Granma Daily publishes critical letters on economy
In recent months, Cuba's largest newspaper has published letters to the editor on how to fix the nation's economy.
In recent months Granma has published a jarringly lively and often critical set of letters to the editor on how to fix an economy ravaged by decades of over-centralization, inefficiency and corruption.
``Let us all . . . push for new mechanisms, structures or whatever one wants to call them. But let's do it without delay because tomorrow, tomorrow could be too late,'' wrote J. Rodríguez Pérez.
But a shift toward capitalism, J.L. Marichal Castillo warned in another letter, ``would no doubt generate another Revolution . . . but this time instead of 20,000 dead it would cost hundreds of thousands.''
Raúl Castro opened the doors to the polemic when he called for a frank debate of the shortcomings of Cuba's economy -- 95 percent controlled by the government.
Academics, artists and others joined in with gusto, writing columns that ranged from calls to ``democratize socialism'' to attacks on ``neo-stalinism.''
Granma is Cuba's largest newspaper, however, with a circulation estimated at 400,000, and the two pages it has devoted every
Friday to letters to the editor since March 2008 have drawn much attention.
Initially, most of the letters printed focused on mundane issues such as gripes against neighbors' loud music, a shortage of sanitary napkins and unruly pets.
But more recently they have focused on the market incentives -- some call it ``privatization'' -- being considered as a fix for Cuba's economy.
They include turning over 30,000 state-run retail shops like bakeries and cafeterias to employees or workers' cooperatives.
``To fail to recognize that we're in a critical situation is to stick our heads in the sand. To . . . move toward fully
capitalist formulas is to betray a homeland that has cost so much blood, sweat and tears,'' wrote Marichal Castillo.
``We cannot conceive of cooperatives, associations or whatever they are called, without rules that can swiftly `take out of
circulation' those who [engage in] unlawful or disproportionate enrichment or any other negative social manifestation,'' he added.
A.J. Fernandez Alonso wrote that while he favored turning over the small shops to employees, ``many people, with complete justification, are terrified to say the word `privatization.' And the fear of someone getting rich is latent.''
``Competition and privatization, which so many criticize and fear, are an engine driving good-quality services,'' wrote J.R.
Cepero Donates. ``If my service is not good, I simply do not have a clientele, I do not sell, and therefore, I do not earn the necessary income to make my business profitable.''
``We must, without deviating from the socialist path, change everything that needs to be changed in our economic reality,'' added Cepero, a University of Havana student.
By JUAN O. TAMAYO