Reflections about private business in Cuba
- Submitted by: Oscar Rojas Curbelo
- Business and Economy
- 11 / 28 / 2014
Due to the increased flexibility that have occurred in the Cuban economy in recent years, it is useful to visualize, understand and delve into some details about the expansion of private businesses emerging in the country. In interview with Juan Triana, Professor at the University of Havana we try an approach to the subject.
Which are the real possibilities that private business provides to Cuban economy development?
This subject has many angles: there is the issue of employment, also the productive complementation that could exist and the angle of the services and products generation that is not efficient to do from the Government or from larger companies. ‹‹Cuentapropismo››, as we call it, is nothing but a Cuban version of personal business, microenterprise. There are holes in all industrial systems for very small production scales and for very large scales. Cuba had long deserted these niches and many were made by the Government from another perspective: cover from larger companies, which were inefficient.
First, I think you always have to start with the most general, the theory. In this case, microenterprise or self-employment has the mission or function to fill those small-scale niches and services that large state or private companies can not do it. That happens in every country in the world; Japan is an example.
Second, in the Cuban case it really has the ability to occupy and fill spaces that did not exist from the point of view of the production of goods and services.
Moreover, it is a sector that contributes to the generation of innovations, constantly being reinvented. There are countries in the world that the experience of innovation and technical change on a small scale is also important.
Why, being these new economical changes so favorable to the country, they happen 50 years after the revolutionary triumph?
We spent 50 years to convince us that we had to do other things. Why now? Because the Government is convinced that there is a group of services and products that they do not intended to cope. Because it is more functional a conception of one smaller Government, that is stronger strategically. All this has been combined now and it is fantastic.
To give some autonomy to the private labor sector could make the idea of socialism reversible. How to make the changes to prevent this from happening?
I do not know if it can be reversible the socialism. It was reversible and not by granting certain freedoms to the private sector indeed, it was in the Soviet Union, the countries of the socialist camp and they were not given anything to workers there, the opposite.
The first thing is to know what Cuban socialism is, we do not know. This is an ownership structure and forms of production, which must determine which are the predominant, what aspects should be dominant social or public ownership should prevail. Not because the State is bigger socialism is stronger, definitely.
These changes mean, of course, a change of mind at different levels; this change must come only from the people?
The change has to be worldwide. In Cuba 75% of the population was born after the Revolution, so our minds are structured in terms of a way to make the Revolution and the modus operandi of this was within a more general concept: how we wanted it to be the socialism, much like the socialist camp. Hence everyone has to change, from the village to the leaders who are the ones who are pushing for change and their minds have not changed yet. In fact some would have to change them no mind but the head because they are highly structured: grandparents can not change them where they chair.
Do you believe in the real possibility of a change of panorama in Cuba?
Things will change we want it or not. The worst that can happen is avoiding things to change, because life is very dynamic. Things can change and that managing change is achieved or accomplished because change imposed aspirations. I think changes will be and how good it would be to handle them, to anticipate and more or less have a plan of where things must change. One achieves anticipating change, or handling it, or simply change comes alone, against the grain of one. I think it's better to handle them.
It's nice having a document like we have now, the Guidelines (Lineamientos). Satisfies more or less, but is much better than what we had, which was a document of fifteen years old of the V Party Congress. The Guidelines anticipate some things, encourage others, and incorporate changes that have already occurred. Obviously within three or four years we will have to re-do because these other guidelines and we have fulfilled. One day we will end with the Guidelines, we´ll have to do others. We will have to sit down, as we did this time, in a consensual manner, and think about where we want to move on, because anyway things will change.