Cuba Gov. Purges 632 Co-op Leaders

January 26, 2013 | Print Print |
Pinar del Rio farmer.  Photo: Michael Roy

Pinar del Rio farmer. Photo: Michael Roy

HAVANA TIMES — In most countries farm cooperatives are owned by their members who elect a board of directors and/or administrators. In Cuba it’s very different; the state-run coops have little autonomy, an example of which was the decision this week to remove 632 presidents of farm co-ops in one fell swoop.

The unilateral decision was announced by Felix Gonzalez the head of ANAP, Cuba’s small farmers association that includes cooperatives.

See related post on Cuban agriculture

“A cooperative cannot function well if leaders in charge don’t work well,” said Gonzalez.

He added that the heads of the cooperatives need training to be up for the challenges posed by the economic changes the Communist Party and the government are trying to implement on the island.

Cuba is currently importing somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of its foodstuffs, and must spend upwards of US $2 billion a year to pay the tab, noted Xinhua news.

President Raul Castro has made turning around the sluggish national production a priority of his government, however offcial production figures have continued to fall despite hundreds of thousands of hectares of land being given out in usufruct in recent years.

Rising international food prices make the fallback need to import most food a strategy that is unsustainable for the weak Cuban economy.


What's your opinion?

  • Griffin

    Hey, here’s an idea: why not give the land to the farmers like the revolution promised when they took the land from the big land owners (and then from the mid-sized land owners, and then from the small land owners…) ? Then leave the farmers alone to grow what they want and sell it to whoever wants to buy it. In a few years Cuba would be self-sufficient in food and even exporting produce.

    Cuban agriculture is a disaster because of 54 years of government meddling. More meddling isn’t going to fix it.

    • Grady R. Daugherty

      Well, I’ll be damned . . . You have finally said something of value for reform of Cuban socialism! I almost forgot it was you speaking, and not me.

      I have on my bookshelf a 1921 book by Frederic C. Howe, entitled “Denmark: A Cooperative Commonwealth.” It details how the small farmers gained control of Denmark’s government in the late 1800s and distributed much of the large landed estates to small farmers.

      At the time, Denmark was poor, with poor soil and little sunshine. The small farmers then came together into cooperatives, in order to purchase economic inputs more cheaply, and also to market their farm produce cooperatively for better prices.

      Within a few short years Danish milk, cheese, eggs, ham and et cetera became famous for high quality–a reputation that is with it today, a century later–and dominated many agricultural markets in Europe.

      Through small plot ownership and the freedom to produce and sell according to the farmers’ self interests, Denmark became “the happiest place on earth.”

      You’ve hit the nail on the head, Griffin. The Cuban government, if it wishes to turn Cuban agriculture around, should privatize much of the land, and allow farmers and ranchers to do exactly what the Danes did, and make Cuba prosperous within a year or two.

      It’s ironic, Griffin, but you understand workable socialism better than most Marxists!

      • Moses Patterson

        Before you get too excited, Cuban agriculture faces another major non-farming problem. Transportation costs. As many of these farms are located some distance from their markets, trucks and the fuel to transport the produce is currently in short supply. The government controls these items so reforms which move the responsibility for getting the produce to the market into private hands must be acted upon simultaneously. It is not uncommon for crops to rot in warehouses waiting for government transport trucks.

        • Grady R. Daugherty

          Valid point. The Marxian deviation from real socialism apparently has screwed up the entire agricultural production process, all along the line. The Marxists leaders and functionaries, while totally sincere, have a phobia of the small business sector of an economy, and of someone, anyone, making a buck. This is Utopian, moralistic nonsense.

          The whole inspiration of socialism is based on the material benefits of the working people owning the land and means of production, not through the agency of the state, but directly, either cooperatively or independently, but with private property rights intact. A prosperous small agricultural-sector bourgeoisie is crucial for producing and marketing food and other products.

          I’m a hard-core socialist transformationary, but I’m certainly and proudly no longer a Marxist. What that incorrect misunderstanding of workable socialism has done do to the Cuban economy, quite visible in the food production and marketing process, is revolting.

          But I also understand that, as long as state power is the hands of the PCC, it is not in the hands of the imperialists, and that all the comrades need to do is clear their heads of the Marxist fog.

          It is no wonder that you, Moses, and others like you, who hate the Cuban leadership and the moronic state monopoly system that is ruining the Cuban Revolution, believe as you do. But I’m on the side of the working people of Cuba and the US, while you are hand-in-glove with the imperialist dictators, a place I will never be and will never support.

      • Griffin

        Private ownership of the land by the farmers need not necessarily involve co-operatives, but that is one possibility. Co-operative distribution systems might prove very useful for Cuban farmers to overcome with the poor transportations system.

        But don’t forget, I do not believe socialism is workable, or economically sustainable, in any form.

        • Grady R. Daugherty

          No, you wouldn’t.

  • Victor Lar

    “leave the farmers alone to grow what they want and sell it to whoever wants to buy it”
    Even if the buyers are drug dealers?

  • Grady R. Daugherty

    The abysmal state of Cuban agriculture comes from the poisonous pill slipped into the socialist movement, in the 1800s, of state ownership of all the land. Engels and Marx were completely wrong in the last two pages or the second chapter of the Communist Manifesto.

    The absence of private property ownership is theorized as an attribute of far-in-the-future, full communism, after a very long period of social, economic and cultural evolution under socialist state power. Right now, Cuban farmers and ranchers need private property land ownership, not the premature forcing of an attribute of the long-range social goal onto present-day socialism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Humberto-Capiro/1033925668 Humberto Capiro

    The Castro “government” put incompetent bureaucrats to run the agriculture
    instead of the farmers. My uncle told me on how they would raze fields of
    native fruit trees in order to plant soybeans who are not native.