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Posted June 03, 2009 by Cubana in Castro's Cuba

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By Jorge Olivera Castillo

About the author: Cuban poet and journalist Jorge Olivera was sentenced to 18 years in prison for giving the true information about the real Cuba. He was arrested together with other 28 independent journalists during the so called Cuban Black Spring in 2003, when there was a crackdown on the Cuban opposition. He was sentenced in 24 hours without the possibility to talk to his defender. In December 2004 he was released on medical parole – he almost lost his sight and his health conditions were rapidly worsening. Now, Jorge Olivera Castillo is a head of unofficial PEN Club Cuba.

They prefer designer trainers and firm steps on paved roads. The countryside is a distant phenomenon, a frozen image which has lost all its splendor and is stored somewhere on the back shelves of their memory.

A mattock, a rake, a yoke of oxen, a straw hat, country boots and the burning midday sun…but all this is old history, something that the current younger generations find too common and tasteless. 

Any willingness to work the land, such as sowing fields and harvesting crops, is greeted by an enormous flood of apathy, which threatens to break through the dikes that still miraculously protect our country from utter devastation.

Proposals suggesting that young people could return to the country are usually met with annoyed faces and with reactions that clearly express their strong dislike for the idea: “Have you gone mad?” Although many people opt for a more discreet form of rejecting this possibility, deep inside they all strongly wish to pronounce those four words which perfectly depict their flat out refusal to work on farms.

After several steps in the wrong direction, which were attempts to change the social-economic environment, the Cuban Government is now seeking for a way back. In the past, the leadership insisted on an absurd program of industrialization, which favoured urban growth at the expense of rural development.  However, their projects, which failed to bring about any sustainable results in agriculture, started from a false premise as to the real possibilities of our country. 

It was a big foolish mistake to adopt special decrees and other harmful instruments, which would force millions of young people to schools, which neither took into consideration their vocational profile, nor the criteria which the students have to meet in order to succeed in their field. The revolution has produced a great many doctors, scientists, engineers and scholars, but for some reason the Government given so little importance to farmers and has undervalued their role in the society.

The lack of balance that exists today is a direct result of the fact that while running the country our Government has been applying the same methods as the ones used by sergeants to control their infantry squads.

Instead of good sense and hope, the massive dimension of the project and the virus of the revolution have seeded thunder. Now as the storms are growing stronger, their weather forecasts only dare to provide very general information, which try to conceal all of the negative implications that might end in an apocalypse.

The possibility that young people could improve country statistics is unthinkable. According to official figures, they only account for 6% of the overall labor force engaged in agriculture.

I doubt that their percentage will reach double digits in the upcoming years, unless measures begin to be taken that could wake up the sense of duty hidden behind the walls of a patriotism that are becoming more and more porous.

Some members of the Communist Youth Association are already engaged in a campaign to raise public awareness that tries to make young people more interested in agriculture.

Even if they achieve an increase in the number of farmers, we have sufficient reasons to predict that everything will end up as a huge failure.

Quantity does not mean quality. This obsession has already brought about too many disastrous results to continue following it, but it is possible this could be the only remaining option.

In 2009, the contradictions of our system – one which lacks future and is riddled with inefficiency – have now become more visible.

Between 1959, when the revolution began, and 1968, when the Revolutionary Offensive made it much more radical, we buried all customs and traditions that had reflected our love for the land and which had helped us achieve enviable production results, which may in no way be compared to our current output.

A significant number of the younger descendants from the families that are living in the countryside, wish to live in towns, preferably in the capital. They don’t want to know anything about sowing seeds or irrigation.

Instead, they are thinking about how to get married to a foreigner, in order to escape the island. They dream of spending entire nights partying at discos or just sitting by the sea on Malecón and watching the stars.

In Cuba, people lost the habit of working a long time ago. Being bent over a shovel to plough a row in a field is something that only appears in old photographs. Young people do not know how to work and are incapable of facing the reality which surrounds them.

Persuading someone living in Havana that he or she should go to work in the country is the easiest way to get a quick laugh or to be called by a great many names which, from an ethical point of view, cannot even be put on this paper.

One thing is certain: the Cuban countryside goes on falling into decay. I doubt that anyone would dare to deny this. There are quite a few signs indicating that even the worse case scenarios could become true, and we can certainly expect them make mistakes.

We may also expect to see fireworks, the full-time operetta ensemble, hired blockheads and a group of interpreters reciting the most recent odes to the revolution. Frauds get no rest. They work full-time and extra hours. When planting lettuce and picking mangos, they might even be the most efficient ones.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on June 03, 2009 by grant with 48 total posts

    This old boy is a bit bitter, no wonder since he lost his 100 dollars a month from the americans to write half trues on Cuba in 2003

  2. Follow up post #2 added on June 03, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Did you took the time to read the article before giving your sided opinion? What he says is the true, period. Obviusly is difficult for you to understand what he is talking about when you are being brainwashed with the procastro agenda.
    How much are they paying to you or it is only for the free Mojitos and roasted pork?

  3. Follow up post #3 added on June 04, 2009 by Cubana with 282 total posts

    Obviously grant is one of the “hired blockheads” Jorge writes so eloquently about!!!

  4. Follow up post #4 added on June 04, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Take a look at this,
    ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRz34Dee7XY&eurl=http://www.organicconsumers.org%2 )It looks like Feb 2008 this was taken by the BBC. Maybee those Cubans are intelligent enough and resourcefull enough to actually grow their own food.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on June 05, 2009 by Cubana with 282 total posts

    The trouble is its not enough. Most of the food consumed by Cubans is imported. That is the real scandal of the revolution - after 50 years Cuba cannot feed itself and has to rely on the US.

  6. Follow up post #6 added on June 05, 2009 by paul

    They resort to growing food because the government fails to provide food for the population (who unlike the nomenklatura, actually has to ration). I’m surprised that they don’t consider growing food counterrevolutionary.

    Funny how eco-hippies always talk about Cuban organic farming, when it’s boils down to government inefficiency.

  7. Follow up post #7 added on June 05, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    What it boils down to is people taking the initiative and doing things for themselves.

  8. Follow up post #8 added on June 07, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Here is some more Cuban farming initiative and expertice that even interests the outside world (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnLvP57UWh8) from July/07

  9. Follow up post #9 added on June 08, 2009 by Cubana with 282 total posts

    Many Cubans would like to do things for themselves, like setting up their own businesses, but are prevented from doing so by the Cuban government.

  10. Follow up post #10 added on June 08, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    You can clearly see in these youtube videos that some Cubans are setting up their own little buisinesses selling veggies, seeds and garden tools etc and doing well with it. Let’s hope that this continues. I always thought that the government made a big mistake in stopping small farmers, fishermen etc. from selling their wares directly to the people in their area as this solves a couple of problems, the government growing, providing and distributing all of the food. Now that they are making land available free to people with the promise to work it or put animals on it is a good thing.  What they need to do now is expand this concept.

  11. Follow up post #11 added on June 08, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Yea right. We have been waiting 50 years for them to expand that concept.
    All those ”initiatives” have been very controlled and still government owned. The government is trying to reduce the small private ownership at all costs rather than to expand it. Is a matter of ideology, they consider that the small private enterprise goes against the core of the Socialist System.

    Today it was announced that the government is trying decentralize the agricultural market, however when they say decentralize they mean that is going from the Ministry of Agriculture to government created and owned enterprises that still would be under the Ministry of Agriculture umbrella.

    They have studied and entertained the Chinese model (mainly Raul and his people) for many years now, however, although most economists agree that a model like that would be much better than the present, Fidel Castro has never agreed to go ahead with it, maybe we have to wait for the natural solution.

  12. Follow up post #12 added on June 08, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Yeyo, you must not be following the posts in Havana Journal as it was around the beginning of the year that the gov. approved a bunch of idle gov. land use transfers to Cubans who only had to agree that they would work the land or put animals on it to get it. Don’t you remember that? In the “Seeds in the City” video, the woman in the seed store said she buys the seeds from the gov. and marks them up to make her wages. I talked to a farmer the last time I was in Cuba and he said he was doing well selling his extra produce to the public. My cunado says he is going to be planting soon.

  13. Follow up post #13 added on June 08, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    I guess that’s a good news, however I was referring to the today’s announcement that the main food production and distribution would be “des-centralized” from the Ministry to government enterprises that would be in charge of the production and distribution of agricultural products.

  14. Follow up post #14 added on June 08, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Yeyo, read Juventude Rebelde . cu June 8/09 about how the gov. is going to try an agricultural experiment on Aug1/09, in the province of Havana, opening up the agro markets to let farmers grow and distribute their own produce all by themselves etc. Sounds like they are letting small buis. regulate the production and distribution of food and take over the payment of workers with minimal gov. interference plus bonuses to boot. Sounds like small buisiness may be about to play a big role in Cuban agriculture.

  15. Follow up post #15 added on June 08, 2009 by paul

    LoL @ referring to Cuban websites for news. Refer to Fox news while you’re at it.

  16. Follow up post #16 added on June 08, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Oh, I bet you read the Washington Examiner the Miami Herald or the CIA news for your info. They probably would be more to your taste

  17. Follow up post #17 added on June 08, 2009 by paul

    I know you are but what am I. Don’t get mad papito.

  18. Follow up post #18 added on June 08, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Paul, you schould read it. I guarantee you won’t turn into a commie if you follow the directions. “Experimentan nueva formula para el Acopio y comercializacion de productos agricolas” Put on your green sun glasses so it blocks out the red comunist conversion rays.

  19. Follow up post #19 added on June 09, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Now that’s funny.

    Cuba consulting services

  20. Follow up post #20 added on June 09, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Sorry, I would not read Juventud Rebelde because 70% of what they said is a lie and the rest is pure propaganda.
    In regard to the article you mentioned, it clearly says that the whole new “experiment” in Provinces Habana and Ciudad Habana is related to decentralizing the distribution of agricultural products from the Ministry to movement enterprises that would have autonomy to set prices, pay bonuses and distribute the products freely.
    Now if you have been reading the news for a while, you would know that the “new experiment” is not that new. It had been tried few times before and it would always end with the government putting lot of people in jail for illegal enrichment and then going back to the centralized way of doing things.
    I sincerely hope that it goes better this time but based on 50 years of long experience I also doubt that it would be different this time.

  21. Follow up post #21 added on June 09, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Yeyo, you said you won’t read it but it looks like you did. Did you wear your green sun glasses for protection?
    There is a difference between reporting projects and editorializing or propagandizing.  If this does come about, to open small autonomous empresas that will be given funds, make contracts with farmers and to procure their own produce for market. Small co-ops to can vegetables, make dulce etc. I can’t remember them ever opening it up this much before. You forgot, set wages to their workers, arange their own transportation to market to eliminate wastage etc.
    No, the experiment is not new, it resembles a free market.
    Lets be optomistic and see what happens.

  22. Follow up post #22 added on June 09, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    I actually read it on the Miami Herald. Amazing hah! You thought that I had read it on the Juventud Rebelde. So now the Miami Herald and the Juventud Rebelde have the same sources? Maybe just news.
    Going back to the “experiment”. Something like that was done years ago with the farmers cooperatives and end up with the government not giving any resources to the cooperatives and trying to convert them into government run enterprises.
    I want to be optimistic and sincerely hope that it works for the good of my people but again, based on so many failed intents I have some doubts.
    Your exaggerated hopes are in line with all our good expectations when Raul Castro came to power, we all thought that things were changing for good, and what we got? More of the same.
    The experiment does not resemble the free market but actually it remind me of years ago another bad economic crisis when the government had no other option than to open the “free farmers market”. Do remember ? Maybe so many resemblances are only coincidences.
    Definitely we have to be optimistic; we have been for so many years now that we have specialized on it.

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