Cuban Small Farmers Association Defends State Monopoly On The Export Of Coffee / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mata

A grower selects mature coffee. (EFE)
A grower selects mature coffee. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 5 May 2016 — The National Bureau of the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) in Cuba rejects the recent measures from the U.S. Department of State which include coffee among the products produced by the non-State sector in Cuba that can be imported into the United States.

In a statement published Wednesday, the Association lambastes the flexibility, which came into force on 22 April, allowing the import into the United States of coffee and textile products from “independent businesspeople” in Cuba.

John Kavulich, President of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, acknowledged at the time that Washington aims to support the small private sector of the island with this measure, although he highlighted its “very limited impact.”

However, ANAP does not appear to assess new business opportunities in the same way. The organization, created in May 1961 defines itself by its “social character” and claims to represent “the interests of Cuban farmers.” In response to the US State Department actions, it explains that “the objective pursued by this type of measure is to influence the Cuban peasantry and separate it from the State.”

The entity, with around 200,000 members, details that something like that “cannot be permitted, because it would destroy a Revolutionary process that has provided participatory democracy, freedom, sovereignty and independence.” The National Bureau statement does not say, however, if farmers devoted to the cultivation of coffee were consulted before the statement was published.

Among the arguments put forth in the statement released in the official press is the fact that “no one can imagine that a small agricultural producer can export directly to the United States… To make this possible Cuban foreign trade companies would have to participate and would have to produce financial transactions in dollars, which so far they have not been able to achieve,” added.

ANAP presents itself in different forums as part of Cuban civil society, but this statement says that the Cuban peasants are “members of the socialist society” and they exist “as part of the State and not as opposed to it.”

The text which repeats an idea that has been raised by several figures of the ruling party in recent months, says: “We face the objective of the imperialist policy of promoting the division and disintegration of Cuban society.”

In 2014, Cuba managed to produce 6,105 tons of coffee, an amount that does not cover annual domestic demand, which stands at 24,000 tons. This figure is very far from that achieved in the decade of the 1960s, when more than 62,000 tons of this grain were produced.

Translated by Alberto