Changes pending to Cuba's paternalistic economy, sources say
By Marc Frank, ReutersMarch 9, 2010
Cuba's economy minister is pushing for less state intervention in one of
the world's last Soviet-style economies, saying the government can no
longer afford its all-encompassing control and paternalism, Communist
party sources say.
The drive by minister Marino Murillo appears aimed at overcoming
resistance to new reforms under President Raul Castro, who has made
extensive changes in agriculture since taking over in 2008 from ailing
brother Fidel Castro and is thought to want change in other economic
Murillo told armed forces and Interior Ministry officials in January
"the gigantic paternalistic state can no longer be, because there is no
longer any way to maintain it," according to a Communist party source
who saw a video of the Jan. 16 event shown to party and government cadres.
Sensitive strategy and policy meetings are often not immediately made
public in Communist-ruled Cuba, but videos of them are sometimes later
shown to certain selected officials.
Cuba is grappling with a financial liquidity crisis triggered by the
global recession which forced it to slash imports by 37 per cent last
year. Inefficiencies in the centralized economy have also reduced
Murillo said the Caribbean nation could no longer afford, for example,
to pay tens of thousands of people to control state barber shops, beauty
parlours and services such as appliance and watch repair shops. He
suggested they could be administered differently by leasing them to
workers, said two people who also saw the video of his speech.
The economy minister, a former military officer appointed to the post a
year ago, denounced those who might resist the changes, which appear to
be underway in small experiments.
"I was called to a meeting last month and told the premises would be
leased to employees soon as part of an experiment in the area," the
administrator of a state-run beauty parlour in central Havana said,
asking that her name not be used.
A pilot project in Havanahas some state taxi drivers leasing their
vehicles at a daily rate instead of receiving a wage, drivers said.
Universities in a number of provinces have been asked to draw up
proposals to transform local state-run services and minor production
activity into co-operatives.
Professors who attended a similar presentation by Murillo at Havana
University earlier this year said he made clear that economic necessity,
not ideological choice, was driving change and that reforms already
underway in agriculture were a model for what would come.
Changes pending to Cuba's paternalistic economy, sources say (9 March 2010)