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    The Day Fidel Castro Eliminated Private Businesses

    The Day Fidel Castro Eliminated Private Businesses / Baldomero Vasquez Soto
    Posted on February 24, 2014

    On 13 March 1968, on the steps of the University of Havana, Fidel Castro
    delivered a speech where he announced the so-called “Revolutionary
    Offensive” stage, a speech that we consider — from the ideological point
    of view — as the most important among his countless speeches.

    In retrospect, that date represented the final lift-off of the tragic
    journey, with no return tickets. which would lead the Cuban people to
    socialist totalitarianism, toward the hell of misery and repression in
    which we are still living today. For decades, until today, we would also
    feel the catastrophic consequences on the Cuban economy of the measures
    announced and implemented by Castro, which swept away the productive
    fabric of the small urban businesses of the country.

    The Commander in Chief announced, to the leaders of the Communist Party,
    of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, student leaders,
    the unions, and the Women’s Federation, that the time had come: “this
    moment is one for embarking on an all-out, powerful, Revolutionary

    Leaving aside the previous manipulations and deceits, where he swore he
    wasn’t a Communist, he knew he could reveal the intentions that always
    his between his bushy beard because he already controlled, the press,
    radio, television, unions, universities and all the other institutions
    of the country, aside from the Armed Forces.

    The objective of the Offensive was to built socialism, communism in
    Cuba; and to do this, he said, “Capitalism his to be uprooted.”

    What the dictator had in mind, he said without mincing words: “It must
    be said that there will be no future in this nation for private
    business, the self-employed, private industry, or anything.”

    What he proposed, then, was to remove the entire small private
    commercial sector left on the island, since the large and medium
    enterprises had always been expropriated. He would confiscate all the
    small urban businesses and they would become state property, and he
    would turn the business owners into state employees, or his, which is
    all the same.

    To discredit the office of the small businesses, and expropriate them,
    Castro classified commercial activity as unproductive and parasitical.
    He said:

    “There still remains among us a real scum of privileged persons, who
    live on the work of the others and who live considerably better then the
    rest. They are drones in perfect physical condition who put up a stand
    or open a small place and earn 50 pesos per day…if people were to ask
    what kind of revolution is this that allows these groups of parasites.”

    The Revolution against the bars

    Posing as a moralist, as a good Communist, Fidel Castro justified the
    guillotine that he applied to small businesses, based on surveys of the
    Communist Party about the bars of Havana and about small businesses in

    We quote verbatim for the unbelievers:

    “We see incredible things … there still remain in Havana… 955 private
    bars making money hand over fist and selling everything.”

    And the figure is stressed with the histrionics that he always
    performed: “Nine hundred and fifty-five bars!”

    The “investigation” of the bars inquired about data such as gross
    revenues and profits (55% had insignificant earnings of 25 pesos a day),
    Revolutionary attitude (72% didn’t support the Revolution, hence
    Castro’s interest in ruining them) and the type of clientele that
    frequented these businesses (which was classified derisively as
    antisocials). Based on this information, the study recommended that “the
    bars should be operated or closed.”

    The Revolution against all businesses

    The survey of the Communist Party of the small businesses in Havana
    yielded data about the legality and hygienic conditions of the
    businesses, but also about their owners: how many asked permission to
    leave the country and how many ran their companies directly.

    The data did not support the savage expropriation carried out against
    all businesses: 72% were legally constituted, 50% had good hygienic
    conditions, only 5.8% of the owners had asked for permission to leave
    the country and 88% of the owners worked in their businesses. But, none
    of this mattered because Cuba’s owner made his decision. He expressed it
    with the following phrase:

    Gentlemen, we did not make a revolution here to establish the right to
    do business! … When will they completely understand that this is the
    revolution of the socialists? That this is the revolution of the communists?

    The fatal “Cuban March” of ’68

    So, to do away with the “privileged,” “parasites” and “lazy,” in March
    of 1968 Castro attacked small private businesses, to confiscate them all:

    “There were 55,636 small businesses, many operated by one or two people.
    Among them 11,878 grocery stores (bodegas), 3,130 butchers, 3,198 bars,
    8,101 food establishments (restaurants, friterías, cafeterias, etc),
    6,653 laundries, 3,643 barbers, 1,188 shoe repairs, 4,544 auto
    mechanics, 1,598 artisans, 3,345 carpenters.” [Source]

    This commercial raid has been the principal cause of the impoverishment
    that Cuban people are suffering even today, and not the embargo by the
    American imperialists, as the Castro propaganda manipulated in his
    complaint the UN since 1992, and which had echoed through the Left
    throughout the world.

    Cuban Script in Venezuela: War on private companies

    Agnes Heller reminds us that “history, for good or ill, is a learning
    process.” We learn from the ill-starred experience of Cuban socialism
    and recognize the importance of the private sector to generate
    employment, income, goods and services that improve the standard of
    living of the population. We don’t cultivate our anti-merchant
    prejudices, product of nationalized oil, because we play the socialist
    government’s game of war against the businesses. We must openly defend
    private enterprise to stop Venezuela from being turned into a socialist
    hell like that the bearded dinosaur established in Cuba.

    Heller suffered Communism in Hungary. Given our circumstances, I
    conclude with some guiding words of this author:

    “When the majority of the population choose these strategic options
    (like socialism) they have not had any personal experience with them,
    and later they no longer have the slightest possibility of changing
    their mind.”

    Cubanet, 19 February 2014, Baldomero Vasquez Soto

    Source: The Day Fidel Castro Eliminated Private Businesses / Baldomero
    Vasquez Soto | Translating Cuba –