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CUBANET NEWS

March 2010

Independent librarian fired from government job
HAVANA, Cuba, March 23  (Aini Martín Valero, ALAS, www.cubanet.org) - José Ignacio Oropesa Almora says he was fired from his job as a truck driver for the state oil company because he’s an independent librarian.

  He said his superior at Cuba Petróleo (CUPET) told him at the beginning of the month that he should resign because he was not a reliable worker.

He said on several occasions when driving a truck he was filmed by state investigators obviously trying to document improper behavior. He said stickers carrying dissident saying “Cambio” (Change)  appeared at the oil company.

Oropesa Almora works at an independent library on Vía Blanca in the Bahía district of eastern Havana.


Ex-prisoner of conscience jailed
HAVANA, Cuba, March 22 (Tania Maceda Guerra, www.cubanet.org)  - Former prisoner of conscience Hugo Damián Prieto Blanco was beaten and arrested last week for demonstrating in support of the Ladies in White, according to his wife.
Bárbara L. Sendiña Recarde said agents from the Political Police told her that her husband could be charged with public disorder.
She said that on March 17, the day after the arrest, a group showed up at their home and tore down anti-government signs they had posted.
Prieto Blanco, 44, is a member of the Cuban Human Rights Party.


Pedicab drivers fined in Cienfuegos
HAVANA, Cuba, March 19 (Reinaldo Cosano, Sindical Press / www.cubanet.org -- Tax inspectors fined five pedicab drivers this week in Cienfuegos for allegedly violating terms of their self-employment.

One driver said they were obliged to pay a retirement tax even though their agreement doesn’t mention a pension.

Fines ranged from 50 to 75 pesos, less than a dollar in a country where the average monthly salary is $15.


Canadian students cause spring-break damage
CAYO COCO, Cuba, March 19 (Kallan Poe, APLA/ www.cubanet.org Canadian spring-breakers burned towels in a hotel discotheque, prompting the intervention of security personnel, according to an employee.

The source said that the incident occurred March 16 when two students tried to create a smoky atmosphere at the NH KRISTAL Hotel.

Students staying at the Tryp Cayo Coco Hotel were said to have trashed rooms while intoxicated and to have stripped naked in some public areas.

“They’re crazy people who go wherever they want,” said the source. “It looks like they came here to do what’s not allowed in Canada.”

Police seize pedicabs and carriages and the horses that pull them
HAVANA, March 17 (Gladys Linares, www.cubanet.org) -- Police in the Havana district of Santa Fe where Fidel Castro has his residence have seized a dozen pedicabs and horse-draw carriages that operated in the area.

Police in the area maintain the traffic flow on Seventh Avenue, the continuation of Miramar’s famous Fifth Avenue. Many government officials who live in the area transit the avenue.

The owners of the pedicabs and carriages – the horses were also seized a week ago – say they’re responsible for transporting many of the 90,000 residents of Santa Fe.

Police seize five bars of soap and issue fine for hoarding
 SANTA CLARA, March 12 (María Caridad Noa / www.cubanet.org) – Rafael Gómez says police seized five bars of soap he had bought at the market and accused him of hoarding.
Gómez said a police officer had stopped him, asked for his identification papers and looked at the parcel he was carrying. He said he was taken to the police station when the officer discovered the soap, for which he paid 25 pesos, less than one American dollar.
Gómez said that when he complained the officer wrote out a report seizing the soap and fined him 30 pesos for hoarding.

Photo shop refuses to develop film from independent journalst
HAVANA, Cuba, March 10 (Aliomar Janjaque Chivaz, www.cubanet.org) – The Foto-Servi Tri-Imagen photo store refused last weekend to process a roll of film belonging to independent journalist Carlos Serpa that contained shots of members of the dissident Ladies in White group.

“This establishment belongs to the Ministry of the Interior and we’re not going to let you develop photos in which counter-revolutionary Ladies in White appear,” said the shop manager, a man named Meyvol.
Serpa said the film contained photos of a memorial service at the Carmen Church in honor of dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who starved himself to death.

Two political prisoners released
HAVANA Cuba, March 4 (Leticia Ramos and Tania Maceda/ www.cubanet.org) – Two political prisoners have been freed after serving sentences of two and three years.
Daisy Talavera, 39, was freed in from the women’s prison in Matanzas after being sentenced for disrespect of authority.  She’s a member of the Marta Abreu Feminine Movement.
Ramón Velásquez, 54, was freed from the Piedra prison camp in Las Tunas after serving his three-year sentence as a danger to society. He was found guilty of being a danger to society for leading an anti-government protest march from Santiago de Cuba.

Independent journalist held for 10 hours
HAVANA, Cuba, March 1 (Luis Cino, www.cubanet.org) - Independent journalist Juan González Febles was detained for 10 hours last week.

Two state security agents detained Febles February 24 around 3 p.m. on Neptune Street in Central Havana  as he approached the home of

Laura Pollán of the Ladies in White to sign a condolence book in honor of political prisoner  Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who starved himself to death.

Febles, 59, was taken to the Zanja police station where he was held until late in the evening. He is director of Primavera Digital.
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FEBRuary 2010

Protesters force police to return sack of rice HAVANA, Cuba, Feb. 22 (Moisés Leonardo Rodríguez / www.cubanet.org) - More than 60 passengers on a bus protested the seizure of a 20-pound sack of rice and forced the police to return it to the owner.
“That rice is for consumption by my family,” said the passenger to whom the rice belonged.
The incident occurred Feb. 16 at the Mariel-Cabañas junction in the state of Havana.

When the police put the sack in the trunk of their cruiser, the passengers started shouting and kept it up for half an hour before the rice was returned. “Given the hunger in this country,” one man shouted at the police, “You’re abusing that woman.”

Cuba cancels development baseball league
HAVANA, Cuba, Feb. 22 (Leafar Pérez, www.cubanet.org) -Cuban authorities have suspended the baseball season of the Development League because of the state of the economy.

The decision means that some 300 players will no longer be available for call-up to play for any of the teams involved in the 49th National Baseball Series.

The development league has 16 teams and operated as a farm system for the top teams.


Wife of dissident threatened with jail
HAVANA, Cuba, Feb. 18 (Odelín Alfonso Torna, www.cubanet.org) – Carlos Hernández Ojeda of the November 30 Frank País Democratic Party says two political policemen threatened to jail his wife if he continued his dissident activity.
 Hernández Ojeda said the pair showed up at his residence in the Arroyo Naranjo district of Havana on February 11 when he was not at home.
 Hernández Ojeda and Boris Rodríguez Jiménez, a party colleague, were detained February 6 and taken in handcuffs to a police station for questioning. He said they were held for 10 hours without water or food.
He said state security agents accused them of planning a demonstration February 7 at the Havana Psychiatric Hospital where 26 patients were said to have died in January for lack of care.


Human rights advocates arrested and fined in Banes
HAVANA, Cuba, Feb. 18 (Doralis Álvarez Soto, www.cubanet.org)  - Two human rights activists were arrested in Banes in Holguín state last week and fined for carrying anti-government posters.
 Diagzán Saavedra Prat and Arnaldo Expósito Zaldívar were threatened Feb. 10 with jail but ended up paying a 30 peso fine.
Saavedra Prat said he was protesting because state security agents had his shoemakers license rescinded. He was freed from jail last year after serving a year-long-sentence for being a danger to the public.
He’s a member of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights and the Municipal Democratic Circle in Banes.


Government seeks to identify firearms
HAVANA, Cuba, Feb. 15 (Carlos Ríos Otero,   www.cubanet.org) -The Ministry of the Interior has advised all gun owners that they must go to a police station before the end of the month and certify that the arms they possess are theirs.

According to the Ministry, there are 60,000 legally-owned guns in private hands. Most of them are hunting or target practice long guns.

The order follows a series of robberies by persons carrying handguns.


Russians returning to Havana
HAVANA, Cuba, Feb. 11 (Lucas Garve, www.cubanet.org) – Some 200 Russians have been invited to the ninth International Book Fair, dedicated to Russia, which opens here today.
The government’s publishing house announced that it would bring out new editions of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Tolstoy’s War and Peace, among others, but no mention was made of the works of Solzhenitsyn and Pasternak, both Nobel Prize winners for literature who opposed Communism.
Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet will perform Saturday night at the Karl Marx Theater.
The first International Book Fair was held in Havana in 1937.


Police raid jewelry shops in Matanzas
HABANA, Cuba, Feb. 11 (Carlos Ríos / www.cubanet.org) – Police raided a group of jewelry shops last week in Cárdenas in Matanzas province, seizing work tools and money.
Police told the jewelers that their permits only applied to the repair of jewels and did not allow them to melt gold and silver and make jewels.
Most affected was the Otero family, makers of jewelry since the nineteenth century, whose three shops were raided.

Independent journalist arrested and  charged
HOLGUÍN, Cuba, February 1 (José Ramón Pupo Nieves, www.cubane.org)  - Independent journalist Juan Carlos Reyes Ocaña was arrested in his home in Holguín last week and taken to a police station where he was charged with insult, disobedience and illicit economic activity.

Members of the dissident went to the police station last Friday in a sign of support for Reyes Ocaña, who was released pending trial.

Reyes Ocaña is affiliated with Holguín Press, an independent new agency.


Dissidents arrested after wreath laying
SANTA CLARA, Cuba, February 1 (Yesmy Elena Mena Zurbano, www.cubanet.org) – A group of dissidents was arrested last week after laying a wreath at a monument to independence hero José Martí.
Five of the dissidents, members of the Frank País November 30 Democratic Party, were detained in the morning and released in the evening, while a sixth was held overnight, according to one of them, Amado Ruiz Moreno.

Ruiz Moreno, who said he was beaten about the legs, said he and his colleagues had planned to go to the police station to demand the release of political prisoners.
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January 2010

Ecuadorian Embassy scene of disturbance
HAVANA (Carlos Ríos Otero.  www.cubanet.org) – Police arrested 20 people last week when a fight broke out at the Ecuadorian Embassy among those standing in line for visas to travel to the South American country.
Waiting in line and selling your place has become a minor business in Havana. The price ranges from five to 20 CUCs, a CUC being convertible currency.
The trouble started when those arriving at daybreak January 19 saw others buying their spot from people who had been waiting since midnight. Several persons were injured in the brawl.
Those arrested face penalties of up to four years for creating a disturbance outside a foreign embassy.

Counterfeit banknotes circulate in Havana
HAVANA, Cuba, Jan. 19 (Carlos Ríos Otero, www.cubanet.org) –Counterfeit CUCs, the banknotes that replaced foreign currency, have been detected in Havana.
Police have told shop owners to immediately advise the authorities if someone tries to pass one of the phony bills, which began to circulate shortly before New Year’s Day. The bills have been in denominations of 20 CUCs.
A woman tried to pay with a counterfeit 20 at an outlet of the Ditú fast-food chain in the Managua district. When the bill was rejected, she said she had been given it at a government currency exchange agency.
A minor tried to pay for a soft drink in the San Leopoldo district with a 20. He fled when the falsification was detected.

Independent librarian detained over children’s party
HAVANA, Cuba, Jan. 8(Julio Beltrán, Agencia Libre Asociada / www.cubanet.org) – Independent librarian Ileana Margarita Pérez says she was detained by police on Three Kings Day and questioned during an eight-hour period.

“I was submitted to an interrogation only because I had organized a Three Kings Day party for children in my neighborhood,” she said. “I was warned that such seasonal things were prohibited in Cuba because they’re capitalist.”

Besides being the director of the Héctor Riverón Independent Library, Pérez is a delegate of the dissident Latin American Federation of Rural Women, known as FLAMUR, its Spanish acronym.

She said one of the agents told here, “There’s a file on you for being antisocial and, if you don’t know it, there are jails for problematic women like you.”

Police try to stop sellers of bread SANTA CLARA, Cuba, January 11(Yoel Espinosa / www.cubanet.org) – Since the beginning of the New Year, police in Santa Clara have been pursuing private sellers of bread, which is considered a crime.

Police in cruisers and on foot have been seen chasing the vendors, who usually use bicycles. Those who are caught are fined 1,500 pesos, the equivalent of three months’ salary for the average Cuban. Police also confiscate their bicycles.

“Each new measure they take is to hurt people who are no longer able to buy bread in the street,” said resident Julia Salterio. “The breadmen on their bikes are the ones who let us each bread at breakfast.”


Anti-government sign appears in Santa Clara    
  SANTA CLARA, Cuba, January 11 (José Guillén / www.cubanet.org) – An anti-government sign was painted on an electric light post next to a bus stop in the town of Caguagua in Villa Clara state last week.
The sign read: “51 years without freedom! Down with the Castros!”

Political police and members of the National Police with sniffer dogs took photos and fingerprints and tried to find a trail of the sign maker.


Dissident’s telephone tapped
HAVANA, Cuba, January 11 (Ana Aguililla / www.cubanet.org) – Independent librarian Luz María Barceló says she was insulted by someone who tapped into a telephone conversations she was having with the mother of a political prisoner.

She said a man who identified himself by the initials KT came on line as she was talking with Gregoria, the mother of Luis Campos on January 3.

“The gentleman greatly offended us,” she said. “This isn’t the first time this has happened. On other occasions he let it be understood that he was acting on orders.”


Pharmacies in Santa Clara don’t have aspirins
SANTA CLARA, Cuba, January 11 (Yoel Espinosa / www.cubanet.org) –A health worker says common aspirins are unavailable in local pharmacies because of a demand for them in hospitals.
“We hope the situation will be normalized next month,” said the worker.

Said Juan Agramonte as he left the Arnaldo Milián provincial hospital, “They say we’re a medical power but we don’t have any aspirins.”

Now 16, Elian Gonzalez pictured in Cuba

Cuba has released photos of one-time exile Elian Gonzalez, now 16.
HAVANA — Cuba has released photos of one-time exile cause célèbre Elian Gonzalez wearing an olive-green military-school uniform and attending a Young Communist Union congress.
Gonzalez, now 16 with closely cropped black hair, is shown serious-faced with fellow youth delegates during last weekend's congress at a sprawling and drab convention center in western Havana. The images were posted Monday on Cuban government Web sites, then widely picked up by electronic, state-controlled media.
When he was 5, Elian was found floating off the coast of Florida in an inner tube after his mother and others fleeing Cuba drowned trying to reach the United States. Elian's father, who was separated from his mother, had remained in Cuba.
U.S. immigration officials ruled the boy should return to Cuba over the objections of his Miami relatives and other Cuban exiles, creating a national furor. His relatives refused to give him up. Federal agents raided the Little Havana home of his uncle with guns drawn 10 years ago this month and seized the boy from a closet to return him to his father.
Elian was celebrated as a hero in Cuba upon his return and his father, restaurant employee Juan Miguel Gonzalez, was elected to parliament — a seat he retains today.
Cuba usually marks Gonzalez's birthday every Dec. 7 with parades and other local events, but such activities are not open to foreign reporters.
Gonzalez formally joined the Young Communist Union in 2008, making headlines across Cuba.
"Young Elian Gonzalez defends his revolution in the youth congress," read the headline over Monday's photo posted on Cuba Debate, the site where Fidel Castro has posted his regular essays since ceding power to his younger brother, Raul, for health reasons in 2006.
Revolution is what Cubans call the rebellion that toppled dictator Fulgencio Batista and brought Castro to power in 1959.
Elian and his father are watched by state authorities, who restrict their contact with the international press.

EFT Archive (Research Alert Group)

Marx was a city boy:
Or, why communism may fail

The men in the Kremlin have never liked—or understood—the farmer. A distinguished student of the Soviets explains why the resulting blunders by Russia and her satellites might prove fatal to their power.
I am by profession an economist and economic historian. The bulk of my academic life has been taken up with studying the world’s economic development during the nineteenth century. I have just ended three years’ work on the Soviet Union and Communist China. The task there was not to study Communist economies but to discern, if possible, the shape and prospects for change in the whole societies now dominated from Moscow and Peking: their politics, social life, foreign policy, and their economies.
The title of this article reflects perhaps the most important single idea about Communism which I have acquired during these three years of study.
I believe that Marx failed to understand the farmer. From that misunderstanding has flowed a century of Communist theory and practice, And, more important, from Communist theory and practice has arisen a set of problems whose solution or failure of solution may well wreck the international Communist movement—or force profound and wholesome change upon it.
Perhaps the most dangerous enemy of Communism is the stoic, passive peasant in Eastern Germany, Poland, the Soviet Union itself, China, and Northern Vietnam. He will certainly not revolt on his own under present circumstances; but even a police state cannot make him increase his output on the scale Communist plans require.
The passive figure of the peasant, trapped in totalitarianism, is joined as a potentially mortal enemy of Communism by the farmer in the Free World—notably in the underdeveloped areas and perhaps most notably, at the moment, by the awakening Indian peasant.
This, in any case, is my theme. I should like to develop it by tracing out how Communism has come to tangle at cross purposes with the peasant; the consequences of this generally quiet struggle: the problems which it creates for the Communist leadership; and the opportunities it opens to the Free World.
The story begins with Marx himself. There is an excellent book by David Mitrany called Marx Against the Peasant. Mr. Mitrany’s book examines the trouble Communism had from the beginning with agriculture and the farmer. Marx’s theory of history—though couched in the heavy and pretentious style of Germanic scholarship—is essentially a simple one. He believed that by an inevitable series of class struggles, bourgeois capitalism had conquered feudalism; and that the urban working class, created by industrial capitalism, would inevitably inherit power and authority when capitalism had dug its grave.
This theory represented Marx’s reading of British history as he looked backward and forward from the middle of the nineteenth century. As he wrote he could see in England a decline of the political power of agriculture and an increasing dependence of Britain on imported rather than home-produced food. This—plus the fact that he was a bookish city fellow—led him to dispose of the farmer, in his theory and his prescriptions for the future, in a highly casual way. For example, the Communist Manifesto of 1848, in making its recommendations for the future, simply had this to say about agriculture:
The establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of distinction between town and country, by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.

In short, Marx’s notion was that history would make of the farmer simply an industrial worker of one sort or another; and he could embrace the farmer ultimately in the same formula he mechanically applied to the industrial working class. The farmer, with his passionate. desire to own his own piece of land and to till it in his own interest, annoyed Marx. As a theorist of history, Marx found the farmer out of place; and there is a note of human irritation and annoyance in Marx’s treatment of him. Marx allowed no special place for him and for agriculture in his major writing.
One can dispose of such matters with ease—in theory. But the practical politics of Marxism, from the very beginning, ran into trouble with the peasant of Central and Eastern Europe. Before the revolutions in Russia of 1917, Marxist politicians had the greatest difficulty in gaining any significant base of support among the peasants. The real discontents of European peasants, focussed on land reform and redistribution, were expressed through peasant parties which grew up in the fifty years or so before the first world war. These parties were generally non-Marxist and, often, anti-Marxist. Except for a brief flirtation with the notion that the Russian village organization—the mir—could be built into a Socialist state, Marxist ideas did not harmonize naturally with the impulses of the European peasant. Brushing the peasant aside as a kind of miscast rural industrial worker, Marxism abandoned him to other leaders.

Two Practical Politicians

Now comes a monumental irony of modern history. Without the peasant’s unsatisfied desire to own his land, there would not have been a Russian revolution in 1917 and, almost certainly, the Bolsheviks would not have triumphed in the Communist phase of that revolution in November 1917. Not Marxism or Socialism or Communism, but the peasant’s great longing for land was the most powerful single engine of the Russian upheaval of 1917.
In 1917 Lenin perceived this fact. He was thoroughly prepared to junk or alter Marxist theory in the interests of the immediate struggle for power. As a practical politician, he managed to harness a good deal of the discontent which had infected the peasant-born Russian armies; and he used this non-Marxist—almost anti-Marxist—motive to seize power.
Lenin’s 1917 slogans were: Land, Bread, and Peace. Despite seventy years of Marxism, in the showdown Lenin rated the peasant’s desire for land the most effective political force to which he could appeal.
In China the peasant was even more important to Communist victory than he was in Russia. At first, the Chinese Communists sought to achieve power by mobilizing strength in the cities. They organized the industrial workers and infiltrated union organizations in the approved manner. It took a whole series of defeats, starting in 1927, to disabuse them of this strategy.
The emergence of Mao-tse Tung between 1927 and 1935 developed directly from his two perceptions: (1) that the desire of the poor peasant for a bit of land which he could call his own was a powerful political force; and (2) that if he associated the Communist movement with that force, he had a chance to build an effective military establishment in the countryside, with which he might ultimately seize power. This strategy was regarded for some time in Moscow as unorthodox.
From a Western point of view, however, there is nothing inconsistent with Communism about it. Lenin in his own way was equally flexible in his Marxism. The underlying truth is, of course, that long before 1917 and long before 1949, when Communism was victorious in China, Communism had ceased to be a philosophy of history and an ideological movement in the Western sense. It had become primarily a tactical conspiracy, by a self-appointed elite, for the pursuit and maintenance of power. As such, it was prepared to make its slogans fit its power requirements. Lenin, Stalin, and Mao all did this when occasion demanded.
We are confronted, then, with a first-class irony of modern history. Marxist theory had—and has—no sympathy or interest in the desires of the farmer. Nevertheless, Communist tacticians in both Russia and China achieved power in large part by harnessing to their purposes the peasant’s aspiration for his own land.

What happened to the peasant once the Communists took over? In Russia, Lenin found himself by 1921 in a position of crisis. The cities were not receiving their normal supply of food from the peasants, and famine stalked the land. Under the impact of wartime Communism, industry had fallen to about 20 per cent of prewar output. Perhaps most important, Lenin faced serious’ opposition within the ranks of his party. There were many in the Communist rank and file who had helped make the revolution of November 1917 but were angry and distressed in 1920 and 1921 to see emerge a bureaucratic dictatorship rather than the humanistic regime for which they had fought. In this period of crisis, Lenin ruthlessly crushed his political opponents, but appeased the peasants—for the moment. He launched a New Economic Policy one of whose aims was to induce the peasant to produce again for the urban market.
Between 1921 and 1929 the Russian peasant was basically free. He operated the land he had gained in the revolutionary year of 1917 for his own benefit and that of his family. He sold his grain on an open market, paying a fixed tax in grain which he generally judged to be fair: The more able and vigorous peasants acquired land and grew relatively well-to-do; and Russian agriculture, sustained by individual incentive, revived.

Miracle by Brute Force

With the launching of the First Five Year Plan in 1929 all this changed. Stalin had triumphed as the sale successor to Lenin after four years of bitter infighting within the Communist party. With his personal authority assured he turned to the problem of building a heavy industry in Russia and fastening an effective political control over the country. Whatever Stalin’s economic reasons for the collectivization of agriculture may have been, there is no doubt that one of its primary purposes was to guarantee political and social control of the Russian peasantry. From a Communist perspective the Russian peasantry enjoyed an unnatural and dangerous freedom in the 1920s.
The result was, of course, the brutal rapid collectivization during which, on Stalin’s testimony to Churchill, ten million Russians died. More than that, there was a 20 per cent fall in agricultural output. And as Khrushchev revealed in September 1953 Soviet farm production has never really recovered from the blow of collectivization.
How could Russia achieve its extraordinary industrial and military growth since 1929 with stagnant or even declining agricultural production? It could do so because Stalin launched industrialization at a peculiar moment in Russian history. The Russia which the Communists inherited was normally a grain-exporting nation. Before the first world war Russian grain exports were as high as 10,000,000 tons, and even in the midst of the First Five Year Plan Stalin could wring 5,000,000 tons of grain exports a year from the Russian soil and—at the cost of some starvation—from its peasants. The Soviet leadership has chosen to eat its way through its natural grain exports since 1929. And it has converted Russia into a country which may import more farm produce than it exports.
A second factor made Stalin’s policy workable. Despite its relative poverty, by Western European and American standards, the Russian standard of food consumption as of 1928 could he compressed and reduced without actually causing chronic starvation. This is another margin which the Russian Communists exploited.
Third, Russia began in 1929 with a sufficient industrial capacity to avoid the need for an expanding foreign trade during its First Five Year Plan. It could produce a high proportion of what it needed for industrialization from its own plants. A decline in agricultural exports in Russia did not, therefore, make industrialization impossible.

For twenty-five years, then, Russia has been able to afford an unproductive and enslaved agriculture. Now, however, history is beginning to catch up with Stalin’s ruthless decisions of 1929. The population in Russia has continued to rise and people have moved into cities. It is clear to Moscow’s planners that the smoldering, unproductive peasantry is a serious and costly problem. No issue since Stalin’s death has used up as much Soviet newsprint as the agricultural problem. It does not threaten immediate crisis in Russia; but it is evident that the leaders in Moscow no longer feel the same complacency that Stalin did about the consequences of collectivized agriculture.
Much the same is true of Communist-dominated Eastern Europe. There, too, Communist collectivization policies, although somewhat less drastic than Stalin’s, have broken the link between the peasant’s effort and his return; and agricultural output is sagging. There, too, in the post-Stalin period the newspapers are filled with stories of agricultural shortage and low productivity.
It is symptomatic of the agricultural decline in Russia and Eastern Europe that, after breaking from Moscow in 1948, Tito almost immediately began to back-track, on collectivization. There is every evidence that Tito learned rapidly that a system which does not appeal to the peasant’s self-interest is a costly totalitarian luxury.
The men in Moscow face, then, a significant dilemma. They know that high agricultural productivity demands that the Russian and Eastern European peasant be given real incentives to work hard and to produce efficiently. More than that, these concessions must appear to the peasant as permanent enough to inspire him to change his whole outlook on production. He has been beaten down and imprisoned for many years by the Communist leadership. He knows all too well the usual tricks of stick and carrot. His productivity cannot be turned on and, off like an electric light switch.
But if the peasant is to be given stable incentives, Moscow has to accept two major consequences: (1) The degree of political and, social control in the countryside must be lifted so that the peasant can enjoy an important degree of individual freedom. (2) Goods must be produced which the peasant wants to buy and can buy with what he earns. This means that the amount of production going into heavy industry and armaments must be relatively reduced in favor of consumers’ goods. Together these decisions involve, if they are taken—and they have not yet been taken—a significant reversal of political, social, and economic policies which Communism has systematically followed wherever it has seized power.

At present Communist leadership in Moscow and Eastern Europe has acknowledged that the problem exists; but it has drawn back from a fundamental solution. Moscow has by no means decided to reverse the process of collectivization and to give the peasant the environment and the incentives he requires if food is to be produced efficiently on the desired scale. Nevertheless the discussion in the Soviet and satellite press reflects a recognition that for the long pull the situation of agriculture under Communism is unsatisfactory, even dangerous to the leadership.
Thus the Russian and Eastern European peasant has demonstrated that he cannot be quickly converted into a rural industrial worker according to Marx’s formula, even by the full power of a modem totalitarian state. As Mitrany concluded:
Marx’s analysis of the evolution of agriculture has nowhere been proved right; his prescription for the organization of agricultural production has never come to be practiced as part of a normal economic evolution. The Marxist view of the political standing of the peasants has been made ridiculous by the dependence of the Communist advance on the peasants’ revolutionary impetus and action; while its expectation of a natural alliance between proletariat and poor peasants, as a result of class division in the village, has, in spite of much Communist effort, nowhere come to pass.

The Attack on the Chinese Farmer

In the Far East the Chinese peasant is beginning to make a similar demonstration. This is a different and more serious matter than it is in Europe, where the problem does not threaten an immediate major crisis. Russia and Eastern Europe can, in extremity, produce enough and export enough industrial goods to buy food abroad. To some extent this is what Russia is now doing. It is, of course, grotesque that Russia and Eastern Europe should become food-importing areas; but the situation in China is, from the Communist point of view, vastly more dangerous.
There, too, the Communists, once they had effectively seized power, turned on their peasant support much as Stalin did in 1929. They made good their promise to redistribute land from the rich to the poor peasant in 1949-50. But they did not redivide the land because they wanted a nation of small independent proprietors. They did it in order to wreck the social, economic, and political power of the village gentry and other middle-class elements in China whose income depended on the ownership of substantial amounts of land. In this way, agents of Peking supplanted the complex and diffuse authorities of village life.
When this job was done they began immediately to push the peasant into collectivized farms. The Chinese Communist model is drawn from Eastern Europe. rather than the Soviet Union. Its key institution is the producers’ co-operative, from whose total output a family receives a share. At first the share is computed according to the amount of land and equipment the’ family puts into the co-operative, plus the amount of labor contributed. But it is official policy that shares will rapidly become proportional to current labor, not past capital contribution. The family will then lose not only its capital but also its feeling of connection between output and effort. It is a share in the total that each family gets—a total averaging the vigorous and weak, the conscientious and lazy.
The producers’ co-operative is buttressed by policies which require the peasant to sell all his marketable output to the government at low fixed prices; which sterilize his cash in government banks; and which limit what he can buy through the spreading monopoly of government stores. There is not the slightest doubt that the Chinese peasant dislikes this collectivized organization of agriculture; and there is not the slightest doubt that the Chinese Communists have the intention and the ability to complete the process of collectivization they have begun. The latest statements indicate that they expect to place more than half of China’s peasants in producers’ co-operatives by the end of this decade; and the government monopoly of the grain trade is already a universal fact.

Why have the Chinese Communists betrayed their peasant supporters? Why are they taking risks with the level of agricultural output in China hy damaging the peasant’s incentive to produce?
They have launched this policy of collectivization for two reasons. First, they feel that unless the peasant is collectivized he will not be under Communist political control. Some 80 per cent of the people of China are peasants; that is, about 500,000,000 people are in rural families. In such a nation a free agriculture means virtually a free people. And this would be a denial to the Communists of their victory. Second, the Communists have decided to build, as a matter of over-riding priority, a heavy industry base: both to supply their armed forces and to guarantee that China can later continue to industrialize out of its own resources. This requires that the government control intimately the agricultural output of the country and that the government be in a position to use it for its own purposes: to sell abroad for arms and machinery; to feed the army, the Communist administration, its horde of men in forced labor, and the rapidly growing cities. The government in Peking does not appear confident that it can achieve this control over output unless collective farms are installed. Peking appears willing, in short, to risk less output if it can fully control what there is.
This is a greater risk for Communist China in the 1950s than it was in the Soviet Union during the 1930s. Whereas the Soviet Union could achieve its industrialization plan with a 20 per cent decline in agricultural output, China requires something like a 10 per cent increase. This is so because, unlike the Soviet Union, Communist China must increase its foreign trade to industrialize and because population is growing so rapidly in China. Peking now claims a population increase of 2 per cent per year, which means an extra twelve million mouths to feed.
What will happen if agricultural output does not increase by 10 per cent?We should be quite clear that up to a point the Chinese Communists can and will balance their books with starvation. In fact, to some extent, this happened last spring and is likely to happen again next spring. A Communist control apparatus can handle a high degree of discontent; and starvation is chronic in China.
There are, however, two dangers to Peking. First, a sustained failure of output to increase or a substantial decrease could create so vast a hunger in China that even a Communist control system could not prevent some kind of crisis. Second, a demonstration that Communist techniques in Asia lead to chronic starvation could damage or destroy the powerful belief in underdeveloped areas that Communism holds the key to rapid economic growth. It is this belief which is one of Communism’s greatest assets in the Cold War: in Southeast Asia, in the Middle East, in Africa, and even in Latin America.

Revolution by Consent

The most important conclusion at which I have arrived from three years’ immersion in the study of Communism is this: it lies within the capabilities of the United States and the Free World to shatter the belief in Communism as the unique method for rapid development. And we can do this over the next decade—by, say, 1965.
The faith and judgment which lie behind this conclusion stem not only from knowledge of how the peasant’s human response to Communist methods has affected agricultural output. This conclusion is supported by results already achieved in the Free World, notably in India, by the techniques of freedom, the method of individual consent.
India has begun its attempt to industrialize in a way exactly opposite to Communist China. China-is investing in heavy industry. India has plowed its scarce capital, for the First Five Year Plan, primarily into agriculture. China is forcing its peasants into collectives, by threat and force. India is trying to induce the peasant to improve his methods, to increase the use of chemical fertilizers, to install new irrigation facilities, to double-crop his land. All this is done painstakingly by education and example.

The results thus far are remarkably hopeful. The substantial increase in agricultural output planned in India for the First Five Year Plan has been achieved in three years; and the evidence is that a constructive chain reaction is sweeping the Indian countryside, far beyond the demonstration villages. The returns are not yet in; but there is a distinct possibility that this truth will become evident: in underdeveloped areas, starting from scratch, with a population predominantly made up of peasants, the method of consent is not only right morally, it is right technically as well.
A Free World economic program, with strong U.S. support, might demonstrate this simple truth, notably in the competition between India and Communist China. These two great nations are simultaneously attempting a radical transformation. Over the next decade they plan to put themselves in a position where economic growth will be relatively automatic. Throughout Asia, and throughout the vast underdeveloped portions of the world, the relative performance of Communism and Democracy at this monumental task will be closely watched and weighed.
Even Communist totalitarianism cannot afford enough policemen to follow the peasant about in his daily round and make him produce what economic growth requires. The devices of a police state, which work with tragic efficiency in urban areas, adapt with difficulty to the countryside.
In short, the fact that Marx was a city boy gives the Free World the chance to destroy in the next decade the myth that only Communist brutality can raise an underdeveloped area into self-sustaining growth. And if that myth is dissipated, the chance that Communism will gain power in the underdeveloped areas, whose destiny will determine the long-run balance in the world’s power, will be much reduced, if not once and for all eliminated.

US says Cuba is responsible for hunger strikers

US says Cuba is responsible for hunger strikers AFP/File – Inmates stand outside at the prison of Guajamal, in the outskirts of Santa Clara, east of Havana. The …
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States said Monday that Cuba had a responsibility to improve prison conditions, rejecting President Raul Castro's characterization of hunger strikes as US and European-backed "blackmail." State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the United States was concerned about overcrowding, poor hygiene and a lack of drinking water in Cuban jails, along with the detention of some 200 political prisoners. "Somehow prisoners are rebelling against these conditions and we're led to believe that this is the responsibility of the United States?" Crowley told reporters. "No, it's the responsibility of the Cuban government. It has fundamental responsibilities under international law for its citizens, including those in custody, and they should live up to those obligations," he said. He noted that Cuba does not allow foreign humanitarian agencies such as the International Red Cross to monitor its prisons. Guillermo Farinas, 48, a cyber-journalist who challenged Cuba's state monopoly on the media, has been on a hunger strike for the past month and has said he is ready to die. He decided to give up food when he learned of the death on February 23 of Orlando Zapata, 85 days into his own hunger strike to protest prison conditions. Castro on Sunday vowed never to give in to the dissidents' demands, calling it "blackmail" organized by the United States and Europe. The Cuban president charged that the United States and Europe were waging "an unprecedented publicity war" against Havana allegedly supported by "major Western media." The United States maintains a decades-old trade embargo on the Americas' only one-party Communist regime, but President Barack Obama took office last year offering to improve ties if Castro improved human rights.

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