Friday, October 25, 2013

Center for Support of the Transition Created in Havana

Center for Support of the Transition Created in Havana / Rinaldo Emilio
Cosano Alen
Posted on October 24, 2013

HAVANA, Cuba, October, — On October 5 a press
conference took place in Havana announcing the formation of the Center
for Support of the Transition (CAT). During a break we talked to its
coordinator, attorney Roberto Díaz Vázquez.

Cubanet: What is CAT trying to achieve?

Díaz: Citizens should not only recognize they have rights but should
also put them into practice. They should value those rights so they can
advance economically, socially and politically. They should be in charge
of the changes we so need.
Cubanet: What is its relationship with the government, assuming there is

Díaz: CAT has no ambition to have a dialog with the government because
we are a parallel organization to the State. CAT would like the
population to recognize that it has the opportunity to decide upon and
put into practice the economic, social and political order that the
institutional changes taking place in Cuba entail. This is especially
true in the case of the private micro-businesses that could develop into
medium-sized businesses in the not to too distant future and into
large-scale businesses in five to ten years. This would have undeniable
consequences for the decentralization of power brought on by the
international and domestic financial crisis and the lack of visible
support from Latin America and Europe.

The temporary solution on which the regime has settled is to develop
micro-businesses, which today account for more than 40,000 so-called
self-employed workers, those we prefer to call micro-entrepreneurs.
Small-scale businesses could grow into large-scale business and become
the economic engine of the country.

Cubanet: Does CAT have a support program for micro-businesses?

Díaz: There are various programs to help micro-businesses. One is the
Guillermo Cabrera Infante Center, which sponsors courses, workshops and
post-graduate conferences on economics, accounting, business management
and feasibility studies. There is also the José Agustín Caballero
Institute for the Education of Free Thought, which I head. It is
involved in short, medium and long-term projections on the creation of
micro-businesses. There is also the Independent National Workers'
Confederation of Cuba (CONIC), which brings together a sizable number of
workers interested in encouraging an independent labor union movement,
which is at last responding to the growing tide of change in our lives.

Cubanet: What are the functions of the institute over which you preside?

Díaz: It is having a profound impact on society. We work in close
cooperation with CAT to make sure that the social gains which have been
achieved are maintained through analysis, research, courses on economics
and financial planning. We have a multi-disciplinary team made up of
seven instructors from different branches of higher education and with
different areas of expertise who can impart useful knowledge.

Cubanet: What support might the government give to micro-businesses?

Díaz: Where possible, it should be allowing investment in small-scale
businesses. We can see what might be allowed if we look at production
cooperatives and non-state services.

Cubanet: Officials at the Cuban Interest Section in the United States
made statements in Florida several months ago that Cuba might allow
investment by Cubans living overseas, including the United States. What
is your opinion about this?

Díaz: It is interesting but it is not enough to overcome the
restrictions of the American embargo. And the Cuban government, at least
for now, will not provide this opportunity because it can't. It knows
what would happen if it were to allow foreign investment on a small
scale. Politically it would mean losing control of the gold mine that
state control of micro-businesses represents. Metaphorically speaking,
Cuba would have a million investors in a very short period of time. It
is a figure worth considering. According to the official trade union,
the Workers' Central Union of Cuba (CTC), in the event we reach a point
where there are between half a million and a million independent
workers, the State would have to sit down and fully analyze the
situation with regard to medium-sized businesses. It would have to begin
the process of political decentralization starting with economic management.

Cubanet: Are the regime's current reforms having any influence on the
official ideology?

Díaz: For years socialist philosophy has been characterized by a clear
awareness of material assets. It remains bound up with the greatest
corruption scandals ever uncovered in Cuba. These include the scandals
involving Habanaguarex S.A., a company assigned to the Office of the
Historian of Havana, and Cimex, S.A., which is under the control of the
military. None of the higher-ups want to miss out on a piece of the pie.
The juicy businesses are those funded with mixed capital or capital from
overseas. This is what CAT is fighting for. Economic development in the
United States and the advanced countries of Europe was essentially an
outgrowth of small and medium-sized industry. We must adapt this
experience to circumstances in today's Cuba because our people want to
find their own way forward.

Cubanet: Many thanks.

Reinaldo Emilio Cosano Alén,
From Cubanet, Octuber 11, 2013

Source: "Center for Support of the Transition Created in Havana /
Rinaldo Emilio Cosano Alen | Translating Cuba" -

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