Cuba giving land to private farmers
The Associated Press, 12:55 PM EST April 6, 2008
In a country where almost everyone works for the communist state, dairy farmer Jesus Diaz is his own boss. He likes it that way - and so does the government.
Living on a plot of land just big enough to graze four dairy cows, Diaz produces enough milk to sell about four quarts a day to the state.
This is independent production on a tiny scale, but it has proved so efficient that Cuba has decided on a major expansion of its program to distribute underused and fallow farmland to private farmers and cooperatives.
"It's a way for the land to end up in the hands of those who want to produce. I see it as a very good thing," said Diaz, 45. He received his land and cows from the state in 1996, and now hopes to get access to more property.
The government is preparing for a "massive distribution of land," Orlando Lugo, president of Cuba's national farming association, said last week. Private farmers have begun receiving land for the cash crops of coffee and tobacco, and will soon be able to lease state land for other crops.
The idea is to revolutionize farming, one tiny plot at a time. (link)
End the Embargo Now!
This is more good news from Cuba. Following the announcement that individuals would be given the deed to their homes, that Cubans could own cell phones, that Cubans could stay in luxury hotels, now comes another liberalization. This could be profound. Just a little market capitalism will reveal the superiority of markets over a command economy. This could be the camel getting its nose under the tent. The US should use these changes as an occation for ending its failed policy of isolating Cuba.
The embargo of Cuba began in 1960 and may have been a mistake from the very first. The intent was to pressure Castro to Democratize. It had the result of pushing Cuba further into the arms of the Soviet Union. The embargo made a martyr out of Castro and helped prop us his regime. The poverty of Cuba was the result of Castro’s socialist policies, but he could blame it on the U.S embargo.
If one thinks that there was logic for the embargo in 1960, surely that logic no longer applies in 2008. The Soviet Union is dead. The only two remaining truly Communist countries in the world are North Korea and Cuba.
Cuba is changing; we could facilitate that change if we would simply end the embargo. American dollars flowing into Cuba would mean more Cubans with money to spend, which would lead to more opportunities for the flourishing of a non-government sector of the economy and more pressure for more liberalization.
I suspect that Cuba would welcome US investment and trade. Along with that trade and investment would come a clarification of private property rights and the rule of law.
If it is too bold of a move for the current administration to totally end the embargo all at once, they could do it incrementally. A good place to start would be with a change in the policy that restricts Cuban-American and Cubans living in America from traveling to Cuba. This would be a humanitarian move and the right thing to do. Let families unite.
These moves by Cuba to liberalize should be met with American efforts to reinforce good behavior. We should change our policy regarding Cuba because it is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. If we want to see an end to socialism and totalitarian rule in Cuba, lift the embargo.