Cuba Today: One Step Forward and Three Steps Back

The fact that the counter-Revolution is in power here in Cuba can no longer be hidden.

By Pedro Campos

Photo: centrocultural coop

HAVANA TIMES — Analyzing the Russian Social-Democratic Party’s inside problems, Lenin wrote his famous book “One step forward, two steps back” in 1904. Paraphrasing that title, Raul Castro’s recent speech at the National Assembly of the People’s Power, 113 years later, could have been called “One step forwards, three steps back.” Lenin took two, and his had to be more, so he took three.

This is at least what the dictator’s (forgive me readers who don’t share this same view, but I can’t find a more accurate term) statements confirmed, mentioning three basic subjects which could have been the supposed Raul Castro reform: Electoral reform, self-employment and the cooperative movement.

First step backwards: Now the brother of the late leader, the successor President, has confirmed that the upcoming elections will be held under the old electoral law which he had promised to change in 2015. In a nutshell, it was a “unanimous” decision made by the leading group of upper echelons in Cuba who will continue to prevent the Cuban people from being able to democratically and freely vote, in an election, for their leaders, representatives in Parliament , other forms of government and other matters relating to popular sovereignty. This right continues to be seized.

Second step backwards: Taking a critical look at his own actions, he spoke about the mistakes with which self-employment developed because of “enthusiasm”, which allowed “policy detours” in the development of this “non-governmental” sector, which gave them the opportunity to violate the tax law and to divert state resources. Some entrepreneurs even had several businesses and traveled abroad often.

In short, it gave rise to the “prosperity” of private citizens which the government has been criticizing, and has ordered some private restaurants to be shut down, to arrest owners and to study measures directed at “stopping” the progress of this emerging private capitalism.

Third step backwards: He said the same thing with regard to Non-agricultural Cooperatives and he revealed his concerns over the development of construction cooperatives, at the same time a housing shortage of around a million homes was announced. Everyone knows that housing is the first serious problem that affects all Cubans, the growth of its population and the wellbeing of its citizens, which also drives young people to leave Cuba by any means they have because the State-party-government has been unable to meet its annual house building target for decades now.

For further details about the “mistakes” committed with the cooperative movement, I would like to share this article from the Cuban State news agency Prensa Latina, in its entirety, which was dated in Havana on July 12th. It explains what “the socialist cooperatives the government would like” are really meant to be.

Lawmakers examine the cooperative movement in Cuba

Havana, July 12th (PL) The Industry, Construction and Energy Committee belonging to the Cuban Parliament assessed the performance of non-agricultural cooperatives (CNA) today, which have been established across the country as part of an experiment currently in progress.

According to what lawmaker Santiago Lajez Choy explained, the members of this team had previously visited the 57 CNAs dedicated to recycling, construction, food and other services businesses in 38 municipalities.

It also took into account the results of controls carried out by the Central Workers Union of Cuba at 15 cooperatives in different provinces.

In the lawmakers’ opinion, the Co-ops are increasing their contribution to highly important economic and social sectors, they contribute to improving the quality of life of its members and are able to satisfy clients’ demands, especially in the construction sector.

However, it could reduce human capital at state-owned companies, as there is a growing exodus of trained personnel who move to cooperatives, lawmakers warned.

On the other hand, they pointed out the fact that a significant group of cooperatives perform their functions and makes deals outside of the region where they are based, which limits the public administration’s competent bodies’ control and inspection of them.

This debate also highlighted the growing disparity in income for public employees and new cooperative workers in a similar job, which encourages the skilled work force to leave the State companies.

Leaders of the Construction and Industry ministries took part in the exchange, giving assessments and statistics about the main economic-financial indicators of the CNAs.

Lajez Choy stressed the fact that the Committee’s analysis, as well as its control and tax studies in the sector, contributes information which can be used to comprehensively assess the experiment on expanding the cooperative movement within the country, a job in the hands of the President.

In short, several days before Raul Castro’s speech, lawmakers designated from above, were sent to “investigate the non-agricultural cooperative experiment” and they paved the way for this crafty attack on the few freedoms that non-agricultural cooperatives have, which CPAs (agricultural cooperatives) could never have.

They were able to “bring to light” the fact that the efficient non-agricultural cooperatives were competing favorably with state companies with salaried workers and could encourage skilled workers to leave the state companies.

Self-employment and the cooperative movement have clearly begun to successfully compete with the state and it appears the time has come to stop them.

The fact that the counter-Revolution is in power here in Cuba can no longer be hidden.

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    Pedro Campos makes one error in his article. That is in seeking to be forgiven by readers who endeavor to avoid calling Raul Castro a dictator.
    Fear not Pedro, for you are correct according to the Oxford English Dictionary which defines the meaning of the word:

    “dictator >
    a ruler with total power over a country, typically one who has obtained power by force.”

    Both Raul and his late brother Fidel fit the description perfectly.