Cuban Daily Cites Fidel's 1970 Lament About Low Productivity
HAVANA – The headline in Wednesday's edition of Cuban Communist Party
daily Granma was a 39-year-old quote from the country's now-retired
leader, Fidel Castro, complaining of low productivity on the island.
"Productivity is practically forgotten, and lack of productivity is the
abyss that threatens to swallow the island's human resources and
wealth," Fidel said in a 1970 speech.
Cuban state media – there are no independent outlets – have been
sounding the same theme for the past few years, with still greater
urgency since Fidel Castro was sidelined by illness in July 2006 and
turned over power to younger brother Raul.
On Tuesday, Granma said Cuba's state-run agricultural enterprises are
plagued by an "excess of nonproductive personnel," estimating the number
of redundant employees in the sector at 89,000, or 26 percent of the total.
The party newspaper praised the Agriculture Ministry for aiming to
eliminate at least 10 percent of the superfluous jobs and to halve the
number of managers.
"Workers must be aware of this problem," Fidel Castro said in 1970,
commenting on what he saw as a lack of diligence and application.
He said Cuba stood to gain tremendously from increased productivity and
that those advances could be achieved "with little or no additional
effort, with the resolution of some bottlenecks, with better
organization, with better use of the working day, with more discipline,
with a degree of rationality, with a degree of common sense."
Current President Raul Castro has repeatedly complained about Cuba's
poor agricultural productivity, noting that half the island's arable
land is sitting unused.
He said earlier this year that the "maximum priority" is increasing
domestic farm production, given rising international prices and Cuba's
reliance on imports for more than 80 percent of the food consumed by the
island's 11.2 million residents.
The government has already reduced the amount of food that Cubans
receive at subsidized prices via their ration cards and imposed strict
Cuba is suffering one of its worst economic crises since the revolution
that brought Fidel Castro to power in January 1959.
The world economic slump has squeezed Cuba's two main sources of hard
currency: nickel exports and tourism, while Cuban families have
experienced a decline in remittances from relatives in the United States.
The Cuban government is now forecasting an economic expansion of only
1.7 percent in 2009. Official statistics show growth in gross domestic
product fell from 12.5 percent in 2007 to 4.3 percent last year. EFE
Latin American Herald Tribune – Cuban Daily Cites Fidel's 1970 Lament
About Low Productivity (12 November 2009)