Exodus, “Modernization,” Solutions and Demands from Democratic Socialism / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos

We democratic socialists have made many proposals for overcoming “State socialism.” We are ignored in spite of our disposition towards dialogue. The past is not the solution for the present, nor for the future.

14ymedio, PEDRO CAMPOS, 4 November 2014 — It is no secret to anyone that in the last year, Cuba has experienced a considerable increase in departures abroad, particularly to the United States, by all possible avenues and, unfortunately, by the most dangerous, in improvised vessels through the Florida Straits and cross-country through Central America, crossing Mexico to arrive at the northern border. Some time ago the topic was broached by the independent and international press. In Cuba…silence.

The problem is, and it must be said loud and clear: The Raulist “modernization,” which offered hope and an interlude of awaiting better times, is not producing the economic, political or social results that it at first awoke among a good number of Cubans. And that is the fundamental cause that is provoking this exodus that threatens to become massive.

Raul Castro’s government itself, without clearly saying it, has recognized it with the announcement of that meager 0.6% growth in the first six months and with the measures taken in the last meeting of the Council of Ministers.

Cuban economists here in Cuba, including some who qualify as official, have publicly manifested their dissatisfaction with the limits and obstacles of the “modernization” measures. This is not about blaming or attacking anyone in particular. But any government, in any part of the world, is responsible for taking necessary measures to guarantee the well-being and contentment of its people.

This silent exodus requires all of us who are interested in the good of the Cuban people to think of solutions, throwing aside all prejudice, mottos, or slogans like that of “without rest but without hurry,” in order to try to find and apply quick, practical and effective solutions.

The Cuban government again blames the imperialist blockade for all ills. But it does nothing even to support the anti-embargo campaign that the New York Times is leading.

The practical measures that it takes do not wind up freeing productive forces, as Raul Castro himself has called for, and they maintain all kinds of obstacles against self-employed work, against the expansion of small business, and especially against autonomous cooperatives, without which post-capitalist society, socialism, is an illusion.

The State, by various bureaucratic mechanisms, keeps monopolizing internal trade and increasingly restricts the least chance for citizens to import small-scale consumer media that the state-military monopoly TRD* stores are incapable of offering.

Even though opposition politics and thought are peaceful and inoffensive, their repression continues.

The internet continues to be inaccessible for the great majority of the population, unaware of its importance and meaning for the broad development of individual and collective abilities, for the market between different sectors and areas of production, for culture and scientific-technical growth.

The supposed decentralization of state enterprises has been nothing more than a simulation with the creation of the Superior Organization of Entrepreneurial Leadership (OSDE), an intermediate link subordinate to the ministers who neutralize the announced entrepreneurial autonomy and, instead of reducing bureaucracy, increase it.

On the other hand, there is not a single movement in the modernization that points to the direct participation of workers in ownership, leadership, management or profits in the businesses that the State considers most important and productive.

Nevertheless, it organizes “cooperatives” in unprofitable state service workshops that are in crisis, with a series of conditions and dependencies that seem more devoted to demonstrating the failure of cooperative business forms than searching for socialist solutions.

What is the consequence? The entrepreneurs, young technical and professional workers who in some way hope to see positive results from the “modernization,” do not see in practice any real rectification of the statist, bureaucratic, and centralized course and, simply tired, they have decided to undertake the adventure of exile.

Raul said that the mindset had to change. And that is absolutely true. But it is also true that a true process of rectification may be hard to carry out by the same ones who for half a century have been working and living with the mentality that has to change.

That philosophy that continues in force is seen every day in the Party press, where the statements of high leaders continue blaming workers and low-level bureaucrats for the country’s serious problems and low productivity, when we all know that the only thing responsible is that salaried, centralized and bureaucratized state model that pretends to change without changing essentially anything.

If Raul does not want to pass into history as a failed follower of willfully traditional policies, he himself will have to produce a change in his mentality, open himself to new times, forget the worn out “Marxist/Leninist” theories of a single-party leader of a dictatorship of the proletariat and of non-democratic centralism, and end up achieving true changes guided by democratization and socialization of politics and the economy.

This demand does not come from Miami, from the traditional opposition to socialist ideas or from any organization financed by “the enemy.” It comes from the last deprived step of the pyramid—“the low man on the totem pole”—with barely a crust of bread on the table, by the right of having sacrificed and delivered the best years of our lives to a revolutionary process into which we poured the great majority of our hopes.

We do it from that generation that today, courting 60 or 70 years of age, has to invent for itself a means of living because the miserable pensions do not cover food for a week; the generation that did not hesitate to step to the front when called upon for Girón (the Bay of Pigs), El Escambray, the Literacy Campaign or the Militias or when they asked us for the unconditional delivery of thousands of hours of voluntary work in the cane, coffee and tobacco fields.

We do it from the right given us for having completed international missions in which life left us, not occasionally but almost daily, for years and on the enemy field.

How to come out from this?

We democratic socialists from Cuba and all over the world have written quite a lot about how to overcome the model of “State socialism” which masks a monopolistic State capitalism. They have never wanted to hear us, or our proposals have been applied in a skewed and incoherent manner although we have always been open to dialogue. But some cheesy bureaucrats have labeled us even as enemies and agents of imperialism.

For ourselves, old now, many sick, veterans of uncounted battles, we ask for nothing; but we do demand with all the strength of our voices, semi-muffled by the years and by intolerance, that they finally taking practical steps, effective for getting the Cuban people out of this situation, so that our children and grandchildren do not have to keep risking their lives in the waters of the Caribbean or crossing Central American borders and so that we do not have to repent on our death beds for having served causes that have turned out to be ignoble.

We also know that there is more time than life and that the past is not the solution for the present but for the future.

For a society of free workers.

*Translator’s note: The State-run stores selling only in hard currency are called “TRDs” – an acronym for the phrase: Currency Collection Stores. In other words, they are designed to ‘collect’ the income some Cubans receive from remittances sent by their family and friends abroad, by selling products otherwise unavailable at hugely inflated prices.

Translated by MLK