Monday, October 27, 2014

Has Stagnation Returned?

Has Stagnation Returned? / Fernando Damaso
Posted on October 26, 2014

For years, stagnation was a constant of Cuban-style socialism, as it was
in the socialism of Eastern Europe. Starting in 2006, with the change at
the helm, it seemed as if the country was going to awaken from its long
lethargy and start to move forward, albeit too slowly for many people. A
few timid steps were taken, but they were enough to create some hope
that, finally, we would begin to travel along the correct path, leaving
behind years of failed experiments and constant political, economic and
social improvisation.

There began a process of eliminating absurd prohibitions, which pleased
everyone, although it was known that the contents of our wallets would
be insufficient to fund such niceties as travel, hotel stays or buying a
car or house. It also seemed as though the economy was going to begin to
take off, salaries and pensions would improve, and we would begin to
live as normal people. Congresses and conferences were convened wherein
short-, medium-, and long-term plans were discussed and approved which,
according to their creators, would facilitate our secure path towards
development, without pressures but also without slow-downs.

Some years have now passed since then, and the scene has changed but
little: agriculture continues to lag behind the demand for
reasonably-priced foods for the majority of citizens, livestock breeding
continues to be stagnant, milk production is seriously below national
demand, basic industrial products are scarce, health and education
services get worse daily, the lack of hygiene is widespread, the state
of the epidemiological system is worrisome, streets and sidewalks remain
broken and unrepaired, buildings collapse and new housing units are not
built, businesses are deteriorating and under-supplied, and incivility
is rampant.

The list of problems could go on ad infinitum, adding to it, besides,
the prevailing corruption, diversion of resources, social violence and
generalized indiscipline. It appears that erstwhile gains are
insufficient, or that actions taken do not resolve the problems that
prompted them. It could be that, without realizing it, we are falling
once again into stagnation.

It is true that it is unjust to own lands when the owner does not work
them, or when the lands are unproductive. However, it is also unjust to
work them and make them productive, and not own them. The same thing
happens when business properties are legally transferred to
non-agricultural, non-private cooperatives. After the State, through its
interventions, nationalized these properties when they were in good
condition and let them deteriorate, now it pretends that the
responsibility to repair them falls on the private proprietors – while
the State continues to maintain ownership of the real estate.

We are face to face with a reality. As long as the State, which during
56 years has demonstrated its economic illiteracy and its incapacity to
make productive ventures out of agriculture, livestock breeding and
industry – as well as being unable to run its enterprises and services
at a quality level – continues to try to maintain itself as the absolute
owner of everything in the name of the people (that generic entity) –
and doesn't permit real Cubans the exercise of real private ownership,
nothing will work.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Source: Has Stagnation Returned? / Fernando Damaso | Translating Cuba -

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