The cooperative arose as a part of a solution to the stresses on the Cuban economic model that sought to retain its socialist character while also acknowledging that the conventional system of direct state control of virtually all aspects of economic activity was not working. But the solution was constrained by the conceptual limits of restructuring, one in which the State would retain the power to aggregate capital and in which private economic activity was conceived as limited to a small and local retail sector. [La cooperativa surgió como parte de una solución a las tensiones en el modelo económico cubano que buscaba conservar su carácter socialista al tiempo que reconocía que el sistema convencional de control estatal directo de prácticamente todos los aspectos de la actividad económica no funcionaba. Pero la solución estaba limitada por los límites conceptuales de la reestructuración, uno en el que el Estado conservaría el poder de agregar capital y en el que la actividad económica privada se concibió como limitada a un sector minorista pequeño y local.]
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As long as Cubans continue to politicize the property component of corporate ownership, and split economic aggregation between aggregations of capital in corporate form operated as instrumentalities of the State, and aggregations of labor operated as highly regulated private cooperatives, it will not be able to meet its objectives under the Lineamientos or realize the promise in the new regulations. If the State is the only capitalist and labor is dependent on the State for the ownership of the fruits of the cooperative’s efforts, then the structural asymmetries of a capital-privileging regime remains.Yet reinforcing this system of State capitalism supported at the margins by labor cooperatives perpetuates the dominance of capital in a socialist society, denies the cooperative the space to meet its potential to rebalance the relationship between labor and capital in production, and ultimately may make it much more difficult for the functional realization of the potential of this experiment in cooperatives. [ Mientras los cubanos continúen politizando el componente de propiedad de la propiedad corporativa, y dividan la agregación económica entre agregaciones de capital en forma corporativa operadas como instrumentos del Estado, y las agregaciones de mano de obra operadas como cooperativas privadas altamente reguladas, no podrán cumplir sus objetivos bajo los Lineamientos o realizar la promesa en las nuevas normativas. Si el Estado es el único capitalista y el trabajo depende del Estado para la propiedad de los frutos de los esfuerzos de la cooperativa, entonces las asimetrías estructurales de un régimen privilegiado en capital permanecen. Sin embargo, reforzar este sistema de capitalismo de Estado apoyado en los márgenes por el trabajo las cooperativas perpetúan el dominio del capital en una sociedad socialista, niegan a la cooperativa el espacio para alcanzar su potencial de reequilibrar la relación entre trabajo y capital en la producción, y en última instancia pueden hacer mucho más difícil la realización funcional del potencial de este experimento en cooperativas.]
Reuters (23 March 2018)
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba's first wholesale outlet to supply former state-run eateries that are now cooperatives opened for business this week in Havana, a slap in the face to private start-ups that face higher costs.
· Interior Trade Minister Mary Blanca Ortega Barredo told state-run media at the weekend that the wholesale model would eventually go nationwide and include hundreds of smaller coffee, snack and other former state outlets now rented to the employees or interested individuals.
· She did not mention private initiatives that were not originally state-run.
· The move puts the private eateries that have emerged under market reforms to the Soviet-style command economy at a further competitive disadvantage, given the government has yet to deliver on its decade-old promise to provide them wholesale outlets.
· The first wholesale outlet will sell staples such as rice, beans and sugar, as well as soft drinks, beer, hamburger, chicken and sausage to the state-eateries turned cooperatives at a 20 percent to 30 percent discount.
· The government of President Raul Castro, who is due to step down in April, introduced cooperatives five years ago as an experiment, and a few dozen Havana state restaurants were ordered to go co-op in 2015.
· The premises were leased to original employees who were given the option of other work if they were not in agreement.
· Marino Murillo, head of the ruling Communist Party’s reform commission, said at the time that they would compete on a level playing field with private restaurants, but soon announced they would receive tax breaks as they were "a more socialized form of production."
Then, the government said in 2016 that "in the interest of protecting consumers," the co-op restaurants would receive a quota of lower-priced products such as soft drinks, beer and chicken in exchange for guaranteeing relatively low prices. The co-ops Two people with knowledge of Havana's restaurant system who requested anonymity said the new move had been taken because the co-ops found their quotas were running out quickly and state-retail markets, where private eateries must purchase supplies, too expensive.
"To avoid bankruptcy and keep prices low they turned to the black market," one source said.
The other source said the new model was somewhat similar to cooperative bus transportation in the Cuban capital, where in exchange for set fares they receive lower-priced fuel and parts.
The state, which has a monopoly on trade, owns thousands of restaurants, which have access to its wholesale system.
There are also around 100 cooperative restaurants and 2,000 private ones, all deemed to be part of the non-state sector, which, excluding agriculture, now counts nearly 600,000 "self employed" individuals out of 11.2 million residents.
Cuba lumps everyone not directly working for the state as "self-employed," regardless of whether they are employers or employees, cooperative members or individual tradesmen and kiosk operators.
The government last August declared a pause on licensing new cooperatives and private eateries, among other activities, on the grounds that the non-state sector needed improved regulation.