Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Compañero Nguyen’s visit

Nguyen Phu Trong, head of Vietnam’s communist party, visited Cuba last week.  There was a joint statement where Vietnam expressed “invariable support for the just cause of struggle of the Cuban people,” where Cuba noted that Nguyen was decorated with the Order of Jose Marti, and where it was announced that Raul Castro accepted an invitation to visit Vietnam.  Separately, Cuban media reported that Vietnamese advisors are teaching techniques that are increasing rice yields at a UBPC cooperative in Sancti Spiritus province.

Much more interesting, there was an interview in Granma where Nguyen discussed his country’s economic “renovation,” called doi moi, and commented on Cuba’s economic policy changes.  Between the lines, his message to Cubans is to stick with it, accept that changes have to proceed slowly, changes will bring improvement, and if you haven’t adjusted your attitude yet about introducing more market mechanisms and incentives into the socialist economy, do so now.

He said:

Vietnam’s economic reform process “has not been simple.”  It started in 1986 but was preceded by four years of experimentation on the farm and in the factory.  Land grants to farmers began in 1981, for example, but only in 1986 was a policy adopted to pay farmers “by piecework” (which I take to mean based on output rather than based on a sum agreed in advance).

When the process started, “many thought that the country intended to abandon socialism, but history has “demonstrated the opposite.”  He uses the phrase, “market economy with socialist orientation.”

The reforms have “considerably improved people’s lives.”  The poverty rate dropped from 75 percent in 1986 to 9.5 percent in 2010.

The hardest part of the reform has been “to change the general and individual mentality in Vietnam, many thought that the transformations would move us away from socialism.  Some even talked of deviations, others are more conservative.” 

It seems that Cubans are “in the same phase.”  “The change in mentality must be achieved at all levels, from the top to the base.”

Coverage in La Jornada here.  And from just before the visit, here’s a Juventud Rebelde article that praises Vietnam’s reforms and their results; a “process that contemplates introducing the logic of markets into the economy, but with a socialist orientation.”


brianmack said...

Great piece of news and as with what
we've seen the past few years, "the change" is coming to Cuba! This article, officially sanctioned via
the official Cuban newspaper, is revolutionary. I think that after the election, Obama will lift the sanctions and the money to be invested in Cuba will be mind alternating. That's what I'm reading and it will be sooner than later!

Anonymous said...

I am not sure that the return to market economy in Cuba will produce more corruption than there is right now where the lack of market relations and the lack of equilibrium between supply and demand at market prices creates rationing and a black market.

Rationing reduces the buying power of the peso, promotes absentism and reduces work incentives but worst of all it creates a black market or a sellers market where all stolen goods can be sold at a high price and where people are grateful to the crrok for providing them with goods that they could not get any other way and therefore they do not denounce him to the authorities to protect their source of future supplies.

In contrast with a market economy where only a small percentage of th population steals or buys stolen goods in Cuba nearly everyone including the cops have to do both things in order to survive.

The only ones that don't steal to survive in presnt day Cuba is the elite. They also steal but do so legally to enjoy goods and services that are not available to the rest of the population and which they do not deserve because instead of providing beneficial services to society all they do is screw things up!

With a market economy this widespread corruption would be reduced because when rationing is ended and the peso recovers its purchasing power human labor will recover its ability to satisfy human needs and the great majority of the population will not need to steal or to buy stolen goods in order to survive since they would be able to satisfy their needs through honest work.

Of course in a market economy the corruption of the higher ups will continue that is to be expected and it will become more evident since instead of manifesting itself in the privileged consumption of scarce goods which can be hidden more easily, it will now result in the accumulation of money and wealth which are easier to detect.

However, I submit that the gross volume of stealing and trafficking with stolen goods will decrease, specially among the working portion of the population, although it will probably remain the same although more evident among the Cuban elite.