Informacion economica sobre Cuba

How Can You Fight Injustice in Cuba?
March 20, 2017
By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez

HAVANA TIMES — A political system which doesn’t have feedback, nor is
founded on democratic elections, will never be able to truly fight
injustice, anywhere! If those who rule the country and decide for the
rest of us what will happen to the economy and society make a mistake,
we have no way of urging them to rectify their wrongs; and even if they
are resolved to do so one day, it won’t happen with the speed which
these things deserve.

This happens in every aspect of Cuban life: let’s remember that it took
them decades to rectify the aberrant ban on selling your own home or
car; or being able to walk inside a hotel and be served; or talking to
foreigners; or traveling freely.

In this article, I will give you a more current example of this,
relating to tobacco production; which directly concerns me, as I am a
producer. A very strange situation has come about due to a green stain,
of an unknown origin, which affects tobacco plants but only reveals
itself when the leaf is dry (once it has been cured). Nothing can
conciously be done to prevent it and it depends on the harvest’s luck or
not, as it appears for no logical reason whatsoever. We all guess it
must be related to the environment.

However, it just so happens that this stain only affects the quality of
tobacco, which cuts back on the production of outer wrappers. Wrappers
are healthy, thin and Carmelite colored leaves which are used to wrap up
a cigar. Logically, a stain or two will affect the traditional aesthetic
of Cuban cigars. However, a cigar has three ingredients: fillers,
binders and wrappers; and it’s only the wrapper that has to be flawless;
and all three are important, you need all of them to make a cigar.

100 lbs of tobacco with green stains (which we call pintadilla here),
gives very few wrappers, but a lot of binders and filler. Of course this
means that it still maintains great commercial value not only in cigar
manufacture, but cigarette manufacture too. According to the CUBATABACO
spreadsheet, producing 100 lbs costs us 750 regular pesos or CUP (which
is about 30 CUC or 35 USD); however in reality it’s another story, and
can cost us up to 1000 CUP. There is a system of separate payment
according to the percentage of wrappers produced, in order to stimulate
production, but the worst thing is that the price for 100 lbs of tobacco
which doesn’t produce wrappers is 300 CUP, even though it is all made
use of and still has great commercial value.

Thanks to pintadilla, we have uncovered this injustice. To give you an
idea: 5000 packs of cigarettes, which are sold on the domestic market
for 7-15 CUP, depending on whether they are sold in CUC or CUP, and
their packaging, are made from 100 lbs of supposedly “affected” but not
“rotten” tobacco which the governemnt pays 300 CUP for (a third of the
production price). If it was sold in CUC, this would bring in a net of
35,000 CUP and if it was sold in CUP, 75,000. Investments made in
industry and salary are minimal when you take into account just how much
they reap in profits.

Before pintadilla came onto the scene, we didn’t notice this injustice
because we always produced a good percentage of wrappers and the price
they paid us was around 2000 CUP. It’s still a relatively low price
considering the State monopoly’s high return, but we have seen more
scope for financial gain in this business than working elsewhere and so
there were no problems. Now, after the disaster of this so-called
“stain”, they want to pay us 300 CUP, as has been established, and make
millions out of our sweat and hard labor; leaving us indebted to the
state bank and without food on the table for our families.

We have been demanding a meeting with managers involved for over three
months and we finally were able to sit down and talk, although a lot of
important figures were missing. A committee of experts came and
explained that this was the price that they should pay “because skilled
people had determined that this was the fair price.” Many farmers
protested and put forward their arguments. I raised my voice on many an
occasion to reveal the injustice and lies of the company’s arguments, as
well as how preposterous it was for them to pay for a “useless” product
which creates plentiful earnings.

Our President of the local People’s Power took the tobacco farmers’ side
and agreed that this price was outrageous, pressuring them to come up
with a solution. The Cooperative President also cooperated and made a
joint agreement that stated that tobacco would not be handed over until
a satisfactory solution was proposed. A report will be carried out by
the Communist Party municipal Secretary, who already knows about this
situation and has called for it urgently. This is unprecendented in
Mayari and is worrying the government/Party, because the issue is so
serious that it has made people lose their fear and stand up firm
against the state company. Nevertheless, we still have very little hope
of changing the situation and we feel like we’re just throwing stones at
the hill: we have very little power and the government’s indifference is
huge.

The saddest thing though is that the local tobacco company (UEB-Mayari),
which belongs to the national CUBATABACO Company, doesn’t have the power
to decide anything, because everything is centralized and controlled by
the State. A solution would take a very long time via the Cuban
bureaucracy system and there’s also the fact that they never give into
the working population’s demands, but rather decimate and scare us by
giving our struggle ideological and political hues. However, I don’t
know how they’ll rise above such a touchy subject like the current one,
which affects the pockets of thousands of families who have no other way
of getting by.

Marti once said: “We will win every kind of equality.” I don’t know the
context of this quote, but it is used a lot in official propaganda; so
it must be true. I voided the company experts’ arguments, which were in
favor of abusing tobacco farmers, with this same phrase because it’s
never too late to right an injustice. However, the Revolution doesn’t
give us space to do this: it’s a sad fact and this is just another
example. We will see how things turn out for our struggle; things are
gradually changing and our people need to learn, tripping and tripping
again, to fight for their rights.

Source: How Can You Fight Injustice in Cuba? – Havana Times.org –
www.havanatimes.org/?p=124261


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