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Human trafficking – the nadir of Castroist socialism

Human trafficking: the nadir of Castroist socialism
FABIO RAFAEL FIALLO | Ginebra | 15 Ene 2016 – 12:14 am.

The socialist model formulated by Marx and completed by Lenin aimed to
be superior to capitalism in terms of its capacity to develop
“productive forces,” i.e. the economy’s technological and material
foundation. It was precisely this alleged superiority of socialism,
according to its supporters, that would spawn a new society of abundance
for mankind in which class divisions would lose their raison d’etre.

To realize socialism’s promise the Soviet Union, and later China under
Mao Tsetung, set about rapidly promoting industrialization,
(Stakhanovism) and collectivizing agriculture.

The result, as we see today, has been a complete debacle. Real
socialism, whether in the Soviet Union, Mao’s China, or anywhere else in
the world, never managed to equal, and far less surpass, capitalism’s
results in terms of technological innovation and agricultural and
industrial growth.

After the failure of Stakhanovist industrialization and the
collectivization of agriculture, it came time for “extractivism” – that
is, the intensive exploitation of underground resources (oil and gas, in
particular) – to drive the development of socialism.

Extractivism came to the fore with “21st-century Socialism,” introduced
by Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, in 1999, in an extremely fortuitous
scenario: oil prices rose more than 1,000% during the first 14 years of
his government.

Despite this very favorable international situation, socialist
“extractivism,” which Chávez called socialismo petrolero, was also
incapable of developing Venezuela’s “productive forces.”

With the oil boom over, and the manna no longer falling from the sky,
Chávez’s catastrophic handling of the economy – with his succession of
expropriations, price controls, modified exchange rates and other
manipulations of the market – has left Venezuela facing an unprecedented
crisis. The inflation rate is the highest in the world, and the lines to
buy basic necessities are getting longer every day.

After the fiasco of “oil-fuelled socialism,” what economic saints are
Marxism’s devoted acolytes going to turn now to keep their faith alive?

The case is that the service sector (medicine and education, port
infrastructure and tourism, among others) was still ripe for
exploitation, and the Castro regime dove right in.

Exporting professionals (doctors, schoolteachers), in order to
appropriate a portion of their wages, is one of the Cuban regime’s
favorite economic tactics to obtain the foreign capital necessary for
its survival.

To do this, ideologically akin governments (especially in Venezuela,
Brazil and Ecuador) have agreed to use Cuban professionals under
contractual conditions that enable the Castro regime to retain a portion
of their wages.

By way of example, the Brazilian Government pays the Government of Cuba
4,255 USD per month for each Cuban doctor hired, while the physician
ends up receiving just 1,245 from the Government, plus a percentage of
this sum in an account in Havana. The rest (over 50%) lines the Cuban
regime’s coffers.

For good reason, the Castro regime’s scheme with the country’s doctors
has been compared to the slave trade in colonial times.

And, like any human trafficking, the victims, in this case the doctors
exported, try to escape their fate, just as African slaves once did.

Hence, hundreds of Cuban doctors, once in the countries assigned for
their work, have opted to defect. Cubans in a range of professions are
using Ecuadorian visas as a way to escape the cage of Castroism. Even
Cuban baseball players go the way of Villadiego to leave behind the
misery wages paid them by the Cuban state.

Havana regularly blames these defections on US immigration policy, which
facilitates entry into the US by Cuban professionals, but it cannot
evade the fact that the vast majority of these professionals yearn and
struggle to settle in countries that guarantee better working conditions
and more quality of life.

In fact, according to the December 2015 decree which reintroduced
restrictions (that had been abolished in 2013) on outgoing Cuban
doctors, the Castro regime claims that they are being lured away by “the
conditions offered by various countries.” (i.e., not just the US).

In this respect Havana’s positions are incongruous. On the one hand it
has been trying to attract, with promises of houses and cars, doctors
who had escaped from Cuba. On the other it is imposing stricter
requirements on those leaving the country. Given this contradiction, and
the danger of not being able to go abroad again if one wishes to do so,
what doctor will want to sign up?

The results have been equally disappointing with regard to the “special
economic zone” of the Port of Mariel, a project launched with great
fanfare in January of 2014 but that, as the BBC World website has
observed: “still does not work.”

The site adds that, in accordance with a decision by the Cuban regime,
workers in the area are to receive “salaries equivalent to those of
public servants, which are limited to a pittance in US dollars per
month.” According to a port worker, the pay is not even enough to buy
the Real Madrid t-shirt he was wearing when he was interviewed (which
was probably a gift from a tourist or a relative living in Spain).

Like the countries purchasing Cuban medical services, foreign investors
operating in Mariel have to hire staff and pay wages (in foreign
currency) through an agency of the Cuban government, which receives the
currency and pays personnel in Cuba pesos at exchange rates that short
workers.

As Dimas Castellanos will analyze in an article published in this paper,
the State ultimately retains two-thirds of the salary in dollars paid by
an investor in the area.

Hence, we are dealing here with a new case of human trafficking, with
the difference that this time it is done in situ, i.e., without
exporting the workers.

With this morass of obstacles and counterproductive controls, there is
no economic sector – industry, agriculture, mining or services – able to
function effectively.

Paraphrasing Lenin, who stated that imperialism would be the highest
stage of capitalism, it could be said that human trafficking marks a new
low for Castroist socialism; that is, its nadir.

Source: Human trafficking: the nadir of Castroist socialism | Diario de
Cuba – www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1452813272_19495.html

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