Human Rights in Cuba

Time To Change

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Waiting for help

No Rush… and No Results
Posted on March 19, 2014

In 1953, in his self defense statement [as he appeared at his trial for
the Moncada Barracks attack] History will absolve me,
addressed some key issues pending in our country: land reform for
instance. He announced on that opportunity, as a priority in his
program, giving productive land to those in possession of five or less
acres; a nationalistic and democratic project that had its first episode
in October, 1958, when, in the middle of the guerrilla war a bill of law
was issued from La Sierra Maestra. Once he took power, actual laws were
passed–on May 1959 and October 1963–in which property titles were issued
to 100 thousand farmers, but 70% of productive land remained in
government hands.

The new monopoly of the land and the elimination of the institutions of
the civil society related to the agricultural (farming) activity
generated a progressive decrease of the agricultural efficiency, while
about 40% of the productive land of the country became idle; a
regression that was continued until Cuba lost the subsidies from the
former Soviet Union. Since then, the government had spent millions of
dollars to buy supplies that otherwise could had been produced locally.

With such an obvious deficiency of the agricultural production, just
five months after taking over the presidency of the State council and of
the Cabinet, General Raúl Castro, conscious of the deplorable condition
of , expressed emphatically: We have to focus on the land! We
have to get it to produce! And he added, that sooner than later laws and
regulations will be passed to (once again) lease idle lands to farmers
on the condition they make them productive as soon as possible.

One week after his speech, the Official Gazette of Cuba published the
Decree Law 259 on that regard. This measure, could not solve such a
serious problem on its own, might have been valid if this law had been
conceived as the first step in a long way to go, for which a strong
political will is need to face the historical problem of private
property in Cuba, worsened during the Revolutionary government which
promoted large state farms (collectivism).

For its content, the Decree Law 259 of July, 2008 dictated from the
totalitarian optics, evaded the root of the problem. This same law was
just meant to lease small pieces of land of 30 – 100 acres infected with
the marabu weed, and accompanied by multiple prohibitions such as: no
building of houses, warehouses or infrastructure and no hiring of
employees.The absurdity was that the Decree-Law, issued to attack an
inefficiency whose primary cause if the inability of the State to make
the land produce, is limited to offering parcels in usufruct (a kind of
leasing arrangement), that it enjoying the fruits of the work of others,
while the inefficient State reserves the right to keep the property. The
results obtained in these conditions aren’t what was hoped for.

However, even though the above mentioned Decree-Law lacked the power to
increase agricultural production, the law itself was an implicit
recognition of the need for a change. Its main fault consisted of
ignoring the possession of the property in hands of the producers and
keeping the economic decisions subordinated to politics. Given its
unsatisfactory results and the zigzagging process without the political
will required, in December, 2012, Decree-Law 259 was repealed and
replaced with the Decree-Law 300.

The new regulation made some advances such as: allowed the construction
of housings, stores and other facilities; also allowed farmers to hire
permanent or temp workers; and let farmers lease up to 5 acres, though
limited to those that already had leased contracts and were associated
to official entities: State farm, and State Cooperative Farms.

Decree-Law 300 brought the same fault of the previous one, the State
kept the monopoly of land and private producers subordinated to the
State. In its article 11 it states that the lessees can join as workers
State Farms as legal entities, or as member of a cooperative farm, for
which “the lessee yields the right of the land and other infrastructure
to the entity to which he joins, such entity decides whether he
continues working this land or not.”

In addition, the Decree-Law 300 preserved other limitations such as
inputs and services not tied to the mentioned entities, with clear
disadvantages for individuals regarding the term of the contract. Such
limitation revealed once again there was not a strong political will to
bring agricultural production to a profitable level and a desire to
avoid creating domestic entrepreneurs.

The new failure is very well adjusted to the government reforms slogan
of ” no rush but not pause “, in January, 2014 Law 311 was passed, which
modifies Law 300, to extend the leases to up to 150 acres to the most
productive sector of the peasantry, especially to people working for
state farms, that were excluded in the previous legislation. However,
the lease depends on there only being credit and services cooperatives
in the municipality; and b) the State farms as legal entities, basic
units of cooperative production and cooperatives of agricultural
production in the municipality are located at a distance exceeding three
(3) miles of the requested area.

This official data does not explain the fact that after leasing 3.7
million acres of idle lands (since Decree-Law 259 was adopted in 2008),
there has been reported increase in production; although there is
another 2.5 million acres of land idle of the total 15.6 million acres
of potentially productive land in the country. This negative result
reminds us of that phrase of Jose Marti: “Cuba has an enormous potential
to become a wealthy nation, but that is impossible if Cubans cannot be
wealthy as well.”

Translated by: Rafael

From Diario de Cuba

2 March 2014

Source: No Rush… and No Results | Translating Cuba –

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