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Cuban farmers can't sell coffee to the US, but the Government can

'If US money is to buy coffee directly from producers... it's 'dirty money;' but if it's to line government coffers... it's clean.'

La Habana

There's nothing new under the Cuban sky. It was recently announced that Cuba's National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) had rejected, "on behalf of Cuban coffee farmers" the possibility of selling their coffee directly to the US, in response to the Americans' announcement of their willingness to include coffee in purchases to be made from Cuba, provided that they came directly from producers, without State intervention.

Now we have learned that Nestle will export coffee produced in Cuba, which will be available for Nespresso machines, in coffee capsules dubbed “Cuban Nespresso” or “Cafecito de Cuba" starting next September/October.

So, who will sell the Cuban coffee to Nestlé? The news story does not mention it, but could there be any doubt? The only party that can authorize itself to: the Cuban government.

The Government-Party State never fails to remind us, every day, of its totalitarian, monopolistic and semi-feudal character. It turns out that it grants itself the right to sell to the US, through Nestle, the coffee that it buys from farmers, via its monopoly, but farmers are not permitted to do so, as this would be supporting "imperialist policy."

If the consequences were not so tragic for the coffee farmers, and the Cuban people, the lack of scruples, hypocrisy and double standards the Government demonstrates in its trade relations with the US would be laughable, as would be how it exploits Cubans' work as an intermediary – whether they are doctors, tourism workers, sugar producers, tobacco farmers, or coffee farmers – and sells it to the highest bidder, ignoring Che's maxim, which they like to cite, but not to apply to themselves: "don´t give imperialism a thing."

If US money is to buy coffee directly from producers ... it's 'dirty money;' but if it's to line government coffers ... it's clean. If it's to help the opposition ... it's laden with foul intentions; if it's for the Government ... it's appreciated. How long will this double-talk and these double standards, criticized in others, prevail?

But it must be noted that this monopoly also applies to the domestic economy, where the State controls virtually all industrial production (what remains of it), the vast majority of services, and also seeks to control all agricultural production, functioning as the sole intermediary between producers and consumers, with imposed procurement costs, and without taking into account the interests of direct producers and sale prices, decided in CUC for the State's benefit.

This is nothing new in Cuban history, either. The Spanish Crown, the feudal and colonial government that conquered Cuba, wiped out almost all its natives and brought over thousands of Africans to exploit them as slaves, did the same thing, and not only with official tobacco shops, or estancos de tabaco – a system barring Cubans from selling their tobacco to anyone but the Spanish government – but with all foreign trade.

These were and are feudal policies. Hence, many have not hesitated to identify so-called "State socialism" as a new form of feudalism, precisely because of the absolute role assigned to the State, and its rulers’ unlimited authority and lifetime terms in power.

Thus, in that dark era, the Government went after Cubans who sold their spirits and cattle to "buccaneers" – merchants in the Caribbean region who smuggled Cuban products, in high demand, to the US and other countries.

It was precisely this monopolistic policy that sparked a revolt by vegueros (farmers) in the early 18th century, Cuba's first independent mass military action against the Spanish Crown.

Today Cuba's Government-Party-State (Cuban because it´s in Cuba, not because it defends the interests of the Cuban people), not only boasts a monopoly on tobacco, coffee, sugar and sugar cane byproducts, but over the whole economy. This is precisely one of the root causes of the disaster wrought in Cuba: an eternally authoritarian and populist Government that functions like a set of feudal lords, invoking a kind of socialism that has ever even existed.

The model of the centralized state once again reveals that it has nothing to do with socialism, freedom, or democracy, and that its sole objective is to preserve the power of its elites.

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