[Marxism] Cuba's Economic and Social Policies:

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sat Dec 24 07:49:56 MST 2005


(The most complete and detailed summary on the national assembly
reports we've seen so far published in English. Complete texts of
the major reports have all been published in Spanish already. It
will be necessary to read this all the way through, but among the
high points is a promise to see an end to blackouts. This will be
most welcome. We've just begun a blackout in my house as this is
being written. There are also important comments here on Bolivia
as well as the Cuban medical aid team now working in Pakistan.

There's discussion of the continuing problems of waste, corruption
and so on here, which is deeping. Also discussion on the replacing
of urban water services which we read now results in a 50% loss of
that precious fluid, and much, much more here as the year comes to
an end on a note of increased debate and discussion of many of the
island's problems. Palante, the Cuban humor magazine, in it final
issue features a cartoon of a birthday cake for the end of the year.

(The baby representing the new year, a child appearing in Mambi
costume like Elpido Valdes, is depicted greeting the old man who
now represents 2005 saying "Welcome Conserver". He's holding a 
birthday cake which uses compact flourescent light bulbs in place
of candles. On the side is a garbage can with sheets of paper 
labled "theft, corruption, indicispline, waste of resources", etc.
Earlier this year, National Bank president Francisco Soberon made
a point of suggesting that Cuba's famous slogan "Patria o Muerto"
could now be complemented by "Ahorar o Muerte" - Save or Die, a
good indication of the importance conservation is going to have
here in the months and years ahead. Some of Fidel Castro's longest
remarks in the current national assembly session have been focused
on conservation, electricity and so on. Lots of changes coming.)
=================================================================

GRANMA
Havana, Friday, December 23, 2005. Year 9 / Number 357

http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/secciones/ingles/noticias/art106.html

Cuba's Economic and Social Policies: 
an Important Point of Reference for the World

Cuban President stresses saving as a main source of greater material
assets. Deputies evaluate 2005 results and prospects for 2006.
Debates in Parliament resume on Friday

"Cuba arrives to the end of 2005 with an economic growth of 11, 8%;
this year ranks as one of the most fruitful of the Revolution, since
it has seen the beginning of important economic changes, associated
to the real solution of people's problems", stated vice president of
the Council of Ministers, Jose Luis Rodriguez yesterday in his
address to the ordinary session of the Parliament, presided over by
Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Fidel Castro said the island is finding formulas and solutions that
are useful not only for Cuba, but also for other nations, where
irrationality and unbridled consumerism -among other evils- prevail,
putting at risk the very existence of humanity.

The president, who had a very intense participation on the first day
of the sixth ordinary session of the National Assembly of People's
Power (parliament) of the current legislature, reiterated the
importance of saving as the main source of procuring the material and
financial assets the nation needs.

According to Jose Luis Rodriguez, the economic growth predicted for
2006 is 10 percent. Rodriguez, who is also the Economy and Planning
minister, was again vested with the responsibility of delivering to
the deputies the overall results pertaining to 2005 and the
perspectives for the coming year. Meanwhile, Georgina Barreiro,
minister of Finance and Prices, described the budget performance of
the fiscal year, and presented the budget proposal for 2006.

Numerous deputies as well as the parliament's committee on Economic
Affairs expressed their views on the reports by the two ministers. In
the opinion of committee chairman, Osvaldo Martinez, the social and
economic results of 2005 could be summarized, among other
achievements, by the conclusion of some 700 projects associated with
the Battle of Ideas -an ambitious program of the Revolution whose
main goal is to seek the economic, social, cultural and spiritual
betterment of the island's people-, while the minimum wage, pensions
and other social assistance payments were increased, directly
benefiting 5.1 million Cubans.

Other highlights of the year were the steady implementation of new
concepts on the power generating system, based on savings and
efficiency; the frontal attack against corruption and crime, and the
growth of the Gross Domestic Product. In Cuba, the GDP takes into
account the real social and economic development and not just a mere
growth of market transactions, stated Martinez.

The parliament session resumes Friday with the examination of the
economic guidelines and the proposed government budget for 2006. The
deputies will also elect the lay judges of the Cuban court system,
for a 5-year term to be concluded in 2010.

Before the floor was opened for debates yesterday, a proposal by the
president of the National Assembly and the Council of State to send a
salutatory message to Bolivian president-elect Evo Morales was
unanimously approved. The letter expresses the joy with which the
Cuban people and government received the historical victory of the
Bolivian people in last Sunday's elections after the landslide
victory of Evo Morales as the new president of that South American
nation.

OUR CAPACITY TO BE INVULNERABLE

The enemy is doing its best to obstruct everything we do, but it is
too late for that, assured President Fidel Castro as he explained the
experiences collected as part of the energy saving program, which
just this year, has seen an investment of 25 billion Cuban pesos.

We were prompted to its implementation by the results of the
Strategic Military Exercise Bastion 2004, the breakdown in the summer
of that same year of the Antonio Guiteras power plant, and the damage
provoked by hurricanes. They all taught us a lot and showed the wrong
concepts that were in place.

He said that in the field of power generation, all the provinces,
islands and cays that make up the Cuban archipelago will gradually
become independent, thanks to the setting up of a vast grid of
synchronized groups of power generators. It is a very ambitious plan,
he stressed.

That independence has already been achieved by Pinar del Rio
province, where no more blackouts will happen as a result of a
national generation shortage. By late March -announced the Cuban
leader- Matanzas and Havana, among other provinces, will have no more
power outages for that reason either.

In June, it is very likely that the entire nation will be benefiting
from this program; however, the more we save the more we will have,
he said. A new generation of energy saving electric supplies like
water heaters, pressure cookers, hotplates, and refrigerators being
distributed among the population will have a great influence on this
purpose, said Fidel.

In July, he added, the national power system will have an additional
one million kilowatts per hour, an amount similar to the power
generated by three power plants like the Guiteras, when operating
properly.

The Cuban president mentioned the gradual installation of emergency
power generators at hospitals, warehouses, the food industry and
other production and services facilities.

In Pinar del Rio, for instance, 216 out of 260 power generators
(standardized and with spare parts) needed by the province are
already operational, guaranteeing electricity to 245 economic
centers.

There is no way they can block this program, Fidel said, even though
some of the suppliers have had no choice but to give into the
pressure exerted on them by the US blockade against Cuba, intensified
by the Helms Burton law.

"If they have any sense of pride left," said Fidel, in reference to
the US government, "they won't mess with Cuba in any way. They are
morally and politically bankrupt, and our country has answers to
their lies, and is invulnerable militarily."

President Castro said that China and Vietnam are helping Cuba develop
this new energy program and that this cooperation is growing.

The leader of the Revolution noted that the Cuban public has become
more energy conscious, and pointed to the importance of continuing
with this attitude. He explained how thermoelectric plants are being
replaced with combined-cycle generators that use gas, and will bring
savings of up to one billon dollars.

The commander-in-chief reiterated that the US Empire will not take
over Cuba and that they have greatly underestimated the strength and
will power of the Cuban people.

He said that recent programs to fight against corruption and theft
are showing results thanks to the dedication of the young social
workers and university students that are on the frontline of this
battle and will soon be joined by several grass root organizations.

In this respect, he cited the recent example of some fishermen within
the Gulf Fleet who, instead of fishing, sought to get rich by
illegally buying and selling household electronic goods. He indicated
that the road to easy money is a dangerous threat that, at times, can
corrupt good people.

Responding to the now customary accusations from the US, Fidel Castro
noted that the only place in Cuba where torture takes place is at the
US Naval Base in Guantanamo. He said the hypocrisy of the US has
reached such a level that at the same time that they continue to jail
the Cuban Five -true leaders in the fight against terrorism-, the
White House has refused to explain how the self-confessed terrorist,
Posada Carriles illegally entered US territory. He added that it was
only thanks to the insistence and groundwork done by Cuba that Posada
Carriles and his accomplices were arrested.

CUBA'S PRESTIGE

President Castro also spoke about Cuban doctors in Pakistan who, in a
matter of weeks, have attended to more than 300,000 patients, calling
their work in this far-off country in the midst of an intense winter
a heroic deed. He regretted Washington's refusal of Cuban healthcare
professionals' help in Louisiana which brought criticism from those
citizens needing medical assistance.

Fidel Castro also spoke about Cuba's offer to send doctors to
Zimbabwe to help in the struggle against the HIV/AIDS epidemic that
has killed millions of Africans. He challenged the US and the
European Union to send 200 doctors -100 each-, instead of soldiers,
to Africa, in order to contribute concretely in this tragedy.

THE FIGHT AGAINST WASTE

In relation to the national campaign against corruption and waste,
Enrique Gomez Cabeza, representing social workers, spoke about the
results of several surveys conducted.

One of the studies, carried out at an agricultural firm in the
western province of Pinar del Rio, revealed that up to 50 percent of
the fuel designated for this entity was being used in non-labor
related activities. Another, conducted with the help of Global
Positioning Satellite (GPS) equipment, demonstrated the misuse of
state owned tractors and trucks in Holguin.

Among the list of irregularities revealed by the study were
unreported thefts, the use of water trucks for non work-related
activities and incongruities in the motors installed in some of the
trucks and tractors compared to their documentation.

OTHER DETAILS

The Parliament session resumed around 7 p.m. with Foreign Minister
Felipe Perez Roque who spoke about popular outrage in Bolivia over a
Spanish radio program whose hosts, pretending to be Spanish President
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, held a conversation with Bolivian
President Evo Morales, who believed that he was speaking with the
Spanish president.

Perez Roque said that the world over has interpreted this "interview"
as an act of racism and a total lack of respect to President Morales,
who received 54 percent of the vote in the recently held election.

President Fidel Castro said that the radio program will actually help
to further radicalize the political situation in Bolivia.

Parliament chair Ricardo Alarcon asked deputies to continue
considering reports presented by Ministers Jose Luis Rodriguez and
Georgina Barreiro. Among those who took the floor to address these
reports were Reverend Raul Suarez, Luis Carlos Suarez Reyes and Juan
Jose Rabilero. Rabilero noted everything budgeted in Cuba including
the economic investments are geared to benefit the entire population.

Carlos Lage, secretary of the Executive Committee of the Council of
Ministers, spoke on the subject of drought. He said that after
listening to the report he was impressed by the extraordinary effort
of the Cuban people during 2005, the advances reached and the
measures taken with a vision towards the future.

It is nice to know that all these efforts and results came despite
the drought conditions facing the country, said Lage. He noted that
the tendency is for the hurricanes to be more powerful, but that a
good side of it is that they bring much needed water. He called the
drought "silent disease" that causes great damage.

Lage explained that the country had to invest 250 million pesos to
address the problems of drought during 2004-2005. He then made
reference to additional urgently needed investments to supply the
population and agriculture with water as well as water works for
emergencies.

Recalling the most difficult moments of the drought, Lage said a
total of 20,000 motorized vehicles -trucks, tankers, tractors- were
used to distribute water, requiring a substantial outlay for fuel.

The situation was so serious that in 2004 the government decided to
implement a special program to face the drought. Lage said that
massive investments began this year and will continue through 2006,
including those to improve water distribution in major cities.

Another program mentioned by Lage has to do with refurbishing urban
water pipelines, where an estimated 50 percent of the water pumped is
currently being lost.

Jose Luis Aspiolea, president of the National Institute of Water
Resources was asked by Fidel Castro to report on the programs to
reduce the losses of potable water. Aspiolea said the necessary
equipment is on the way so that work can begin in 2006.

Fidel Castro pointed out that it is also necessary to help people
reduce the water leaks inside their homes. He said some families do
not have the means to repair their pipes. These are investments we
have to make because the "little" things must go side-by-side the big
plans, he added.

Regarding the water supply problems in Santiago de Cuba, Misael
Enamorado, first secretary of the Communist Party in the province,
noted advances in the building material industry which he said will
make such public works projects possible in the eastern province.

Otto Rivero, vice president of the Council of Ministers, said it is
very important how the political and administrative leadership is
converting each project into a battle of the people. If we want to
build a polyclinic in three months, we need 600 workers, 300 by day
and 300 for the night shift.

On the topic of health, Fidel Castro spoke on the possibility of
graduating some 100,000 doctors from other countries in the next 10
years. To give an idea as to the significance of the project, he said
in the United States such an effort would cost at least 25 billion
dollars. This shows the capacity of the Revolution, he said, noting
that if you add what will be 40,000 medical students in Venezuelan
taught by Cuba professors, the figure would be 35 billion dollars.
However, he made clear that Cuba is not going to charge the Latin
American students.

The president added that Cuba is also training doctors in rural
Africa with the help audiovisual equipment including computers,
televisions, videos, DVDs, and interactive programs. He said solar
panels are being used for power in the many places off the power
grid.

This gives an idea of what our country can do, he said. In 1959 when
the Revolution triumphed, the island had 6,000 doctors, half of which
left the country. I have no doubt the world will recognize the effort
we are making, said Fidel.

Carlos Valenciaga, a member of the Council of State, read a statement
by the first lady of Panama about the Operation Miracle eye-surgery
program in Cuba. The wife of President Martin Torijjos said she was
moved to see the patients operated on for free on the island, adults,
the elderly, and children who have had sight problems for a long
time.

Fidel Castro said all the countries of Latin America and the
Caribbean are going to have that same experience. Someday, he said,
the surgical equipment and our personnel will need to be taken to
other countries to avoid having to transport the patients.

At the end of the exchange, Francisco Soberon, president of the
Central Bank of Cuba, noted the importance for Cuba to find its own
socialist formulas to put in place and the dangers the Revolution
would face if its economy isn't sustainable.

Maria Julia Mayoral, Lourdes Perez Navarro, Raisa Pages, Jose A. de
la Osa and Alberto Nunez






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