For almost 60 years Cuba has successfully defended its socialist revolution against a steady onslaught of US aggressive actions, serious enough at times to warrant extraordinary measures.Cuba, for...
For almost 60 years Cuba has successfully defended its socialist revolution against a steady onslaught of US aggressive actions, serious enough at times to warrant extraordinary measures.
Cuba, for example, established alliances with the Soviet bloc of nations in the early 1960s, readjusted its economy and politics following the Soviet collapse, and sharpened its intelligence capabilities in response to terrorist attacks continuing into the 1990s.
Another set of far-reaching measures is in order now. The Donald Trump administration, intervening aggressively, has disabled both embassies, added restrictions on US travel to Cuba and on spending there, limited remittances Cuban-Americans send to family members on the island, continued to recruit and finance a political opposition, and implemented Title III of the 1996 Helms Burton Law – aimed at discouraging foreign investments in Cuba.
These actions compound Cuba’s pre-existing economic difficulties, among them: excess imports, insufficient exports, reduced agricultural production, decreased worker productivity, and heavy foreign debt.
On June 27 Cuba’s Council of Ministers announced a comprehensive, multi-faceted response to the recent US aggressions. As reported by Granma, the newspaper of Cuba’s Communist Party, and by other Cuban media, the Council’s decisions constitute an agenda for ongoing planning of multiple processes leading to change. The ministers in their statements appealed to Cubans’ sense of nationhood, unity, and culture.
Alejandro Gil Fernandez, Minister of Economy and Planning, provided a summary. The government seeks to increase production generally, diversify and increase exports, substitute endogenous products for imports, promote “productive chains,” strengthen state enterprises, bolster food sovereignty and food production, promote local development, fully implement housing policies, and put “science at the service of solving economic problems.”
Gil Fernandez and Minister of Finances and Prices Meisi Bolaños Weiss joined in discussing salary and pension increases taking effect in July. By the end of 2018 the average state-sector salary had risen from 600 pesos per month to 871 pesos, and as of July will be 1067 pesos. The idea is that increased salaries and pensions will facilitate consumer purchases and thereby stimulate domestic production.
Price controls and anti-inflation measures will be in effect. Future salary increases will depend largely on worker productivity. The cost of the increases is being squeezed into the 2019 budget. To prevent a shortfall, transfers of state funds and their use will be more tightly controlled than in the past, and state agencies will cut spending in other areas.
Miguel Díaz-Canel, Cuba’s president and president of the Council of Ministers, on July 2 discussed the reforms on national television, as did other ministers. “We come to this Round Table,” he announced, “to summon everyone to engage in this work with intelligence and love.” And “we have not renounced – nor will we – the idea that our small economy, under siege for these 60 years, will be prosperous and sustainable.” Despite “a U.S. craving for us to return to the Special Period, we are now in better condition to overcome difficulties.”
Salary and pension increases, Díaz- Canel maintained, will lead to coherent pricing and prepare the way for an end to subsidies and Cuba’s dual currency. Those benefiting represent “the sector in which the conquests of the Revolution are defended; they offer important public services.”
He called upon workplaces to implement the proposed changes and asked that Cubans align personal interests with the interests of society.
The quality of political leadership emerges as a decisive factor as Cuba copes with the US war, without guns and with lingering problems of its own.
Excerpted from: 'Cuba and a New Generation of Leaders Respond to US Anti-People War'.