09 February 2007

Japanese Model?

Japanese Feudalism, maybe.

The Regime is certainly going out of its way to create high expectations both inside and outside the island about the upcoming economic reforms in Cuba.

Cuban Economists are now giving sound bites to the free press about the ongoing “dialogue” within the Cuban nomenklatura on how to reform the Cuban economy.

With Cuba’s Chief Ecomomist on Family Medical Leave, the government economists are having to earn their pay by actually coming up with a plan rather than coming up with rationalizations for the Chief Economist’s plans.

Obviously, all these comments have to be taken with a grain of salt, given the source, but remember that no one in Cuba is allowed to give anything other than the Regime’s position. There are NO personal opinions in public. So, it may be a lie, but it’s most likely the official lie.

In a Reuters Piece in The Washington Post, several Cuban Economists discuss the dialogue:

"There is consensus on our goals: more popular participation, the country's development and a better material and spiritual life," China expert and economics professor Evelio Vilarino told Reuters this week at a globalization conference. "Where there is no consensus is on how best to achieve that."

“A better material and spiritual life”. At least the Regime is admitting that the life of the ordinary Cuban needs some improvement and that there need to be changes in the system in order to achieve them.

Cuban economist and agriculture expert Amando Nova said agriculture reforms of the early 1990s -- when Cuba divided state farms into worker cooperatives and legalized private produce markets -- stopped halfway.

"We need farmers to participate more in production and price decisions, to be able to purchase inputs and in general enjoy more autonomy from the state," said Nova, who is involved in a report on agriculture commissioned by the government.

Luis Marcelo Yera of the National Economic Research Institute, a member of the panel looking into property relations, said Cuba is taking a path closer to one of his favorite Japanese sayings.

"Adapt, don't adopt -- we can adapt the best experiences but not adopt another's model," he said.

Marcelo said the panel was "looking at better defining property under socialism ... because experience has demonstrated it has many problems functioning."

Enigmatic words about private property. Probably means the Regime will allow for the reemergence of small business ownership.

Even more surprising bringing up the Japanese, unrepentant free marketers.

The head of parliament's economic commission, Osvaldo Martinez, told Reuters the
debate over economic policy probably would be taking place even if President Fidel Castro were not too ill to govern.

"We are not talking about the Chinese model, but a Cuban model, the best way forward given Cuba's possibilities, realities, resources and problems," Martinez said.

Some Cuban economists believe that only by adopting China's model of a capitalist market under communist political control, or at a minimum by decentralizing and developing private cooperatives and markets in nonstrategic sectors, can internal production be improved.

Others say any opening would provide the United States with a chance to topple the socialist system.

Agriculture specialist Nova said taking steps to loosen the economy would not threaten his sector.

"Decentralization and more autonomy would result in more production and food security, consolidating our economy and making us less vulnerable," he said.

There is now no doubt that Economic changes are coming. They will not be sweeping changes, just a retread of what was done 15 years ago packaged and marketed as pragmatic, candid and brave actions prompted by the collegial new king.

So there’s where they are heading. They envision an ecomomy where food production and distribution and perhaps even some transportation, which are the government’s biggest headaches would be “decentralized” and “privatized”. The government would still control all the supplies that the entrepreneurs would need to run their small businesses. The supplier, Regime, would make the higher profits and then maybe even tax the earnings. They would also be able to blame the free market for shortages.

Any sectors considered “strategic” would still be government controlled and run. Touri$m, for example, would be taboo.

No major changes here just relieving some pressure from the pressure cooker.

Of Course the Chief Economist used to do this all the time. Make promises and grandiose economic plans that never came to fruition, but it remains to be seen if the new Regime can get away with the same.


Anonymous said...

you write :"it remains to be seen if the new Regime can get away with the same."

In my opinion, of course it can and will (unfortunately!). Change will not happen in cuba; too many cubans socialized in the system down there.. most of my friends on the island are more fearful of Miami than Fidel or Raul. This kind of thinking, while very unfortunate and not based on truth, prevails in Cuba.

its too late. The embargo for the past decades has only helped fuel the myth of fidel and his power.

I stress, most cubans on the isla i know don't really want much change. Continue to deny it. I do every day , until i go back and have some beers with the local folk - - they just see things differently than we do here in the USA.. go figure.. changes in latitudes , changes in attitudes. .

Cubans want freedom yes (and much more of it), but remember that freedom is a subjective term.

Don't think you have the monopoly on truth.

El Gusano said...

of course its a totally different artificial reality over there.

i think what might be different is the Cubans on the street "expect" change and reforms.

if they don't come about, there may or may not be repercussions.

who knows.