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    Exodus, ‘revision’ and doublespeak

    Exodus, ‘revision’ and doublespeak
    ROBERTO ÁLVAREZ QUIÑONES | Los Ángeles | 23 Nov 2015 – 8:50 pm.

    The unstoppable wave of Cubans leaving the island, the largest migratory
    stampede since the Mariel Boatlift in 1980, is the most vivid
    illustration of the failure of the “revision of the socialist economic
    model,” dramatically discrediting those who praise Raúl Castro’s reform

    A total of 43,159 Cubans, according to official figures, emigrated to
    the United States in the last fiscal year, ending September 30, up 77%
    compared with the preceding period (24,278), surpassing the 1994 exodus
    during the Boatlift (32,362). There is currently a humanitarian crisis,
    with almost 2,000 Cubans trapped in Costa Rican territory because the
    pro-Castro regime in Nicaragua will not allow them to continue on to the US.

    All those who have reached the US recently report the same thing: they
    had to leave Cuba because nothing has really changed there, nor will it
    so long as the Castro family and its generals are in power.

    How can Cuba be benefitting from reform when the desire to emigrate by
    any means possible is only growing? Some argue that fears that the Cuban
    Adjustment Act will be repealed have triggered the stampede. This may be
    a factor, but frankly this many people do not abandon their country,
    family and friends, customs, historical environment and culture if they
    have any hope of a better life in their homeland.

    It seems that Cuba is the only country in the world where the government
    is not measured by the results it achieves, but rather the (empty)
    promises its political leaders make. This peculiar style of government
    was introduced by Fidel Castro in January of 1959. Back then he promised
    elections for the President of the Republic, and several weeks later
    asked: “Elections? What for?”

    After replacing Fidel at the head of the government, Raúl Castro
    promised a daily glass of milk for all Cubans, and announced profound
    structural changes because workers’ wages were insufficient to cover
    basic needs. Today even less milk is produced than back in 2007, and the
    salary (24 dollars) is half that in Haiti (59 dollars) and the lowest in
    the West. And the structural reforms?

    With preparations underway for the Seventh Communist Party Congress
    (PCC), scheduled for next April, Castro’s leadership does not even
    mention the economic “Guidelines” issued by the Sixth Congress (2011),
    which constituted their latest litany of promises. In a threatening tone
    (his style) the new dictator announced the restructuring of the State’s
    economic apparatus to augment industrial production, deliver services of
    the quality “that the people deserve,” and to support the self-employed
    engaged in authorized trades (exclusively for the rendering of
    precarious services typical of medieval times).

    Raúl’s gatopardismo

    It was all a lie. General Castro and his military regime practice
    doublespeak, or gatopardismo, a term used in political life stemming
    from the novel El gatopardo (The Leopard), by the Italian Giuseppe di
    Lampedusa (1896-1957), in which the author presents the paradox of
    making changes, but in such a way that everything remains exactly the same.

    Raúl’s gatopardismo was summed up Colonel Marino Murillo, Deputy Prime
    Minister, at a meeting with the National Association of Economists in
    October of 2013: “The revision must be understood as a modernization of
    management that makes state ownership more efficient and facilitates the
    extensive development of our productive forces, but this should not be
    understood as a change to the structure, based on state ownership. This
    should be made clear. “

    In other words, the PCC ordered a reshuffling of the bureaucracy, but no
    real freedom for workers. None of the economists on hand pointed out to
    the Vice-President that state ownership is precisely what prevents the
    Cuban people from producing wealth.

    Moreover, there is nothing modern at all about this “modernization.”
    It’s an old formula, applied in the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death,
    termed “socialist economic calculation” – an absurd contradiction
    according to Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and the whole Austrian
    school of Economics, who showed that this is not possible in an economy
    that suppresses the market and private property.

    Soviet businesses had more autonomy. They received a percentage of
    profits, and their workers could double or triple their income if they
    surpassed centrally-set goals. The same was done in all of Eastern
    Europe, with even more daring versions in Hungary, Poland, Romania, and
    especially in Germany, with its industrial combines. But these stopgap
    solutions did not prevent European socialism from crashing down.

    In Cuba half a century ago a “revision” could have been viable; that is,
    Soviet economic calculation. But it was blocked by the visceral
    opposition of Che Guevara, supported by his pupil, Fidel Castro, as they
    clung to their shared Stalinist principles. What was established was a
    fully centralized budgetary system, typical of the Stalin era, despite
    the recommendations of Carlos Rafael Rodríguez, the only competent
    economist in Castro’s leadership at the time, and a proponent of
    economic calculation.

    Of course, Rodriguez threw in the towel when he saw the Castro-Guevara
    (who knew nothing of economics) duo describe material incentives (money)
    as a “betrayal of socialism,” instead giving them “little flags” and
    moral incentives in the Socialist Emulation to form the “Communist
    consciousness of the new man.”

    Since April 2014, half a century late, the post-Stalinist Soviet
    revision is being implemented on the island. It is one of Raúls
    “achievements” that Cuban state companies are now doing what they could
    have begun doing 54 years ago: sell certain surplus production at prices
    dictated by the market, take half the revenues, and establish higher
    wages for their employees if there are profits. The central government
    decides what is produced and how much.

    But, as Von Mises noted, economic calculation cannot be totally applied
    in Cuba (neither was it possible in the USSR) in the pursuit of
    efficiency, which is impossible under socialism, due to its intrinsic
    inefficiency. Above all, the astronomical costs of production must be
    reduced, for which the excessive number of State workers must be
    reduced. This is unworkable if there are no private capitalist forces to
    employ this painfully squandered productive force.

    The regime estimates that redundant workers represent over 40% of the
    total workforce at State companies, or about 4.2 million employees. In a
    hypothetical private sector, if each of the 1.6 million state workers
    who do practically nothing produced $25,000 a year in value, the
    country’s Gross Domestic Product could be virtually doubled.

    Clearly, there is no reform underway in Cuba. The chronic economic
    crisis will continue to degenerate if the country’s productive forces
    are not unleashed and a vibrant private sector does not emerge in the
    areas of industry, trade, agriculture, and throughout its economic
    activity. The PCC is far from what Lenin did in 1921 when he launched
    his New Economic Policy (NEP), the capitalistic reform measure that
    ended a terrible famine devastating Russia.

    The migratory drain, taking its toll on the most valuable asset of any
    economy, its human capital, is a historic crime of doublespeak,
    perpetrated by the dictator and his military junta.

    Source: Exodus, ‘revision’ and doublespeak | Diario de Cuba –