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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.



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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