A Correspondent’s Draft
By Manuel Alberto Ramy
February 19, 2012
“The pace of changes are factors of the same political process underway, but they do not limit the depth that can be discerned.” These were my words (pleasing to some, displeasing for others, both opinions that I respect) in my previous “Draft” under the title, “Answers for Aruca” (02/06/12). The signs of the present opinion I find them in the most elemental arithmetic.
According to official data, presently there are 362,000 self-employed people in Cuba (popularly known as “cuentapropistas”). Since a typical Cuban family has four members, unobjectionable math indicates the 1,452,000 Cuban citizens are living – some directly others indirectly – off personal and private entrepreneurship. We'll return to this figure.
The National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP), a totally private farmers’ organization, has 331,874 members, according to said organization. Multiply again by four and the result is 1,327,496 Cubans whose family economy depends directly from farming or the raising of animals. Add it to the previous figure and we have 2,779,496 fellow citizens.
The sum of my figures indicate that 24.8 percent of the present population of the island, which is 11,252,000, is already living to a large extent off the modest, recent openings and off previous ones (such as the creation of the first farm cooperatives). Are we talking about the same society or about the embryo of a different one? If in politics facts and information are important, trends have a greater value, for they show a possible design in the development of events marking possible perspectives and courses.
According to government figures for 2012, forty percent of Cuba’s GNP – a goal that depends on several factors that could favor or prevent the fulfilling of the objectives – will come from the non-government (autonomous, private, take your pick) sector in its different modalities, both of property and management. That percentage shows that the openings will grow, and therefore the number of citizens directly or indirectly linked will increase dramatically.
A government that is updating or reforming its economic model and practice in such a direction and weight of its GNP as an objective is accepting the reality of a new dynamic with which it will have to deal, particularly if sponsored by the government itself. Therefore, it should not be surprising that new relations with the emerging sectors will emerge, as well as with society as a whole and its legitimate interests.
With new forms of economic relations, their corresponding forms in the area of government and governed ones should appear – not arithmetically, of course. I would vote for the creation of a new utopia in which citizens, as producers and consumers, will exercise their power through new mechanisms of real participation, overseeing and control in an environment of plurality of opinions. Are we at risk of making new mistakes in the creation of another utopia? I believe, together with poet laureate Omar Perez that “A bird that never falls from its nest, never learns to fly.”
If we don’t stretch our wings, not only at home, but on a global scale, we risk losing the nest and the wings.
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Photo: The Oven bird, Argentina’s national bird, in its nest. Reproduced from a publication of the Embassy of Argentina in Paraguay.