Cubans say reforms under Raúl Castro must speed up
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Analysts say changes related to the workforce 'should go slow'
The slow pace of implementation of economic reform under Raúl Castro's
Cuba is far too slow for many. The new policies are a topic of debate
and criticism even among its supporters, who say it must move forward
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – It has been a full year after the
Raúl Castro government approved a program of changes and measures aimed
at making the Cuban economic model sustainable.
In April 2011, the Sixth Congress of the ruling Communist Party
officially approved the "Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the
Party and the Revolution," with more than 300 short, medium and
long-term policy goals. Many are still waiting to be put into action.
"The changes should be sped up in some economic sectors," economist
Pável Vidal told IPS. "The best candidates for obtaining immediate
significant results" through the new policies appear to be non-state
forms of organizing small-scale production, he said.
"Unlike large companies, small and medium-sized enterprises, together
with cooperatives and agricultural producers, comprise a group that has
a lot of flexibility and less inertia, no bureaucracy that is resisting
changes, and a large capacity for adapting to a new framework of
incentives," Vidal said.
Cuban authorities are prioritizing cooperatives, although new
legislation announced for that sector is still being studied. "One of
the aspects that apparently is being discussed is the scope or degree of
autonomy that this type of association should have," said a source who
asked to remain anonymous.
University professor Reina Fleitas said that changes related to Cuban
labor "should go slow," to have as little of a negative impact as
possible, especially in the case of women, "who, despite all of the
progress, continue to be the most disadvantaged in terms of employment
The government relaxed a planned reorganization of the labor force that
was to involve the eventual elimination of up to one million state jobs.
Some of the workers who were laid off accepted production-related jobs
in the same state enterprise or opted to become self-employed or private
This year, an anticipated 170,000 jobs that are considered superfluous
or unproductive will be cut.
"It is essential to reduce payrolls, to be able to achieve efficiency
and analyze deadweight and capacity to meet the plan and implement the
budget, adjusting to what is available," Salvador Valdés, secretary
general of Cuba's labor federation said.
Self-employed workers, who numbered more than 370,000 as of February,
and about 80 percent of whom are union members, participated as part of
that emerging sector for the first time this year in the parades held on
May 1, International Workers Day. It is anticipated that their numbers
will reach 600,000 this year.
That growth should be favored by a gradual transition this year of state
workers to private enterprise, in trades such as carpenters,
photographers, and repairers of everything from jewelry, mattresses and
other household items to electric and electronic equipment.