Monday, December 21, 2009

Employment & Social Measures Needed in Cuba

Employment & Social Measures Needed in Cuba
December 21, 2009
Pedro Campos*

HAVANA TIMES, Dec. 21 - All seems to indicate that the leadership of the
Cuban government/party has begun to understand the pernicious character
of its paternalism.

As the natural consequence of its statist conception of socialism, this
phenomenon has engendered "nestlings" (those who are accustomed to
waiting for everything from "Papa State").

This change is evidenced by the recent appearance of articles and
commentaries in the official press that openly defend cooperativism and
self-employment as socialist economic options.

These measures would clearly help work collectives, social communities
and individuals who could -based on their own capacities- become
self-sufficient in products and the mediums necessary to buy or exchange
additional goods to satisfy their basic needs.

In addition to the long-awaited suspension by the state of all
bureaucratic obstacles that restrain the free initiative of workers and
individuals, it will be important to introduce ideas that offer all
institutions the opportunity to somehow contribute to the development of
their autonomy and to make them less dependent on state budgets and

The bureaucratic apparatuses, interested in maintaining centralized
control, will oppose the development of proposals for self-management,
which would develop labor and social collectives to obtain their own

However, this would run counter to the general strategic line of the
country's leadership, which -still with its contradictions- is beginning
to lean toward the decentralization of the control of resources and

We need to help this along from "below."

There are initiatives (some quite old) that can be generalized as the
vegetable gardens for self-consumption at jobs and schools. These
include: the holding of "flea markets" between neighborhood residents to
sell or exchange items unused by some but needed by others, cooperation
between neighbors in the repair of housing and the improvement and
cleaning of common areas; the direct sale of production by factories and
companies and direct sale to the public of products and services outside
the normal company plans, making use of scrap and discarded materials.

Many schools and research centers have enormous potential that is
unexploited due to obstacles erected by the bureaucracy and
centralization. However, in the current circumstances, given the
inability of the State to supply resources needed by these centers,
these institutions could be put to work by the initiative of the workers

For example, universities and scientific centers could publicize their
services internationally via the Internet, offering these and getting
paid for them to the principal benefit of their own institutions. This
would be done while paying the State a minimum tax (in those present
cases where this is permitted, these taxes are extremely high).

Scientific research and work produced by teachers and students could be
offered to increase revenue for their centers. Likewise, associations
of graduates could be created to foster cooperation between them and
their former institutions, even forming "councils" to promote the
development of these and other entities of that type.

All of this would deploy initiative, exploit existing capacities, break
ties of dependence and give free rein to the powerful autonomous forces
possessed by the workforce.

*Pedro Campos articles can be read in Spanish in the SPD bulletin.

Employment & Social Measures Needed in Cuba - Havana (21
December 2009)

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