Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cuba: A New VP & the Same Old Model

Cuba: A New VP & the Same Old Model
March 23, 2013
Pedro Campos

pc1HAVANA TIMES — The last National Assembly of People's Power session
resulted in a new first vice-president – a traditional party
professional who's 52 years old. Citizens and foreigners see the
replacement of Machado Ventura, 82, with Diaz-Canel as an "opening" to
younger people.

Nevertheless, the session didn't approve anything that signifies
substantial changes in the economic or political concepts and structures
of the state-centric model in Cuba. There's a new vice president but the
old model remains the same.

As long as there's no recognition of the economic, political and social
failure of the centralized wage-labor state-centered model, the
neo-Stalinist model, there will not be true socialist renewal.

The current leaders have been elected by the same previously established
mechanisms. Through these, the central and provincial apparatuses of the
government-party designate the candidates to the National Assembly, the
same body responsible for electing those who direct the central
government apparatus.

The president is therefore talking about constitutional changes that
will be approved by the same candidates designated from above.

The leadership of the party-government continues to decide everything in
Cuba. The mass media are still all in the hands of the government
apparatus. The Internet remains a desire.

Distinct socialist ideas are confined to limited spheres with little or
no dissemination. The settings of the opposition are harassed to varying
degrees (though we don't share their goals, we defend their right to
express themselves).

The referenda on laws; the direct election of the presidents and vice
presidents of the central, provincial and municipal governments;
democratic participatory voting on budgeting at all levels, and the
involvement of workers in a part of the earnings of government
enterprises do not appear in the official vocabulary. Without this
there's no real democracy or socialism. This is clear.

pc2The opening to self-employment, small and medium private capitalism,
and cooperatives in sectors other than agriculture are still hampered by
state-monopoly on financing, the market and exports/imports. This
private enterprise is conceived of by the party-government as
"non-state" forms that function in the interests of the state.

While it's recognized that immobility has been left behind and some of
the measures taken respond to general demands (not only of democratic
communists but of all society), these changes certainly haven't been
enough to break with the status quo and to open up the economy and
politics to a genuine process of democratization.

This is why it means little to take actions and talk about deepening and
accelerating the modest changes resulting from the government's
"updating" of the model. No one can forget the enormously powerful
brakes that persist and the bureaucratic resistance to change of any type.

Let's remember that we have two currencies in circulation. One has been
devalued for paying the workers, while the other one — valued at 25
times the former — is used for purchasing the most basic products in
hard-currency stores.

This is a means of under-paying workers for the value of their labor,
leading many Cubans to choose working outside of the government or
seeking their fortunes elsewhere – no matter if it's in Haiti or
Australia, although the majority want to go to the "brutal and turbulent

Proponents of government economic policies insist that the dual currency
isn't a problem for the development of the economy – instead they point
to the lack of production.

Those with a basic knowledge of political economy (the cost of goods
includes the cost of labor applied in production), and/or people who
live on a government salary, know that if a worker has no incentive, if
they're not paid for their work, there will be no production.

pc3The dual currency has served to help balance the government's
finances at the expense of reducing the purchasing power of the general
population – but not to stimulate production.

In the meantime, what continues happening is what the workers in the
former USSR used to describe: The government pretends to pay us and we
pretend to work.

Profound changes in Cuba will have to take place for there to be true
democratization of political life and the socialization of productive
property and output (through varying means) – but these won't occur
because of a change of this or that official.

This is because the failure of the model demands democratization and
socialization along with criticism and peaceful pressure by workers,
intellectuals, students, farmers, the self-employed, homemakers and all
citizens who feel effected by the continuation of this bureaucratic
state-centered injustice.

In all possible settings, availing ourselves of all possible
opportunities, we must continue pointing out and demonstrating the
social and economic infeasibility of "state socialism," which conceals a
form of monopoly capitalism managed by the state and all its democratic
inconsistencies. At the same time, we must present concrete proposals
for overcoming the current state of affairs in our country.
To contact Pedro Campos:

No comments:

Post a Comment