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Archive for February, 2011

By Luis M. Cáceres

In February of 2010 a book was published by the Cuban State titled: Fundamentals of Planning, which says on page 23: we do business with all the world’s regions, Cuba’s principal commercial partners are: Venezuela, China, the countries of the European Union (composed of 27 developed countries) among them Spain, Italy as well as Canada and Russia. It continues to say:in the last few years agricultural commerce has developed with the United States which now surpasses 500 to 600 million dollars annually.

According to the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, the word ‘Bloqueo‘ means: besieged, immobilized, naval force that blocks, cuts all types of communications to one or more coastal ports of the enemy country. Has anyone seen this blockade in Cuba? At the start when the Americans were not compensated for interventions, expropriations or nationalizations, they only had some frozen funds on their part that is far from compensating them for the value seized.

When that stage of the hurricanes that left entire zones destroyed, they were among those who offered help to construct living spaces, but their help was rejected without consulting those affected.

It can already be considered a rare case  for someone to have no family member who has left for economic or political reasons (for the case is the same) to the United States and who doesn’t receive a little gift to “soften” their situation and hold up spirits and strengths for everyday work, receiving from those who carry in their body the remembrance of those who would probably accompany them for life, leaving their souls and joys in the land they love, those who lost it all without being able to leave it to a family member who might have needed it, those who have gone to live in a borrowed Fatherland. This has brought them work and well-being. However, the Cuban Government calls them enemies.

Very many old people receive a decent subsidy without ever having worked in that country, simply all, from whom also comes something to our pockets making part of the so-called ‘remittances’ which have totaled millions that have left from that enemy, money which when it touches Cuban soil, along with the metamorphosis of color loses 20% of its original value.

I know the case of a Cuban recently arrived in that country who needed — urgently — open heart surgery, this very sad person said he didn’t have the money to pay for it, at which the doctor responded to him that he hadn’t asked the question.

He underwent successful surgery to the point where he could even manage to drive a cart as an option, pleasure and trade (and for the operation, he didn’t have to pay a cent).

Another curious fact also from a retired Cuban who traveled and worked several months and on his return confessed to his friends that he’d earned more money there than all his working life here.

This is a personal experience from someone who writes: On arriving and the plane landing,  they announced that Americans and legal residents would deplane first, I felt discriminated against because I thought that in this we’d win by doing this in reverse, here the foreigners are first in everything.

That enemy has only received criticism with the official message that arrives from and up to their own houses by diverse means of broadcast without their being able to protest nor interfere or, could it be that they aren’t paying attention?

This is the empire that defeated the other empire, the Russian, which gave us fish without teaching us how to fish, which proclaimed that the entire world belonged to socialism, where only one flag would fly — that of the hammer and sickle — that of the missiles and the Warsaw Pact, that of the enormous army and its nuclear arms and a solid Party conscience of its people in which, up to that moment we came to believe in.

They say that they allowed that damn enemy ideology to penetrate (the only explanation) when they spoke of empire, we thought of strength, also impositions — something that all of us rejected — but of this, many wanted its commerce, its investments, tourism and our taste for its movies, and why not too its money, although for some it is false but at times I think they’re more false than they will admit.

Translated by: JT

January 20 2011

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By Dagoberto Valdés

There can be no economic development without freedoms and human rights. As we gather statements from Cuban men and women who are trying to develop their private initiative through their own small businesses—those that have been included in the list of medieval trades that the Cuban government, in a false overture, has approved as a liberalization of work—they are faced with endless bureaucratic obstacles and State protectionism for their inefficient enterprises or useless services so that no one can compete with these fossils of bureaucratic totalitarianism.

The acquisition of permits and the following of procedures take each Cuban who takes on the risk of enterprise on a goose chase from office to office. To mention only a few of these offices, if you wish to build a shack for your paladar—home-cooking and home-based restaurant,—for example, you will need to visit Urban Planning, the Popular Municipal Power Administration Council, the Directive Offices of Municipal Public Health, the National Taxing Office (ONAT) and others. In each of these offices, you must be subjected not only to the contempt of bureaucracy, but also to the obstacles that have been implemented so that no one person is able to earn too much, or acquire titles to more than one property, accumulate properties or money, or have the opportunity to personal progress above the leveling standards of true Socialism. In other words, you are allowed to pursue a minimum level of survival under State dependence and through the mental and daily work that are indispensable for mere survival.

Another insurmountable obstacle is the government’s protectionism over any service, business or enterprise, all of which are the sole property of the State, as to eliminate possible, potential and incipient competition from the self-employed, or the small, private entrepreneurs. A home-based restaurant (paladar) cannot be opened within two blocks from a State cafeteria because it would entail competition against the State-owned business. And this, of course, never takes into account the fact that the state-owned cafeteria hardly ever has anything to sell. Minister Murillo has clearly stated at the Cuban National Assembly that State enterprises should not fear competition from private businesses, as these are but mere “rustic shacks”. And, were they to progress, there are still economic and social guidelines that reaffirm that national economy is in the hands of the State, and that the accumulation of capital will not be allowed, nor will it be allowed to go beyond any mechanism of State planning even if the enterprises in question are not State-owned. Not even water can ever be as clear as this.

Cuba will never step back from the edge of the cliff with only “rustic shacks”. Enterprises that are not subjected to competition can only produce misery and bad service. These supposed overtures from the government, without the element of recognition of private and protected property, are not real overtures. Work and bureaucracy are natural antonyms. And economy and liberty are inseparable.

Therefore, we all know where this is heading. Or, better yet, where it is not heading.

But, being that totalitarianism does not allow for reforms, who knows!

Dagoberto Valdés

Spanish post
January 20 2011

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