Domingo, 16 de Diciembre de 2018
Última actualización: 11:26 CET

A Likely Story: Apparently nobody was responsible for the disastrous sugar harvest

The newspaper Granma, charged with turning out the Government's official propaganda, reported a decline in sugar production this year. The causes were, according to AZCUBA officials, "the climate's effects on the soil and the cane's quality, the time lost in the industry and the harvest, the late start-up of 13 mills of the 50 that remain, due to issues associated with the industry, the rain and excess moisture in the raw material. "

Don't laugh. The best part is their assumption that Cubans are all fools, as if these things had happened in Cyprus, as El Bacán wittily quipped, and we Cubans knew nothing about cane, its quality and cultivation, the organization of sugar production, or political economy.

It would be good idea to remind the gentlemen at AZCUBA and their higher-ups amongst the ruling elite that sugar production was, in fact, the backbone of the Cuban economy for centuries, until the "historical leadership" decided to do away with it, and to sell off the mills like scrap metal, or give them to their Latin American friends, because it was not "profitable" for the ruling monopoly and in line with its philosophy of profits. These patronizing authorities cannot seriously expect – in a country with a legacy of sugar cane production, in which Cubans have sown, and cultivated, and cut cane, and worked at sugar mills, and study its history – people to believe their implausible official version.

Everyone in this country knows that if time is lost, the milling does not start when it should, if the cane is not of the right quality, if there are delays in repairs to the mills... it is the fault of their managers, and the sugar monopoly, and the Government-State-Party, it being the owner, seller and buyer of everything and the cause of the disorder introduced into the economy through its central planning and its monopoly on foreign trade.

Anyone who knows anything about sugar knows that modern cane harvesters, and the set of State tractors and carts, cannot work wet plantations. But, as the monopoly AZCUBA, its businesses and governments don’t really care whether the sugar is cut on time, they are content to offer the "explanation" that "it was not possible" to start on time, or it "was interrupted" by rain, or the necessary parts "were not imported" on time. The passive voice is their faithful ally.  Shameless!

Before the State appropriated everything, back when the cane was cut by hand and pulled in oxcarts to the station, where it was weighed and loaded into railroad boxes, the owners of the cane, the farmers and owners of the sugar fields did whatever it took to produce the goods that had been ordered, and to get them to the station. They drew upon their ingenuity to properly load the boxes of cane, and to have the locomotive up and running, and meeting schedules.

“That's capitalism!” No, gentlemen at the helm of the world’s worst- planned economy: that was decentralized planning and, above all, the result of each link in the production chain doing its job, when each had an incentive to do so, benefitting in proportion to its compliance with targets set, in terms of quantity and quality. But the so-called Socialist State, ever since it seized all the mills, and all the land, and the farm equipment, and the tractors, and the railroad, and, above all, especially after 1962, when it turned the people's farms into sugar cane cooperatives, and all their workers into State employees, (modern slaves of officialdom, Martí would have said), logically, the direct, material, individual interest of each link in the chain... was shattered.

And that is the true cause of the paltry production, not the string of excuses offered up.

Since before 1962 politicians and economists have been debating monetary/mercantile relationships, payment for work, and the deranged idea that material incentives are capitalist... everything, in the end, so that the bureaucratic apparatus ends up deciding what everyone should receive, and who should be excluded for not sharing the "revolutionary" thinking of those in power. The cooks never go hungry.

It is simple, bureaucratic gentlemen: if there are no direct, material incentives, if workers are not rewarded for their efforts, and if there is no sense of ownership... there can be no production, or productivity, or development, or sustainability, or economy. Nor can there be socialism. It’s impossible.

In order to survive and multiply, people need to eat, to dress, to have a roof over their heads, to live with their families, and to interact harmoniously with society. Under the conditions of modern life, this is only possible with money, and money must be generated by work – the only thing we call can do, a capacity with which are endowed by our very nature. But if people are not paid for their work, what options are left for them? Going around hungry, poorly dressed, exposed to the elements, abandoning their families, not interacting with society, forced to contravene the rules of civilized coexistence, and to take what is not theirs.

Under such conditions, "all work must be remunerated," so that the economy functions, and people work, and have something to live on, and there is market demand. Because the market is neither capitalist nor socialist.

20th-century "communists" convinced people that by nationalizing the economy, and by centrally planning spending and consumption, while maintaining wage exploitation, they would build a new society. But what they did, by establishing a wage-based, State-controlled system, was to actually regress, from capitalism back to a kind of feudalism.

Today in Cuba nobody is buying these farfetched excuses any longer. Those who defend today's crushing "socialist" system clearly do so only if they personally benefit from it.