[Marxism] Electricity rate increases announced in Cuba

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Nov 24 04:22:54 MST 2005

Fidel spoke quite late last night on the Mesa Redonda about all of
these changes. He explained in detail how the price of petroleum
in the world has gone sharply up in recent years while prices for
electricity on the island haven't been raised in DECADES. This was
the dominating feature in both Cuban dailies, GRANMA and JUVENTUD
REBELDE yesterday. These printed three extensive documents to the
Cuban public. These began with the resolution of the government.
It laid out the historic background and international setting.
A second explained salary increases for skilled workers, a much-
welcome step - especially by those who will benefit from it - 
and a third which explained increases in social assistance and in
pensions, which are also being increased across the board. In its
essence, the government is saying that the more electricity you
use, the more you will have to pay. In other words, it's a sliding
scale of prices, which is designed to encourage conservation of a
very valuable resource. All of these changes were framed in the
context of Washington's blockade of the island, the fall of the
USSR and the consequent legalization of the US dollar, the entry
of tourism as principal generator of hard currency incomes and a
social differentiation with Cuban society which has been written
about widely, by friend and foe alike. It's an undeniable reality.

These changes will be discussed and debated, first of all among
Cubans themselves who are of course the first and most important
since they are being affected immediately. A certain amount of
confusion and unclarity exists as people try to figure out the
cost of the new changes and to calculate the increases which the
workers, pensioners and others who receive assistance will get.

The meaning of these will be also discussed, debated and spun in
the internetional media as well, all of which are informed by the
slant they take toward Cuba. Some will say that this proves again
the failure of the Cuban system, as every move always has. Others
will say that these were simply long-overdue changes which Cuba's
system has finally taken note of and taken steps to correct. The
CubaNews list provides readers with a wide selection of materials
from a range of viewpoints so that those who use it can discuss 
developments intelligently. I've never believed in taking anyone's
word for it, and don't now. Cuba's social experiment is trying to
build a society, as Jose Marti would have put it, "with all and
for the good of all". Doing this under blockaded conditions and
with a hostile military base continuing to occupy national soil
(Guantanamo) means Cuba's social and political institutions are
inevitably affected. Being under blockade by the world's most
powerful nation doesn't engender a culture of openness and of
wide-spread debate. How could it?

I wrote about these ecomomic problems/challenges/realities for the
first time in my first extended commentary after I began visiting.
That was in an essay TWO MONTHS IN CUBA which was written in 2001:
http://www.blythe.org/2months.html I have continued following these
developments through the years. Many of the longer reports can be 
found on my website: http://www.walterlippmann.com 

Cuba's revolution is just like everything else in the world: it's
not one thing frozen in time, but a process which has been going
on uninterruptedly, through its ups and downs for 46 years. We're
now opening yet another stages in this process here in Cuba.

We'll see a great deal more of discussion, debate and spin in the
international capitalist and left media as these developments in
Cuba unfold. And let's not forget as well that they unfold within
the world context of Washington's war and occupation of Iraq and
the inevitable resistance it generates, and efforts all over the
world to resist, through such methods as the revolutionary process
now unfolding in Venezuela, the Bolivarian Alternative for the
Americas (ALBA) through which many of Latin America's countries
are working toward economic, social cultural integration. For the
CubaNews list, this means plenty of work ahead and we welcome the
readers' participation.

Whatever anyone thinks of these developments, please consider this:
In what country in the world would the head of the government go
on national television to explain, convince, cajole or whatever 
measures which are causing confusion, debate and uncertainty in
a population whose daily life wasn't easy already? Fidel was on
the Mesa Redonda last night for something like four hours. He's
on TV when nature assaults the country via hurricanes. He's on
TV to announce good news, and to announce bad news. That's why,
for better or for worse, Fidel is Cuba's Commander-in-Chief.

One more thing: the arrest of Santiago Alvarez and Osvaldo Mitad,
collaborators in bring Luis Posada Carriles secretely into the
United States earliler this year, charged with having a cache of
illegal weapons, a false Guatemalan passport, and more, is an
event of the greatest interest. 

Subscribers to CubaNews can access the ten-page court document 
in PDF format at CubaNews FILES:

The file is now also avaiable at my website as well:

Please let me know if there are any problems with this. Thanks.

Finally, since Washington has set itself up as judge, jury and
executioner of the Cuban experience, and has established both a
450 page detailed plan for how Cuba should be reconstructed on
capitalist lines, it's worth noting now that in the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and many other
US cities, that widespread corruption has been unveiled within
the agencies and corporations responsible for the reconstruction:

And at the same time, Washington has told Katrina evacuees their
housing subsidies will end as of December 1:

And while I know perfectly well that this doesn't solve a single
problem inside Cuba, keeping these things in mind as we think of
the Cuban experience, should help us to better frame and understand
some of what Cuba is up against at this time.

To be continued...

Walter Lippmann, CubaNews

Havana. November 23, 2005

Electricity rate increases announced . 
No change to the subsidized rate for the first 100 kilowatt-hours

THE Cuban government has announced a set of measures affecting
electricity rates, wage increases and Social Security and Social
Assistance payments, in a decree signed by President Fidel Castro
issued on November 22.

The document informs that for monthly consumption of the first 100
kilowatt-hours, the current highly-subsidized price of just 9
centavos per kilowatt-hour remains.

The new decree, which constitutes "the first legal measure in the
vital and decisive fight to save energy" - as the document itself
says - indicates that for monthly consumption of more than 100
kilowatt-hours and up to 150, the cost goes up to 20 to 30 centavos
per kilowatt-hour.

>From 150 kilowatt-watt hours and up to 200, the rate increases to 20
to 40 centavos per kilowatt-hour/additional hour.

>From more than 200 kilowatt-hours and up to 250, it is 20 to 60
centavos per kilowatt-hour.

For more than 250 kilowatt-hours and up to 300, it is 20 to 80
centavos per kilowatt-hour.

And for consumption of more than 300 kilowatt-hours, it goes up to 30
centavos to 1 peso and 30 centavos per kilowatt-hour for the
additional consumption.

The decree goes into effect beginning with consumption registered
during the month of December and the new rates will be charged
beginning this coming January.

In addition, the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers and
the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, in unison with this
decree, will apply the new wage increases and social security and
assistance payments.

The increase in electricity rates takes into account the higher price
of $50-plus per barrel of oil.

It also takes into account the fact that, after the disintegration of
the socialist bloc and the Soviet Union in late 1991, the island
entered the so-called Special Period when it was no longer receiving
14 million tons of oil per year.

Moreover, the greatest oil consumption in Cuba is that used for
electricity generation, and in recent years, when those costs
increased several times, electricity rates remained the same, the
decree notes.

Likewise, it warns that the world's proven and probable oil and gas
reserves are inexorably running out, while the pace of consumption
and environmental pollution are growing, at the same time as
climactic changes are threatening life on Earth.

The decree states that a lack of concern on the part of Cuban
citizens with respect to electricity consumption is evident, given
the negligible current prices of that service.

The Cuban state also takes note of the income inequalities among
those who receive relatively low pensions and wages and those who are
benefiting from a large monetary income derived from speculation,
misappropriation of resources and other forms of illicit

The government believes that the new electricity rates will encourage
those citizens who consume little energy and conserve it, and will
discourage excessive consumption by those who waste it.


Fidel Castro Leads Cuba to Energy Conservation

Havana, Nov 23 (AIN) At a time when world oil and gas reserves are
threatened by outrageous waste President Fidel Castro announced that
Cuba is implementing measures to put the island at the forefront of
energy conservation.

President Castro participated on Wednesday's edition of The Round
Table, a nationwide prime time TV and radio program. He addressed
questions on the most recent government measures to encourage the
saving of energy, increase salaries and improve social assistance on
the island.

After months of encouraging the population to conserve energy,
President Castro explained that the increase in electricity rates for
excess consumption was taken due to the increasing cost of oil on the
world market and to promote power savings in the country.

The Cuban leader said the exorbitant price of oil is principally due
to the overuse of the non-renewable energy source in developed
countries. He noted it was time for the island to take action in
order to change the local habits regarding electricity, provided the
population at heavily subsidized rates.

Fidel Castro expressed his concern about the survival of humankind
and said oil has been the cause of wars like the invasion of Iraq.

The president said the most recent measures are geared to create a
culture of energy saving and safeguarding the economy.

Earlier on the program the Cuban leader commented on the salary,
pension and social welfare increases announced Wednesday, scheduled
to take effect before the end of the year.

According to a government decree released early Wednesday, electric
tariffs continue to be subsidized and unchanged for those who consume
up to 100 kilowatts per month. For those consuming more, a table of
progressively increasing rates was put in place as of December.

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