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A Contradictory Vision of Small Business in Cuba

Havana.

The US economy is characterized by the absolute rule of corporations and the relatively low importance of small and medium-sized enterprises in its economic system. Large companies systematically absorb those small and medium-sized ones that are most successful. Those who don’t resist the overwhelming competition from mega-corporations are driven into bankruptcy. Theses are development laws of monopoly capitalism.

It would seem that large corporations and small firms are the two poles of an inevitable contradiction of capitalist development.

That’s why it is so puzzling that, after the agreements between the Cuban and US governments to work together for the “normalization” of relations based on mutual respect of the sovereignty of each partiy, that the United States devotes so many efforts to presenting itself as a benevolent promoter of small private companies on the island.

This is easily seen in a number of actions, among them “spontaneous” offers of business management training that new small business owners in Cuba are receiving. Presumably, all the new small and medium-sized enterprises that have arisen comply with recent Cuban legislation. Its purpose is expand self-employment as a way to avoid over-employment in state-owned economic entities. These naturally comply with the requirements of Cuban laws for domestic investment. Cuban citizens are often surprised when they learn the identity of the owners of these companies.

According to Susan Crabtree of The Washington Examiner, in recent days, the White House convened a secret meeting organized by the Business Forward NGO group. It includes some of the most powerful US corporations, to discuss links with Cuba.

“As part of the ongoing engagement with the business community about the president’s efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, on Wednesday May 25, the White House will host a meeting of small- and medium-sized business leaders from around the country for a briefing on the administration’s Cuba policy,” the official told the Examiner.

It would seem strange that, departing from the classic neo-liberal principles of capitalism, the US central power intervened in issues so commonplace, typical of early capitalism.

Currently, most US citizens entering Cuba are not identified with a rejection of the policies of isolation and hostility towards the island, as had been the case previously. The latest are people who have been subjected to the process of global indoctrination promoted by the large corporations. Among other things, they strive to control the mass media, the means of communication, education, entertainment and others that serve to mold the thinking promoted by the elite of US imperial power.

They are, therefore, imbued with prejudices embedded in their consciousness for over half a century by the hostile regime-change policy and which conflates capitalism with democracy, which is almost its polar opposite.

Consciously or unconsciously, they pass along the goal of dividing Cuban civil society from the socialist state, with expectations –more or less obvious– that the United States might exert its control and influence on Cuba.

These efforts have been present in the “Programs for Transition to Democracy in Cuba” which were formulated since 2003 during the administrations of George W. Bush from 2004 to 2006, based on similar proposals from such US academic bodies as the Brookings Institution.

Spreading delusions and fantasies of the “American Dream”, these activities try to foster the desire to become rich at all costs among  newly self-employed Cubans, disregarding the new economic model of their country and its socialist authorities.  If successful, they would eventually be totally defenseless against the appetites of international capitalism.

Just as Cuba respects the capitalist structure that governs the United States with the pre-eminence of corporations and their methods to relate, the superpower should recognize the validity of the Cuban socialist system and the central role of the state which uses the market only as a tool to fulfill its eminently social role.

A CubaNews translation by Walter Lippmann.

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Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana.

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