What Will Happen if Chavism Falls? / Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique

Nicolas Maduro with Cuban doctors in Venezuela

Some 18 thousand Cuban doctors in Venezuela earn the government 4 billion dollars. And what about the oil?

HAVANA, Cuba – The Cuban regime is on tenterhooks about the situation in Venezuela, whose economic support, primarily through payment for medical services and the supply of oil is very advantageous.

Currently there are about 18,000 doctors from the Island in Venezuela, whose earnings bring the Cuban state at least 4 billion dollars.

At the recent closing session of the 20th Congress of the Cuban Workers Confederation, Raul Castro said that, “… the main income of the country right now comes from the thousands of doctors working abroad,” but he should have referenced not the work of these people but their exploitation by the regime.

Of the 82,065 doctors reported by the National Statistics Office at the end of 2012, Minister of Health Robert Morales said that as of two months ago, 56,600 were working outside the country.

This explains why the goods and services balance is a positive 1.265 billion dollars, while exports were down, mainly in nickel, sugar and oil, which in the latter case has become an export thanks to the resale of the Venezuelan oil on the international market. continue reading

In the tourism sector, whose gross income is currently in the range of 2.7 billion dollars, the national income is only about 65% because more than 900 million dollars in imports goes to supporting the activity. Net revenues are also affected by the quality and flow of visitors, which although the number of tourists are increasing, they are spending less.

Cuban doctors on health mission abroad
Cuban doctors on a health mission abroad

The financial situation has already worsened in 2014, with the expected fall in export prices of sugar and nickel, so that a worsening of the situation in Venezuela, with any decrease in the oil shipments and payments for services, would be catastrophic for the regime.

The general president, in his last speech, gave forthwith unforgivable gibberish when he confessed, “… wages don’t meet all the needs of the worker and his family, which generates demotivation and apathy toward work…” However, he also said it would be “… irresponsible and have counterproductive effects to give across the board increases in wages… which could cause an inflationary spiral in prices, if not appropriately backed by a sufficient increase in the offerings of goods and services.”

Did he not know what he was saying, or did he, perhaps, think to get the workers, demotivated by their low wages, to produce more? A Workers Congress like ours is just a caricature if they could listen so passively to such arguments.

No wonder that Castro is very worried about the worsening crisis looming over Cuba and that on this occasion he dedicated a long tirade, published in bold type in the official press, about the recent events in Venezuela. In addition, he stressed his full support for Chavism and Nicolás Maduro, and attitude that could have high reaching consequences if, as is likely, Maduro and his followers fail to weather the storm.

Indeed, such declarations are frankly interventionist and contradict the statement of the Second Summit of CELAC , where the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of States is proclaimed.

Cubanet, 4 March 2014,

Mariel: A Port For If And When They Eliminate the Embargo / Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique and Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello

Havana, Cuba, October, www.cubanet.org – This coming November 1st the legislation published in the Official Gazette regarding the Mariel Special Development Zone will go into effect. As usual with the regime, the Council of State and of Ministers, and the Ministers of Science, Technology and the Environment, or Finance and Prices, of Interior and Labor, and of Social Security will also issue their corresponding regulations. A more than 30-page binder of regulations, very difficult to assimilate, even by the writers themselves.

But what it does make clear is that Cubans living on the island have no right to invest, they can only serve as workers.

There are some features which are obvious and which ensure that the Zone is not intended for now, but for the future; there appears to be something like a  hope for an understanding with the Americans, because it could be a base for ships to enter the United States of America, coming from Panama Canal.

However, it does not address how they are going to attract a massive infusion of capital, technology and the transfer of goods to the nearest principal market, the U.S., without having resolved the embargo.

Will it benefit ordinary Cubans?

The Zone covers 180 square miles and could be determined only by persons having a knowledge of cartography, on a map, that in order to show the site details a footprint consisting of points, which in turn are coordinates. The municipality of Mariel is only 150 square miles, ranking 139th in the country in size, and the local population that would benefit would be very few, since the whole of the province Artemisa has just over half a million people.

Perhaps the reason for choosing this Zone was to reduce the impact on the population of such a large area of foreign businesses, although thinking that no immediate development is expected.

The payment for a workforce will be agreed upon between the designated Cuban entity and the concessionaire in Cuban pesos (CUP), considering jobs of similar complexity in the demographic area of the foreign user, salaries paid to workers in Cuba and the expenses incurred by the employer in management to guarantee the supply of a qualified workforce, which involves recruitment, selection and training among other aspects.

Separating Cuban workers from the money they earn is guaranteed, when it’s stated that wages paid will start from a minimum, equivalent to the average wage at the end of the previous year in Havana province, at the time negotiations occur. It is clear in the legislation that neither the workers nor the unions will participate in these negotiations, as there isn’t the slightest attempt to address the working class and its representatives.

The Zone is subordinated directly to the Council of Ministers, giving them wide autonomy, and making no specific reference to its command structure. Presumably, it’s principal leaders are already designated, because the chief is equivalent to a minister, with great power; but nothing has been disclosed.

We can get an idea of the decision-making power of the Chief of the Office, at the national level, in the fact that he has the power to summon the bodies of the Central Administration of the State and of the governing bodies of each of the activities that take place in the Zone; and relations with the Provincial Assembly of Artemis and local governments are not subordinate, implying that these governing bodies lose almost its jurisdiction in the Zone.

Although we will have to wait to find out the extent all these changes will have on that Zone, it is clear that within it the the long road from socialism to capitalism is circumvented, which as we know well is not built.

Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique and Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello

From Cubanet, 22 October 2013