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Coffee – Relations with the US have revealed to the Cuban people the roots of the drop in productivity

Coffee: Relations with the US have revealed to the Cuban people the
roots of the drop in productivity
DIMAS CASTELLANOS | La Habana | 13 de Julio de 2016 – 09:32 CEST.

The statement issued in May of 2016 by the National Bureau of Cuba’s
National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) in response to the US
Treasury Department’s announcement that it would allow independent
producers to export coffee Cuba to the United States should have come as
no surprise. Said statement is a faithful reflection of the entity’s
nature, as the ANAP does not represent the interests of producers, but
rather those of the State, the Government and the Communist Party (PCC).
An examination of its founding premises bases suffices to substantiate

The forming of associations of farmers and employers, a phenomenon that
emerged in the 19th century, was fomented by the freedoms provided for
in the Constitution of 1901, and flourished as part of a struggle to
defend the interests of their members against eviction and for
ownership, better markets, fair prices, low-interest loans and reduced
rents, among others. Decree 16 of January 3, 1934, issued by the
government of Ramón Grau San Martin, institutionalized the mandatory
accreditation of association of producers. In 1937 the First National
Farmers Congress was held, and in 1941 the National Farmers Association
was founded. These developments would establish such associations as a
key institution in Cuban society.

As a result of the shift towards totalitarianism stemming from the
revolutionary process in 1959, private property and the diversity of
farmer and employer associations were eliminated. In October of 1960,
wielding the argument that all sugar mills had been nationalized and,
hence, there no longer were any hacendados (landowners), the most
powerful of these organizations, the Asociación de Hacendados de Cuba,
was disbanded. Next to be eliminated was the Asociación de Colonos de
Cuba, and in December of 1960 the leader of the Revolution advanced the
following idea: “It is necessary for small farmers, instead of being
sugar cane growers, or tobacco growers, etc., to be simply farmers, and
for us to organize a National Association of Small Farmers.” This was an
idea that, as usual, became law.

On January 21 of 1961 all the employer organizations and existing farmer
associations were supplanted by the Asociación Nacional de Colonos,
which was renamed the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) in
May of that year. Appointed to head it up was José Ramírez Cruz, from
the insurrectional struggle and the ranks of the Popular Socialist Party

The objectives of the ANAP were enshrined in its charter, its seventh
statute stating: “To guide and lead the cooperatives and small farmers
so as to comply with the agrarian policy of the Revolution, as well as
the agreements and guidelines laid down by the Party and the
organization itself at its respective congresses and plenary sessions.”

The eleventh article reads: “To achieve, through the organization’s
political and ideological work, successful compliance with production
plans and sales to the State, and to contribute effectively towards the
implementation of the rules and procedures laid down by the economy’s
governing bodies.”

Article fourteen, meanwhile, states: “To carry out profound political
work with farmers so that they do not engage in the sale of agricultural
products illegally; and to exercise, in coordination with the people’s
councils and the MINAG, the control necessary to prevent landowners not
associated with the ANAP from committing violations affecting farmers’
honor and dignity.”

These three items can be summarized as follows: 1) subordination to the
Government’s objectives, 2) the supplanting of the work of private
producers and their private associations 3) the use of the association
to monitor, control and prevent the free sale of their products.

This explains why all the ANAP’s plenary meetings and sessions, ever
since its founding, have been presided over by officials of the PCC’s
Political Bureau, and why in January of 2013, violating the fundamental
principles of these cooperative efforts, they replaced or released from
duty 632 presidents of agricultural cooperatives.

Therefore, in response to the US Treasury Department’s decision to add
Cuban coffee to its list of imports permitted by independent producers
(whose impact was bolstered by Nespresso’s announcement that it would
resume the sale of Cuban coffee in the US), the ANAP, unsurprisingly,
declared its opposition.

It would have been another story if this body actually represented the
interests of its members, who would be the main beneficiaries of the
United States’ decision. Instead of scoffing at the decision, stating
that “no one can conceive of a small farmer exporting directly to the
US,” it should have demanded changes to the State monopoly so that it
would be “conceivable” and a viable opportunity from which its “members”
could benefit.

The ANAP’s subordination to the State, Government and PCC explains not
only Cuban producers’ current defenselessness, but also their apathy, as
reflected in the decline in Cuba’s coffee production; once the world’s
coffee export leader, production has plummeted from 60,000 to just 6,000
tons annually. And it also explains the purchase of coffee from
countries like Vietnam, when it was Cuba that taught the country how to
grow it.

The results demonstrate that the ANAP has never been, nor will it ever
be, able to replace or rival the National Association of Coffee Growers,
or that of the landowners, or that of the ranchers, or the other
associations, which all posted figures much greater than the paltry ones
achieved today, by selling freely on the national or international market.

The State’s monopolistic control, its abusive supply prices, the
countless restrictions to which it subjects producers, its restrictions
on marketing any portions of crops outside the mandates imposed by the
State, its land ownership relationships, its absence of an economic
model capable of efficient production, and its fear of the development
of a middle class, are among the main causes of Cuba’s coffee decline,
the deterioration of agriculture, and the economy in general, and the
new and inevitable crisis the country is headed for as a result of the
loss of Venezuelan oil supplies.

Relations with the US have revealed to the Cuban people the true roots
of the decline in production.

Source: Coffee: Relations with the US have revealed to the Cuban people
the roots of the drop in productivity | Diario de Cuba –

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