of sugarcane >> reduces
production of derivatives of sugarcane >> depresses services and
production related to the sector >> impoverishes the quality of life of
communities of farm workers >> affects in general sugar production >>
hurts the country's economy. (end diagram)

As if we were dealing with an erotic passage, each day, the arbitrary
and improvised nature of the system or policy of prices in Cuba gets
undressed. Like the policy itself – being designed by the pyramid of
power, we find it capricious and illogical sometimes – permeates all
societal strata and impacts the actions and speech of diverse aspects of
our reality, including household finances. Like a well established
culture of sultanístico volunteerism, many prices seem to be determined
from the fly of the pants of some leaders, independent of the law of
supply and demand; even more, after a process as long as the Cuban,
January 1 of 2012 will mark fifty-three years of doing and undoing at
the whim of the original "guides".

I say this because after "digesting"and concatenating certain news
offered in different occasions by the newspaper Granma, mouthpiece of
the Communist Party, regarding the sugar cane agro-industry, sugar cane
itself, the mills and the equipment required for its exploitation, I
reflect on this important sector which for centuries was the fundamental
industry of our country.

The problem is not simple, happening first because a bad decision to
close two thirds of the sugar mills in Cuba with the consequent
decapitation of the economic activity of the sugar mill communities and
the whole infrastructure created around the mills, affecting other rural
communities that exist around these agro-industrial centers; which led
to a reduction in the number of jobs in planting and harvesting of the
cane, depressed production of syrups, electric energy and other
derivatives of sugarcane such as alcohol, animal feed, waste for
furniture making, etc.

It may be central to the economy to diversify agricultural production,
but fighting the monoculture should not be accomplished by destroying
the sugar industry, but rather through the creation of other productive
sectors or agro-industrial bases so as to avoid dependency on a single
product. The bad decision to close sugar mills occurred in the very
moment when it was booming and expansion of ethanol in an international
scope was occurring; which suggests a lack of foresight and resulted in
the lack of one important source of income for the country.

The economic determinations of a state should be subject to satisfying
the needs of citizens and always oriented towards that purpose, it is
not fair or smart to subject them to the irresponsible or irrational
whims of one person or group of them in detriment to the well-being and
quality of life of the majority. Another element of importance is
evidenced by the potential loss of sugar traditions by reducing the
number of employees involved in agricultural industry; moreover, the
waste of the resources invested in developing intangibles over the
centuries to foment sugar culture. Equally it seems they forgot or
ignored the importance of multiple sugar mills to insure sugar culture
areas that are as near as possible to the mills.

In the newspaper they also pointed out the reduction in price for inputs
and the doubling in what independent producers are paid for a ton of
sugarcane. Here I go back to the old proverb "better late than never",
but why did we wait this long? It would be good if the population knew
who sets the prices for plows and other agricultural implements. The
extinction of the Sugar Ministry transpired as well and the creation in
its stead of an Entrepreneurial Group of the Sugar Agro-industry.

In the same way, they mentioned the deficiency in diverse aspects in the
Ministry of Agriculture and "(…) the approval of instructions from the
President of the State Council and the Ministers to shed light on the
general policies and work plans of the entities, Organisms of the
Central Administration of the State, other national entities and the
Local Administrations of Popular Power." Isn't it the excessive
centralization that has damaged ostensibly their development and
prevented the positive functioning of Cuban society in the economic,
political and social realms? So many contradictions persuade us that we
cannot advance with the controlling way of thinking of the
mega-proprietors of a country.

Production is stimulated precisely by decentralizing and interesting
workers in a common project, and in the results of their labor, the
opposite of what they have done for more than 50 years and apparently
intend to continue doing. If they are unwilling to institute the
foundation so society grows and develops healthy in support of better
individual and collective productive yields, it is time for a real
liberation of mindsets and a transition towards more just and efficient
models for the development of Cuba.

Translated by: lapizcero

October 4 2011

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