ROBERTO ÁLVAREZ QUIÑONES | Los Ángeles | 10 de Julio de 2017 - 10:40 CEST.
If you were told that in a Latin American country almost 60% of the
fertile land available for agriculture is not even cultivated, producing
nothing at all, you would think they were pulling your leg, because in
the 21st century this is impossible.
But, alas, it is. The country in question is Cuba, a beautiful tropical
island covered with lush, fertile lands that astonished Columbus when he
first saw them 525 years ago.
How is this possible in a country that the FAO, in the 1950s, cited as
one of the greatest producers and exporters of food in Latin America in
proportion to its total population?
One of Fidel Castro's proselytizing pledges during his anti-Batista
movement, after causing the death of dozens of young people in the
disastrous assault on the Moncada barracks, was the promise that when he
came to power he would implement profound agrarian reform, handing over
lands to the peasants who worked them, and eliminating Cuba's sprawling,
General Batista fled the Island, Castro rose to power, and proceeded to
renege on those promises, seizing 77% of the nation's agricultural land
for the State. In this way he created his very own unproductive
latifundia, the largest in the country since Spanish colonization.
As a result, in the first two years of the statist "Agrarian Reform" the
production of sugar plummeted from 6.8 million metric tons to 3.8
million in the 1962-1963 harvest. The island ceased to be the leading
producer and exporter of sugar cane in the world, a title it had boasted
since the end of the 18th century. In 2017 Cuba produced 1.7 million
tons of sugar – three times less than the 5.1 million tons produced 92
Cuba devolved into one of the weakest of Latin American food producers,
with some of the lowest agricultural yields in the Americas, including
in sugar cane, in which it once was the world leader. If there were no
fatal famines it was because Moscow began to subsidize the dictatorship
to turn the island into a giant Soviet aircraft carrier, poised right
next to the United States, and to expand Communist ideology throughout
Even with the subsidies from the USSR, in March of 1962 the commander
had to implement a food ration card, which is now 55 years old, the
longest-lasting in the history of the Western Hemisphere.
With the "Agrarian Reform" the production of foodstuffs basic to the
Cuban diet tanked: meat, rice, milk, vegetables, fruits and vegetables.
From nearly seven million heads of cattle in 1958 for six million
inhabitants (one cow per inhabitant), today the figure is 3.6 million
undernourished cattle, for 11.3 million inhabitants (three inhabitants
per cow). This is why in 2016 it produced three times less meat and less
milk than in 1958, with twice as many inhabitants.
In the 1950s Cuba was self-sufficient in beef, milk, tropical fruits,
coffee and tobacco. And it was almost self-sufficient in fish and
seafood, pork, chicken, meats, vegetables, and eggs. It was the Latin
American country with the highest fish consumption, and third in
calories, with 2,682 daily. And it ranked seventh in the world in
average agricultural wages, at 3 pesos a day (equivalent to dollars),
according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Before 1959 Cuba imported 29% of the food it consumed. The Communists of
the time (the PSP) complained that figure was too high for such a
fertile country. Today, with the Communists in power, 80% of food is
State property vs. private
The regime refuses to hand over land to those who work or want to work
it, and forbids them from freely cultivating and selling their crops on
the market. It forces them to hand over the crops to the State, at
To make matters even worse, in the state distribution under the
monstrosity dubbed "Acopio," 57% of the harvested food is lost,
according to the ONEI (National Office of Statistics). The regime itself
admits that 56% of Cuba's agricultural land is idle, overgrown with
marabou. These last two statistics are more than enough to justify
General Raúl Castro's resignation tomorrow.
There is a total of 6.2 million hectares of agricultural land, of which
46%, or 2.8 million hectares, are owned by state companies (sovjoses in
the former USSR). 31%, or 1.9 million hectares, are also state-owned,
but delivered in usufruct to individuals under abusive contracts. The
remaining 1.4 million hectares, 23%, correspond to individual farmers,
working on their own or in cooperatives.
To appreciate their production, one stat suffices: according to the
ONEI, in the first half of 2015 state-owned enterprises, including the
state cooperatives dubbed "Basic Units of Cooperative Production (UBPC)
" produced only 10% of the 5.7 million tons of the vegetables, rice,
beans and fruits grown throughout the country. That is, 570,000 tons.
The other 90% (5.1 million tons) was produced by private farmers and
Incredible, but true. With about half of the land, the best in the
country, the socialist state produced one tenth of the total national
crop yield, while the other half, cultivated by private workers,
accounted for 90%. This manifests the absurd idiocy and arrogance of the
Castro elite, which refuses to accept the wisdom of the Creole saying:
"the master's watchful eye fattens his cattle." And it now spends $2
billion importing food.
Bonfires to burn ration cards
The evidence demonstrating the superiority of private property in the
agricultural sector - and in every other - is overwhelming. The military
regime has the obligation to deliver the Island's fertile lands to those
who wish to work them, and with their corresponding property deeds. Even
in China and Vietnam, under Communist governments, peasants are free to
harvest and sell what they produce.
Despite the fact that the Venezuelan crisis has exacerbated food
shortages in Cuba, due to the lack of money to import them and acquire
the supplies and equipment to render the land productive, Castroism,
instead of freeing up the island's productive agricultural forces,
tightens its grip.
At a recent meeting of the Council of Ministers, according to Granma,
"it was confirmed that the lands granted in usufruct are
non-transferable State property." In other words: let one get their
hopes up, because the land is owned by the State, and is only lent for a
time, which now will be extended to 20 years.
At the meeting, Marino Murillo, czar (somewhat obscure lately) of the
"updating of the Cuban model" revealed that interest in obtaining state
land in usufruct has declined. Of course, peasants and potential farmers
do not want to work on lands that are not even theirs and that they
cannot sell or leave to their children. Neither can they freely produce
and sell crops. And the regime can seize their land at any time, as has
already happened in Holguin.
Cuba is the only western country where agricultural and livestock are
not entirely in private sector hands. If agriculture were privatized and
the rights of citizens to economic freedom, and all the other rights of
modern man, were respected, Cubans would soon make bonfires to burn
their ration cards in the streets, and feed themselves properly, and
Cuba would once again be cited as an example by the FAO.
Source: Food scarcity, another Castroist crime | Diario de Cuba -