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Posted by on Oct 6, 2009 in Economy, International | 9 comments

Cuba: A Capitalist State?

Guest Post By Leonidas

Leonidas is a frequent, right of center commenter on The Moderate Voice and has been invited as a Guest Voice.

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Castro

The Washington Post reports:

Faced with the smothering inefficiencies of a state-run economy and unable to feed his people without massive imports of food, Cuban leader Raúl Castro has put his faith in compatriots like Esther Fuentes and his little farm out in the sticks. If Cuba is searching for its New New Man, then Fuentes might be him. The Cuban government, in its most dramatic reform since Castro took over for his ailing older brother Fidel three years ago, is offering private farmers such as Fuentes the use of fallow state lands to grow crops — for a profit.

Quite a change for the island nation. Of course the rhetoric must be applied to justify this:

Raúl Castro prefers to call it “a new socialist model.”

The “new socialist model” can be summed up in two words…… profit motive. What brought this on?

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the loss of subsidies from Moscow and Eastern Europe, Cuba abandoned its huge farms devoted to sugar cane — and that land was quickly taken over by marabu, a tenacious, thorny weed that now covers vast tracts of Cuba the way kudzu blankets the American South.

Guess they decided that its actually better to allow some capitalism than let the land sit useless under their previous policies. But what do the people of Cuba think:

Fuentes pointed to his new fields of sweet potatoes, corn, tomatoes, cassava and beans. He’s also growing flowers to sell. Chickens were running around, and trees bore monster avocados. The future looks better. “This is big change,” he said. “Everyone wants in.”

How far will it go? Who knows but one academic has an idea for them:

“If they really wanted to solve their problem, they could solve it in a minute, with the stroke of a pen,” by allowing private ownership and free markets, said José Alvarez, a professor emeritus and authority on Cuban agriculture at the University of Florida.

Is Cuba likely to turn into a capitalist state? Not likely, but they are beginning to face at least the reality that the profit motive will help them to feed their people.

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  • kathykattenburg

    Not likely, but they are begging to face at least the reality that the profit motive will help them to feed their people.Leonidas, did you mean to write, “… but they are beginning to face…”?

    • Leonidas

      Leonidas, did you mean to write, “… but they are beginning to face…”?

      Thanks for catching it Kathy and for fixing T-Steel.

  • Good catch Kathy. That was my fault.

    • kathykattenburg

      Thanks, T. 🙂

  • Father_Time

    Well if Capitalist farming is the efficient utopia, then we should cease all Federal Farm Subsidies immediately and import from Cuba!

    • Leonidas

      Well if Capitalist farming is the efficient utopia, then we should cease all Federal Farm Subsidies immediately and import from Cuba!

      Agree to a large degree, we subsidize agriculture far too much, I would like to see more importing from other countries, particularly African ones. Make no sense to me to send countries aid and then cut markets out from under them with subsidies. Unfortunately, Europeans also heavily subsidize agriculture and complicate the matter. Its one thing to give up market share to countries without subsidies and another to give up market share to countries that are. What I would like to see personally is punitive tariffs vs countries that are doing so and more free trade vs countries that are not, and only subsidize exports to markets where we are competing with the subsidized agricultural products of other nations.

      Not a perfect solution, but a step in the right direction.

  • GeorgeSorwell

    Interesting commentary–nice work!

  • tidbits

    Good post, Leo. Thank you.

  • DLS

    “The ‘new socialist model’ can be summed up in two words…… profit motive. What brought this on?”

    The Chinese example?

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