Patterico's Pontifications

4/5/2008

Revolution in Cuba: Private Land Ownership

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 10:15 am



[Guest post by DRJ]

Cuba may be moving toward private ownership of land:

“In a country where almost everyone works for the communist state, dairy farmer Jesus Diaz is his own boss. He likes it that way—and so does the government. Living on a plot of land just big enough to graze four dairy cows, Diaz produces enough milk to sell about four quarts a day to the state.

This is independent production on a tiny scale, but it has proved so efficient that Cuba has decided on a major expansion of its program to distribute underused and fallow farmland to private farmers and cooperatives.

It’s a way for the land to end up in the hands of those who want to produce. I see it as a very good thing,” said Diaz, 45. He received his land and cows from the state in 1996, and now hopes to get access to more property.

The government is preparing for a “massive distribution of land,” Orlando Lugo, president of Cuba’s national farming association, said last week. Private farmers have begun receiving land for the cash crops of coffee and tobacco, and will soon be able to lease state land for other crops.

The idea is to revolutionize farming, one tiny plot at a time.”

The reporter offers a clever little nod to “revolution” but I suspect Cubans are more like Americans than revolutionary Communists. They want to work for themselves and their families:

“While attention has focused on President Raul Castro’s crowd-pleasing moves to allow any Cuban who can afford it to buy a cell phone or stay in a luxury hotel, farmland distribution has been less noticed and is potentially much more important for easing chronic food shortages.

The bet is that independent farmers will do better on their own than toiling for state-run agricultural enterprises, which suffer from red tape, bad planning and lack of funding.

“The authorities, they leave you alone and let you produce,” said Aristides Ramon de Machado, who got permission to plant bananas, papaya and guava in a lot by his home in Boca Ciega, east of Havana.

De Machado only grows enough for his family to eat and is prohibited from selling any surplus. But he said entrusting larger private farmers with more land will encourage them to increase production. “Seeing the fruits of your own labor gives you pleasure in ways that working for someone else does not,” he said.”

Welcome to capitalism, Sr. De Machado.

— DRJ

13 Responses to “Revolution in Cuba: Private Land Ownership”

  1. Alice Walker will be tickled purple by this news.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  2. As usial the communists are opposed to private land ownership thats why many watermellon enviromentalists are opposed to private land ownership and thats why they want the goverment to own and control all land

    krazy kagu (5e1710)

  3. It was only with the allowance of private ownership win the Ag sector at the end of the Soviet era, that the peoples of the USSR were able to acquire foods, and goods, that had been denied them for tens of years under the glory of centralized planning.

    Now that this has been introduced into Cuba, we will see the authority of the State being slowly broken. Once people are allowed to make decisions, no matter how small, for themselves, the desire for freedom will escalate as they see that they, not the State, are best able to plan their own lives.

    It will be interesting to see if Raul and his cadres can stay ahead of the curve as the Chinese Politburo has been able to do; or if, as in the USSR, they completely lose control of the country.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  4. The Castros’ father was an hacendado, through his grandfather who was a Spanish soldier become settler after the Spanish-American War. Raul going back to his roots?

    And no, private land ownership does not need break the authority of the state. The state has pillars it rests on. All the state needs is for them to have somehting to lose and the power to prevent them from trying to get more. Private land owners are just as good as soldiers, policemen, bureaucrats and merchants in supporting the status quo.

    nk (764292)

  5. Just saying that economic freedom is a precursor to political freedom.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  6. I understood you. I was just saying that an oligarchy can be sustained in different ways. I was being cynical.

    Freedom that needs permission is not freedom. Whether it is the permission of the few or the permission of the many. Robinson Crusoe was free.

    nk (764292)

  7. P.S.

    There is no justice, there are no rights, and there is no freedom. There are only rules by which people live with one another.

    nk (764292)

  8. A cynic said, many years ago, that civilization is that point in human developement where the members of a society have to hire others to enforce the rules that they have adopted to regulate their everyday lives.
    Which explains the constant creation of “mountain men/etc”, those who don’t mind living by codes, but resent the enforcement by a third-party.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  9. “economic freedom is a precursor to political freedom.”
    I would say that the opposite is also true, perhaps to a greater extent. China did not experience its rapid growth until it relaxed political controls over the economy. A result of Deng Xiaoping’s “glorious to be rich” change in political direction. And an admission, by such change, of the failure of central planning, which was replaced by central control.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  10. Although, nk, I would agree with Drew in that once a population has experienced a certain level of affluence, it is difficult to make them return to their earlier state.

    Take the Russian example – Putin is busy with his cult of personality, faking elections and bullying the public. But even he knows that there will be no return to stores with empty shelves. Whatever the political posturing, it is scarcity that will upend the Putin era. As long as the money flows and prosperity grows, the opposition will remain weak.

    Which is why the opposition noted in December – “the costs of the people’s loyalty will keep growing, while revenues are unlikely to grow. And It’s the Prime Minister (Putin) who will have to deal with this mess.”

    Apogee (366e8b)

  11. My perception of the PRC, is that the only way that the Politburo saw to better conditions within China was to allow a certain degree of economic freedom to the masses. Though they kept control of vast areas of the economy through state-owned industries, it was the small business owner, who was allowed to exist by the relaxation, who drove the elevation of economic conditions for the great majority. This new economy also opened the country to travel by foreigners, and allowed the Chinese to travel abroad in a way that was unimaginable under Mao.

    Once this freight-train has left the yard, it becomes more and more difficult to keep it from gaining speed. Eventually, the momentum becomes irreversible, and topples the authoritarium system.

    As has happened many times in the past in China, power is now difusing away from Peking, and into the hands of groups, and individuals. Some might say that this is just part of the continuum of the break-up of the last dynasty that started over 100-years ago. But, time passes slowly in China, a civilization now over 4,000 years-old.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  12. Drew – I agree with your long view. My contention is that the authoritarian (or for that matter any) system will only be toppled when it impedes the prosperity of the people. This is the dance contest currently under way in the PRC.

    All political movements (Bolshevik revolution, Great Leap forward, even the American Revolution) are sold on the promise of prosperity and progress. It is in their ability to deliver on that promise that they continue or fail.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  13. ” “Seeing the fruits of your own labor gives you pleasure in ways that working for someone else does not,” he said.””

    Basic alienation. Looks like someone forgot their Marx.

    stef (b4d88d)


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