Tuesday, 16 October 2007

15 concrete proposals to revitalize socialism in Cuba

The Wombats are a bit tired from a long fortnight of intellectual and political stimulation (and traveling to Melbourne and back, so we bring you this very interesting article unabridged and without comment).

By Pedro Campos Santos

via walterlippmann.com
Translated by Dana Lubow
Edited by Dawn Gable

In response to the Party’s call for discussion of Raúl’s 26th of July, 2007 speech

The recently published article: Guiding the PCC [Cuban Communist Party]: an in-depth and open discussion of Raúl's 26th of July speech* describes the need to revitalize socialism in Cuba and provides the theoretical and practical basis for the following 15 interrelated proposals that are intended to strengthen worker and popular control of the economy and society and to set the stage for advances towards self-managed, participatory socialism, a concept toward which many revolutionary professionals and academics have labored for years under the full awareness of the country’s leadership.

Emergency responses to temporary difficulties, without integral restructuring, usually lead to adverse results. That is what happened during the Special Period. Therefore these proposals must be implemented in full in order to prevent counterproductive consequences. The intention is not to prescribe a solution, but instead to simply add to the innumerable suggestions that will surely be put forward in the discussion called for by the Party.

More general measures aimed at strengthening labor and popular power and true Bolivarian integration must be fleshed out and adjusted in the coming months, in accordance with practical demands.

It is necessary— in the middle term— to organize and legislate socialist self-management for business and for all of society. In the short, measures that could guarantee revolutionary continuity, the deepening of socialism and the broadening of mass support are as follows:

15 proposals to revitalize socialism in Cuba

1-Establish the CUC (Convertible Cuban Peso) as the only currency circulating in the country, without changing prices in the hard currency markets, but instead readjusting current prices – in nonconvertible Cuban pesos – for goods and services under state control (electricity, water, telephone, housing, transportation and basic products) to proportion to the average salary which would be about 250 CUC. This would require an immediate increase in the real salary of workers and preparations for the integration of the Cuban economy into a harmonious and expeditious system.

2-Restablish parity between the Cuban Convertible Peso and the U.S. dollar, with a minimal tax on exchange in order to stimulate tourism, controlled foreign investment (preferably indirectly and in the form of mixed companies), remittances, and domestic and foreign economic activity.

3-Distribute equitably and democratically a designated portion of each company’s earnings among its workers, at the end of each productive period— monthly, quarterly or weekly— at all service and production centers. This is totally different from current additional stimulation measures.

4-Democratically elect leadership in all production and service centers. Elected leaders should be subject to the continual possibility of recall and average salaries should be established, without additional perks, to prevent social climbing.

5- Democratically control and plan production in all production and services centers, based on the interests of the labor collectives, discussed with and in concordance with the interests of the municipalities and the nation, with full autonomous control over production plans, costs, expenses, budgets, salaries, earnings and other economic facets in the hands of labor collectives. Inter-business, financial-commercia l contractual relationships should be established among all sectors for the gradual advancement towards equivalent exchange. This will conflict with current budgetary concepts until participatory, socialist self-management is fully established and legalized.

6-Eliminate all obstacles to agricultural production, especially with regard to the UBPC* and turn over idle, cultivable land to individual farmers and preferably to groups of farmers who are interested in forming cooperatives. This should be accompanied by the creation of an efficient national banking network that provides credit to farmers, cooperatives and laborers and by the full deregulation of the domestic market for all agricultural and fishing products.

7-Eliminate the ration book, preceded by the establishment of direct and selective subsidies for low income, retired, single mothers, handicapped and disabled individuals, regulated by People’s Power local chapters.

8-Create commercial cooperatives throughout the retail sector. Retail price controls should be instated and the state should retain control of the wholesale market. Local and regional authorities of the People’s Power should provide oversight.

9-Establish co-managed and cooperative transportation companies to service the cities, funded by state credit and eventually by indirect participation of foreign capital in order to expand urban transportation in the capital and main cities. Self employed taxis drivers should be voluntary grouped into cooperatives supported by the state.

10-Remobilize micro-brigades by workplace to build decent housing for workers, authorize the creation of construction cooperatives and related trades, and streamline legislation, procedures, regulations, credits and the sale of building materials for housing. Some of this is already underway.

11-Eliminate taxes and controls on room rentals between nationals in order to ease the current housing deficit. This should be done by immediately making necessary modifications to the law to guarantee ownership and to prohibit large-scale landlordship. A property tax on housing should be established according to quality, size and location that leads to rational use of building capacities.

12-Freely issue licenses for all self-employment, including street vendors, upon payment of a single, initial fee for permission to operate and exempt from taxes all self-employed individuals making less than 1200 CUC annually
(100 CUC per month, i.e. lower than the salary of any worker once point #1 above is applied.) Eliminate monthly quotas and all the related bureaucracy and corruption and establish a scaled, annually payable income tax set below current rates, which would be determined according to a sworn declaration of income, verifiable by the National Office of Tax Administration.

13-Authorize house, land and automobile sales among nationals, upon payment of taxes and without further restrictions. Permit “flea markets” (used objects) on weekends in neighborhoods and communities where people can gather to sell, buy or barter whatever one wants without control or taxes.

14-Strengthen the tangible power of the People’s Power and establish regional, self-managed, fiscal and budgetary control at the municipal level and bring the police and domestic order institutions under city control thus separating them from State Security, and hand over the prison system with all its personnel and functions to the Ministry of Justice.

15-Submit these and all other proposals to a broad and unrestricted popular discussion, in a horizontal process that includes the press, radio and television, work centers, unions, party chapters, student centers, military units, CDRs [Committees in Defense of the Revolution], FMC [Federation of Cuban Women] delegations, and People’s Power neighborhood assemblies. After being enriched by the people, proposals should be submitted to a national referendum over a period of three months in order to democratically guarantee the effectiveness of the process.

September 2, 2007 perucho1949@ yahoo.es
* http://www.kaosenla red.net/noticia. php?id_noticia= 40452
** UBPC. Basic Units of Cooperative Production

Pedro Campos Santos born in 1949 in Holguín. Degree in history. Former diplomat with missions in Mexico and the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. International political analyst. Researcher at the Center for U.S.
Studies at the University of Havana. Author of dozens of articles and essays about socialism, Cuba, the Untied States and Latin America. Upcoming book releases: "La autogestión empresarial obrera y social: urgencia y garantía de la revolución socialista", "Socialismo Sí", y "La Revolución Cubana y la Autogestión socialista". Currently retired.

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