Cuban agriculture
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Cuba Is Still Waiting for the Party

Cuba Is Still Waiting for the Party
January 6, 2016
Erasmo Calzadilla

HAVANA TIMES — As the end of 2015 neared, our winter felt like summer
and Venezuela’s Bolivarian project seemed to collapse.

Back home, things aren’t looking so well. State produce and livestock
markets, chronically understocked, face crises as the prices of crops
grown on the island skyrocket once again. People complain but nobody
protests. This is the context that the last regular session of Cuba’s
National Assembly convened in.

The bi-yearly farce of these National Assembly meetings is a loathsome
spectacle and the bigwigs know it. To make it less evident, they
televise carefully selected clips: an isolated question here, an
isolated reply there. This is how I came across the remarks made by the
Minister of Agriculture.

When I saw him standing in front of the microphones, I thought he would
speak of the produce crisis – explain its causes and advance possible
solutions. But no, my bad, what the minister did was offer a meticulous
breakdown – so meticulous it was almost unintelligible – of the
ambitious investment plans for next year. In passing, as though
complaining, he mentioned that not enough resources had been allotted
the sector to properly care for the crops in 2015 (among other things,
there wasn’t enough fuel).

I have a terrible memory, but it’s not so bad I’ve forgotten the
highfalutin words spoken by Minister of the Economy Marino Murillo
(alias “Bull Neck”) exactly one year ago. Referring to Cuba’s economic
aims in 2015, the minister had promised: “The energy resources needed to
fulfil economic and agricultural plans are GUARANTEED.”

With Venezuela treading the tightrope, these were daring pronouncements
indeed. Perhaps the minister bet on the Cuban people’s characteristic
forgetfulness. I also recall that journalist, a would-be mathematician,
who published a note in Cuba’s official newspaper saying: “Prices are
decelerating and will continue to do so thanks to the measures adopted
by Murillo.”

Let’s come back to the end of 2015. People are going nuts over
understocked State produce and livestock markets and high food prices,
but the regular session of the National Assembly seemed oblivious to
these issues. Then, near the end, when it seemed as though everything
was going to end in harmony, a representative from Yaguajay poops the
party: “Prices continue to rise, we have to do something,” he said.

Surprised at the impetuous interjection, Raul Castro washed his hands of
the issue: “I am not an economist,” he said, handing the hot potato over
to his minister. Begrudgingly, Bull Neck acknowledges the problem and
concurs that something must be done. Ultimately, they managed to steer
people’s attention away from the issue and to blame the ruffians who
re-sell fruits, vegetables and legumes. The curtain went down and
applause was heard.

MY TAKE
Raul, Murillo and the gang of economists who advise them set their aims
on the re-flourishing of the world capitalist economy, in the hopes that
Cuba would finally be able to board the ship. In keeping with this, they
designed and began to implement an intensive, oil and
technology-dependent agricultural sector, a development-at-all-costs
model that does not even renounce to the use of transgenic crops (with a
few strokes of organic farming here and there).

The key piece of the puzzle was the supply and demand market. This
market was greenlighted so a system of rewards and punishments would
give the system its finishing touch. But things didn’t go as planned,
demand was never (not even remotely) satisfied and the free market fell
under the control of the local business cartels.

What went wrong? It was a chain of events: the world capitalist economy
did not re-flourish, hard currency revenues vanished, Cuba was unable to
buy supplies and equipment and even oil was scarce.

The lesson of this story is: to plan for the future, neglecting the
imminent, worldwide energy crisis, guarantees our failure.

Source: Cuba Is Still Waiting for the Party – Havana Times.org –
www.havanatimes.org/?p=115917

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