[Marxism] Translation (Cuba): Guidelines debate 18, Agriculture

Marce Cameron marcecameron at gmail.com
Sat Sep 3 01:23:25 MDT 2011

>From "Cuba's Socialist Renewal"
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Here is Part 18 of my translation of the booklet Information on the
results of the Debate on the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines for
the Party and the Revolution, an explanatory document published
together with the final version of the Guidelines adopted by the Cuban
Communist Party (PCC) Congress in April.

I've now translated some two thirds of this explanatory document which
is arguably one of the most important in the history of the Cuban
Revolution, not only because of its content but because of the
unprecedented popular debate that resulted in substantial
modifications to many of the guidelines and the incorporation of new
guidelines. What we see in these modifications is the depth, scope and
direction of this consultative and consensus-building process.

The entire project of renewing Cuba's socialist course depends on the
transformation of Cuban agriculture, and the changes to Cuba's
socialist-oriented economic model under Raul Castro's presidency have
begun here. The importance of agriculture is reflected in the fact
that the English translation of this chapter of the Guidelines
explanatory document runs to almost three and a half thousand words.

The outstanding success of Cuban agriculture during the Special Period
has been the concerted effort to develop and generalise a new
agricultural paradigm, known as low-input sustainable agriculture,
that combines traditional farming methods with scientific knowledge,
high-tech green innovations and the social cohesion and solidarity
embodied in Cuba's socialist revolution. A world leader in sustainable
agriculture, Cuba is a laboratory for the large-scale application of
sustainable practices, such as the proliferation of urban organic
farms with state support, that those of us in developed capitalist
societies can only dream about this side of the socialist revolution.

Despite these remarkable achievements, Cuban agriculture in general
has fallen into a parlous state of neglect and mismanagement during
the Special Period symbolised by the spread of marabu, a tropical
thorn scrub that has taken over vast areas of prime agricultural land.
There has been an exodus from rural areas to the cities. Reforms
undertaken in the early 1990s to transform huge state farms into
cooperatively managed entities did not go far enough, leaving
cooperatives under the tutelage of a centralised administrative
apparatus that is both inefficient and inept.

Bold reforms in this sector, such as the leasing of unproductive state
farmlands to anyone willing to farm it and the devolution of planning
from the Ministry of Agriculture in Havana towards the municipalities,
are aimed at freeing agriculture from bureaucratic tutelage, making
farming an attractive option in the context of the economy-wide
rationalisation of state-sector employment and using market mechanisms
judiciously to stimulate production and productivity without
privatising the farmland that belongs to Cuba's working people as a

The challenge is to turn Cuba from a country that imports billions of
dollars worth of food annually into a socialist-oriented society with
a vibrant and dynamic agricultural sector, avoiding the concentration
of land ownership side by side with rural poverty and ecological ruin
that would result from allowing market forces too much of a free
reign. Guideline 187 affirms that the goal is "a sustainable
agriculture in harmony with the environment".

The reforms so far are starting to take effect but they have yet to bear fruit.

Link to translation:

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