[Marxism] Cuba reforms its food production process

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sun Jul 27 12:05:44 MDT 2008

In Cuba, food production is understood to be a matter of national
Security for the revolutionary process. The theme of the capitalist 
media reporting on Raul's speech yesterday was the same everywhere.

My colleague Nelson Valdes observed a little earlier this morning:

  The foreign media constructs a scenario ["Raul Castro will announce
  reforms"]. Then when the reforms that the foreign press expects and
  wants do not occur, the foreign press comes up with headlines like
  "Raul Castro fails to announce reforms" or "Raul fears reform" or
  "Fidel Castro does not allow brother to carry out reforms".

  Of course, what is going on is an attempt to shape the way of looking
  at Cuba. It has no connection with the real events within the island.

  But that is secondary. The foreign media wants to project a
  particular constructed image of the Cuban government, regardless of
  the actual concrete reality. In that manner debate on Cuba is framed
  in a distorted manner that serves other than Cuban interests or the
  truth. That is, the government is not doing the reforms that were
  promised, etc.

  Needless to say, the important policies that have been carried out
  are not reported because they do not fit the neo-liberal dreams of
  the foreign press.

Just to prove the point, I'm going to put the very latest list of
Yahoo news alerts which prove precisely what Nelson was alluding to.
The news alerts are from about half an hour ago. They all provide
the same doom-and-gloom scenario.

You'll find these below Yepe's discussion. For the original Spanish
of Yepe's article, go to the website.

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

Cuba reforms its food production process
By Manuel E. Yepe 

A CubaNews translation by Will Reissner.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.

Since coming to power, and even before, the Cuban revolution has been
characterized by its pragmatism within the context of very firm
ethical principles. Undoubtedly this ability to correct errors and
negative tendencies, without losing sight of the fundamental path,
has been a big factor in the survival of the Cuban vision of social
revolution, which for a half century has faced very complex tests, in
the midst of great dangers.

We know that market economies always resort to centralization to
correct their deficiencies. Similarly, centralized economies must
adopt elements of the market into their systems when adjustments are

In political economy this dichotomy has served both as a critique of
capitalism for its blind dependence on the market and a critique of
socialism for ignoring the market’s stubborn persistence.

Recently, under the guidance of its new president Raul Castro, Cuba
has begun to implement a reform in food production that could be
compared, in terms of its far-reaching economic and social scope, to
the agrarian reforms of the early years of the revolutionary process.

One of the most significant changes has been to turn over idle land,
under the terms of Decree Law 259, for use by state entities,
cooperatives, and any Cuban citizen physically fit for agricultural

The decree’s aim is to reverse the decline in the acreage of land
being cultivated on the island, which fell some 33 percent between
1998 and 2007. After the decree went into effect, farmers were
brought together through their local organizations to describe their
needs in terms of machinery, spare parts, irrigation equipment,
ploughs, wind mills, and other inputs needed to make the best
possible use of the land.

A short time earlier there had been a reorganization of the
agricultural sector, aimed at moving decision-making as close to the
fields as possible by eliminating many intermediary layers. The
municipal delegations of the Ministry of Agriculture took over many
functions that had been carried out centrally or in the provincial
headquarters, including servicing the private farmers and those
organized in cooperatives.

In addition, the state food-purchasing companies, which buy between
70 and 80 percent of the crops harvested by the private farmers,
increased the prices they pay. (Private farmers sell the rest of
their produce directly to the public.) The state farms and farmers’
cooperatives will see similar improvements in price.

More than a few people have objected to the prominence that the
measure cedes to private property within the context of a socialist
project which theoretically is wedded to social property and that
therefore would assign a minor role to individual property and market
production. Factors based on or relating to the survival of the
revolutionary process have made a convincing case in favor of the
measure, which, in effect, borrows elements of the market economy to
use to serve a pressing socialist objective.

More than 15 years ago, General Raul Castro, who was Minister of the
Revolutionary Armed Forces, had warned that, in regard to national
security and the continuation of the revolution, the availability of
food for the population is as important as the weapons that the
country requires for its defense – and is sometimes even more

>From his new post, Raul -- having been named chief of state when the
leader of the revolution Fidel Castro had to retire on doctor’s
orders -- has stressed that securing the country’s food supply is a
high-priority for the nation’s security, at a time when the world
situation makes the food question more pressing, serious, and urgent.

The reform in food production (with shades of a revolution within the
revolution) has barely begun. One immediate objective will be to
reduce the bleeding caused by food imports, which cost the country
$1.6 billion in 2007. This figure will rise some 20 percent in 2008,
with the country spending a total of $1.9 billion to import the same
tonnage of food as in 2007. To this end, work is being done to
improve the retail and wholesale sectors, with measures that include
its sale's price depending on the quality of the product in order to
increase the availability of foodstuffs to replace imports.

In this new test, Cuba can draw on the experiences of the efforts the
island had to make in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet
Union and the European socialist camp, which left the country
virtually without trading partners willing to challenge the criminal
blockade imposed by the United States government with the aim of
wiping us out, a blockade that dates back almost to the victory of
the revolution in January 1959 and that was enacted into law in 1962.

Cuba’s advantage in this stage of its confrontation with the United
States is that, although extreme rightwing forces govern the
superpower, the world context is now different and it is the empire
that is more isolated.


Yahoo! Alerts 	Yahoo! News - My Alerts - Edit Alert
Sunday, July 27, 2008 10:26 AM PDT

Raul Castro fails to announce reforms in Cuba
AP via Yahoo! News Sat, 26 Jul 2008 11:16 PM PDT
President Raul Castro warned Washington that Cuba would keep its defenses up no 
matter who wins November's U.S. presidential election, but failed to announce
any new changes to the communist system during a speech Saturday.

No Reforms On Cuba's Revolution Day
CBS News Sun, 27 Jul 2008 4:14 AM PDT
President Raul Castro announced no new reforms during his Revolution Day address,
but warned that Cuba would stay focused on defense regardless of who is elected 
U.S. president in November.

Florida Travel Agents Fight Higher Bond on Cuba Trips
New York Times Sat, 26 Jul 2008 3:47 PM PDT
Travel agents in South Florida filed a lawsuit against the state challenging a new
law requiring them to post a one-time $250,000 bond and disclose the names of clients
in order to continue their business with Cuba.

Russian missiles in Cuba? Or is Moscow deploying a hoax?
Sun-Sentinel Sun, 27 Jul 2008 7:06 AM PDT
The Tribune's Alex Rodriguez casts a wary eye on mysterious reports of a renewed
military presence in Cuba MOSCOW — If true, the news would have been nerve-rattling

Cuba marks communist anniversary
Deutsche Welle Sun, 27 Jul 2008 5:40 AM PDT
Cuba has marked the 55th anniversary of the start of the communist revolution there
led by former president Fidel Castro.

Cuba-Portville 13-14-year-olds in NYS Final 4
Olean Times Herald Sun, 27 Jul 2008 8:30 AM PDT
ORCHARD PARK - Cuba-Portville is making this whole New York state Junior League 
baseball tournament seem pretty easy. Already having dispatched its area foes with
no hiccup, Cuba-Portville ventured outside the Southern Tier Monday night and encountered
similar results.

Castro: Cuba Won't Let Defense Drop
Hartford Courant Sun, 27 Jul 2008 0:07 AM PDT
President Raul Castro warned Washington that Cuba would stay focused on defense 
regardless of who wins November's presidential election, but did not announce
more changes to the communist system during a major address Saturday night.

No new reforms as Cuba marks revolution
EuroNews Sun, 27 Jul 2008 5:29 AM PDT
No new reforms as Cuba marks revolution

Florida Travel Agents Win Delay Of Cuba Trips Law
The Tampa Tribune Sat, 26 Jul 2008 9:18 PM PDT
Teresa Aral, a travel agent in South Florida, was relieved after learning she did
not have to pay the state a quarter of a million dollars to keep booking trips to

U.S.-Cuba tourism could shake up region
Miami Herald Sun, 27 Jul 2008 0:39 AM PDT
For years, I have thought that Mexico and most Caribbean countries want Cuba to 
remain a dictatorship subject to U.S. travel sanctions for as long as possible, 
because an eventual opening of U.S. travel to Cuba would badly hurt their own tourism

     Los Angeles, California
     Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews
     "Cuba - Un Paraíso bajo el bloqueo"

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