Monday, February 24, 2014

The Day Fidel Castro Eliminated Private Businesses

The Day Fidel Castro Eliminated Private Businesses / Baldomero Vasquez Soto
Posted on February 24, 2014

On 13 March 1968, on the steps of the University of Havana, Fidel Castro
delivered a speech where he announced the so-called "Revolutionary
Offensive" stage, a speech that we consider — from the ideological point
of view — as the most important among his countless speeches.

In retrospect, that date represented the final lift-off of the tragic
journey, with no return tickets. which would lead the Cuban people to
socialist totalitarianism, toward the hell of misery and repression in
which we are still living today. For decades, until today, we would also
feel the catastrophic consequences on the Cuban economy of the measures
announced and implemented by Castro, which swept away the productive
fabric of the small urban businesses of the country.

The Commander in Chief announced, to the leaders of the Communist Party,
of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, student leaders,
the unions, and the Women's Federation, that the time had come: "this
moment is one for embarking on an all-out, powerful, Revolutionary

Leaving aside the previous manipulations and deceits, where he swore he
wasn't a Communist, he knew he could reveal the intentions that always
his between his bushy beard because he already controlled, the press,
radio, television, unions, universities and all the other institutions
of the country, aside from the Armed Forces.

The objective of the Offensive was to built socialism, communism in
Cuba; and to do this, he said, "Capitalism his to be uprooted."

What the dictator had in mind, he said without mincing words: "It must
be said that there will be no future in this nation for private
business, the self-employed, private industry, or anything."

What he proposed, then, was to remove the entire small private
commercial sector left on the island, since the large and medium
enterprises had always been expropriated. He would confiscate all the
small urban businesses and they would become state property, and he
would turn the business owners into state employees, or his, which is
all the same.

To discredit the office of the small businesses, and expropriate them,
Castro classified commercial activity as unproductive and parasitical.
He said:

"There still remains among us a real scum of privileged persons, who
live on the work of the others and who live considerably better then the
rest. They are drones in perfect physical condition who put up a stand
or open a small place and earn 50 pesos per day…if people were to ask
what kind of revolution is this that allows these groups of parasites."

The Revolution against the bars

Posing as a moralist, as a good Communist, Fidel Castro justified the
guillotine that he applied to small businesses, based on surveys of the
Communist Party about the bars of Havana and about small businesses in

We quote verbatim for the unbelievers:

"We see incredible things … there still remain in Havana… 955 private
bars making money hand over fist and selling everything."

And the figure is stressed with the histrionics that he always
performed: "Nine hundred and fifty-five bars!"

The "investigation" of the bars inquired about data such as gross
revenues and profits (55% had insignificant earnings of 25 pesos a day),
Revolutionary attitude (72% didn't support the Revolution, hence
Castro's interest in ruining them) and the type of clientele that
frequented these businesses (which was classified derisively as
antisocials). Based on this information, the study recommended that "the
bars should be operated or closed."

The Revolution against all businesses

The survey of the Communist Party of the small businesses in Havana
yielded data about the legality and hygienic conditions of the
businesses, but also about their owners: how many asked permission to
leave the country and how many ran their companies directly.

The data did not support the savage expropriation carried out against
all businesses: 72% were legally constituted, 50% had good hygienic
conditions, only 5.8% of the owners had asked for permission to leave
the country and 88% of the owners worked in their businesses. But, none
of this mattered because Cuba's owner made his decision. He expressed it
with the following phrase:

Gentlemen, we did not make a revolution here to establish the right to
do business! … When will they completely understand that this is the
revolution of the socialists? That this is the revolution of the communists?

The fatal "Cuban March" of '68

So, to do away with the "privileged," "parasites" and "lazy," in March
of 1968 Castro attacked small private businesses, to confiscate them all:

"There were 55,636 small businesses, many operated by one or two people.
Among them 11,878 grocery stores (bodegas), 3,130 butchers, 3,198 bars,
8,101 food establishments (restaurants, friterías, cafeterias, etc),
6,653 laundries, 3,643 barbers, 1,188 shoe repairs, 4,544 auto
mechanics, 1,598 artisans, 3,345 carpenters." [Source]

This commercial raid has been the principal cause of the impoverishment
that Cuban people are suffering even today, and not the embargo by the
American imperialists, as the Castro propaganda manipulated in his
complaint the UN since 1992, and which had echoed through the Left
throughout the world.

Cuban Script in Venezuela: War on private companies

Agnes Heller reminds us that "history, for good or ill, is a learning
process." We learn from the ill-starred experience of Cuban socialism
and recognize the importance of the private sector to generate
employment, income, goods and services that improve the standard of
living of the population. We don't cultivate our anti-merchant
prejudices, product of nationalized oil, because we play the socialist
government's game of war against the businesses. We must openly defend
private enterprise to stop Venezuela from being turned into a socialist
hell like that the bearded dinosaur established in Cuba.

Heller suffered Communism in Hungary. Given our circumstances, I
conclude with some guiding words of this author:

"When the majority of the population choose these strategic options
(like socialism) they have not had any personal experience with them,
and later they no longer have the slightest possibility of changing
their mind."

Cubanet, 19 February 2014, Baldomero Vasquez Soto

Source: The Day Fidel Castro Eliminated Private Businesses / Baldomero
Vasquez Soto | Translating Cuba -

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