Cuban sugar industry and labor

From: Steve Gabosch (
Date: Thu Feb 05 2004 - 13:14:20 PST

This is a continuation of the labor process theory discussion.

The article reprinted below on the sugar industry in Cuba is lengthy, but
of special interest to those interested in Cuba, and in issues of
labor. In my opinion, Paul Adler's discussion of the socialization process
in modern capitalist industry is sharply enhanced by this kind of study and
journalism regarding the socialist process in the Cuban economy.

Sugar production has been at the heart of Cuban economic activity for a
century and a half, and remained so even during the first decades of the
Cuban Revolution. This is now being radically restructured. What will be
the social, cultural, and historical consequences? Will Cuba be able to
survive? What about the sugar workers? Will this be a major step
backwards for them and their families? Will this be a devastating social
upheaval for Cuba?

The article below touches on the history of the sugar industry in Cuba, and
how economics in the last 15 years has been forcing the Cubans to radically
cut back its dependence on producing sugar, why Cuba has continued to be
dependent on sugar, and how the collapse of the Soviet Bloc shook the Cuban
economy to its foundations. It explains, from a Cuban point of view, why
100,000 sugar workers are being laid off and dismissed from the sugar
industry, and dozens of sugar mills are being closed.

What is especially striking and meaningful to me is the way the Cubans are
dealing with the sugar workers themselves. This is the heart of the social
consequences of these economic processes. This article offers a general
answer. There will be a second article from this weekly socialist
newspaper going into that issue in more depth.

- Steve
The Militant Vol. 68/No. 5 February 9, 2004

Radical reorganization and
cutback of Cuba’s sugar industry
Restructuring of island’s largest agro-industry
lays basis for diversification of food production
(feature article)

(First of two articles)
HAVANA­A December 24 report to Cuba’s National Assembly by Economy and
Planning Minister José Luis Rodríguez confirmed that the country’s 2002-03
sugarcane harvest resulted in the “less than satisfactory” production of
2.2 million tons of raw sugar.

While the Cuban government had expected production to be less than the 3.6
million tons of raw sugar produced in 2001-02, the decline was
substantially greater than anticipated. Similarly low production levels
have not been seen since the early 1930s, at the depth of the Great
Depression, when output dropped just below 2 million tons. In order to
fully meet long-term contracts to supply sugar to other countries, Cuba
will have to buy sugar on the world spot market.

The 2002-03 harvest is the first since Cuba began a radical reorganization
and cutback of its sugar industry in April 2002. The shortfall registers
the scope of the challenges in sugar production still confronting Cuban
workers and farmers and their government.

New government measures
Numerous measures have been taken by the Cuban government over the last
year and a half to reshape what has been at the center of Cuban agriculture
and industry for more than 150 years:
    * 70 of the island’s 155 sugar mills have been closed (50 had already
been idled prior to the April 2002 decision);
    * 3.4 million acres of land (1.38 million hectares) have been taken out
of sugarcane­some 62 percent of the total land area previously devoted to
the crop­and allotted to other agricultural uses;
    * the number of workers employed in sugar production has been reduced
by one-quarter­from some 420,000 to 300,000; and
    * 100,000 former sugar workers have been guaranteed their former wage
rate as they take the opportunity to enroll in further education and job
retraining, and make the transition to new occupations­where they will
continue to receive no less than the wage they were earning as sugar
workers for the rest of their lives.

The goal of this transformation is to concentrate resources on the most
efficient mills and or the best land for the cultivation of sugarcane in
order to cut the cost of producing a pound of sugar to below the long-term
average price the crop brings on the world market. The annual production
target is to average some 4 million tons to meet domestic consumption and
international contracts.

This transformation of the sugar industry would further advance what has
been a goal of the Cuban Revolution from its outset: breaking the
stranglehold of Cuba’s economic dependence on sugar and further
diversifying both agriculture and industry. The timing of the decision to
introduce these changes now, however, was not dictated by that goal. Nor
was it determined by the long-term decline of raw sugar prices on the world
market (which have fallen at an average annual rate of some 1.5 percent,
adjusted for inflation, over the second half of the 20th century).

The timing of these moves is the product of Cuba’s increased vulnerability
over the last decade to the pressures exerted through the world market and
Washington’s economic warfare, as well as the need to reverse the growing
obsolescence of Cuba’s sugar industry. The inefficient production methods,
machinery, and exceptionally high cost structure of Cuba’s sugar
agro-industry are a legacy of three decades of production geared to demand
and trade agreements with the countries that were then part of the
Soviet-dominated Council for Mutual Economic Cooperation (Comecon).

Opposite of capitalist ‘downsizing’
Workers in any capitalist country know that when their bosses start making
proposals to “restructure” production and increase efficiency, the last
thing they have in mind is the well-being of the producers. Words like
“downsizing,” “rationalization,” “productivity,” “competitiveness,” and
“modernization” have become synonyms for brutal speedup, layoffs, wage
cuts, longer workdays, union busting, and social devastation.

The leadership in Cuba has set out to demonstrate that none of this will be
the case in the cutback of the sugar industry, a restructuring within which
workers and their organizations are helping shape each decision and
supervising the implementation of each step.

To find out more about this process, a team of Militant reporters spent
several days last year with leaders of the Central Organization of Cuban
Workers (CTC) and National Union of Sugar Workers (SNTA), as well as Sugar
Ministry economists and technicians, and visited one of the closed sugar
mills in Havana province, the Camilo Cienfuegos complex in Santa Cruz del
Norte. The large mill had previously employed more than 1,700 workers.
There we met and talked with scores of them about the changes (see article
in next week’s issue).

“In carrying out this reorganization, which involves substantial cutbacks
in the number of workers employed in sugar production, we proceeded from
two principles,” Pedro Ross told the Militant. Ross is the national union
federation’s general secretary and a member of the Council of State.

“First, that no worker would be abandoned, left to fend for themselves.

“And second, that the workers and communities affected by the
reorganization would come out of the process better off, discovering they
had benefited from it.”

One fact explains the difference between what happens to workers in Cuba
and workers in capitalist countries such as the United States and United
Kingdom in face of such changes. That fact is the socialist revolution
initiated by Cuba’s workers and farmers more than 40 years ago.

Roots of Cuba’s monoculture
The roots of Cuba’s dependence on sugar for export earnings are found in
the legacy of four centuries of Spanish colonial domination followed by
more than half a century of U.S. imperialist exploitation.

Following the successful slave revolt and victory of the Haitian Revolution
of 1791-1804, Cuba, under the boot of imperial Spain, was transformed into
the world’s largest sugar producer, using slave labor on an increasingly
massive scale.

As Cuban President Fidel Castro explained in an Oct. 21, 2002, speech to
10,000 sugar workers and their families in the town of Artemisa in Havana
province, the entrenchment of a sugar mono-culture accelerated even more
rapidly in the second half of the 19th Century following the devastation of
Cuba’s coffee-growing plantations by two powerful hurricanes in 1844 and 1845.

The historical “accidents” that led to the dominance of sugar production
also prolonged the life of slavery on the island. Almost 600,000 slaves
were brought into Cuba between 1816 and 1867, more than were brought to the
United States over the entire period of the slave trade. In Cuba, more than
half the slaves labored­and died­on the sugar plantations. Only in 1886 did
the Spanish colonial government in Cuba outlaw the use of slave labor. Cuba
and Brazil were the last two countries in the Americas to do so.

With the defeat of Spanish colonial rule in 1898, Cuba immediately fell
under Washington’s military occupation and was subjected to U.S.
imperialist domination. Vast new sugar plantations and steam-powered mills
were established under the ownership of wealthy U.S. families. Corporations
such as United Fruit supplied North American markets for 60 years. Cuba
became the top sugar-exporting country in the world­as the U.S. rulers
prospered off soaring demand created by two world wars, while millions of
Cuban workers and farmers lived in desperate poverty.

1959 revolutionary triumph
All that came to an end in 1959. Cuban workers and farmers, led by the July
26 Movement and Rebel Army under the command of Fidel Castro, overthrew the
U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and opened the road to a
deep-going social revolution.

As the victorious rebels had promised, the new revolutionary government
implemented the most far-reaching land reform the Americas had ever seen.
Millions of acres of land owned by U.S. families and their corporations
were expropriated and turned over to the rural toilers who had long worked
them. The land was nationalized, so peasants would no longer face debt
slavery and foreclosures and would be guaranteed permanent stewardship of
the soil they tilled. The former owners were compensated with long-term
bonds funded by future earnings from the sugar quota, the annual sales they
had previously been guaranteed by the U.S. government.

Washington retaliated by drastically cutting the sugar quota, and soon by
barring all Cuban trade with the United States. It set about organizing to
overthrow the revolutionary government. As the struggle deepened, Cuban
working people expropriated the remaining U.S.-owned corporations,
overturning capitalist rule and breaking free from imperialist domination.
“Sin cuota, pero sin bota” (without the quota, but without the boot), a
slogan that appeared on walls and placards across the island, captured the
revolutionary spirit.

Washington has not forgiven the Cuban people for their audacity and
dangerous example. And never will.

Comprising the largest single component of the working class in Cuba, sugar
workers had long been in the vanguard of revolutionary struggles. Following
the 1959 victory, organized and led by their revolutionary government, they
proceeded to transform the sugar industry as well. Profits wrung from the
labor of peasants and farm workers no longer poured into the coffers of
U.S. and Cuban exploiters. Privately owned plantations were expropriated
and replaced by cooperatives and state-owned farms. Revenue from sugar
production was turned toward national economic development aimed at
increasing labor productivity and improving the living standards of working

The conditions of sugar workers themselves were radically transformed. The
infamous tiempo muerto­the nine-month “dead period” between harvests,
during which most sugar workers were jobless and their families went
hungry­disappeared. There was a shortage of labor everywhere, as workers
and other volunteers built housing, schools, and clinics and attended to
other social needs.

In a few short years, as the harvest and other backbreaking agricultural
jobs were mechanized, workers increased their productivity on the farms,
and hundreds of thousands of toilers were released to take on other work.
Schools, clinics, and hospitals were established, free for everyone. An
internationalist-minded revolutionary armed forces was constructed. Farmers
and workers in the countryside and cities exerted growing weight in policy
decisions related to development of industry and defense of Cuba’s
socialist course.

Goal was to diversify
At the session of the National Assembly a little over 12 months ago in
December 2002, Sugar Minister Ulises Rosales del Toro reminded delegates
that during the opening years of the revolution, Cuba’s oft-reiterated goal
was diversification of agriculture and the reduction of Cuba’s dependence
on sugar. He quoted an August 1960 speech by then-prime minister Fidel
Castro outlining this goal to 600 sugarcane cooperative coordinators some
10 days after the nationalization of U.S. sugar interests. Despite early
efforts in that direction, however, this course of action was diverted.

“Only because of the emergence of a market with fair and stable prices with
the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries did we postpone that
strategy,” noted Rosales del Toro.

“Over the course of more than three decades, the revolution built up the
sugar agro-industry until it reached a productive capacity of some 10
million tons of raw sugar” in order to fulfill trade agreements with the
Soviet Union and other Comecon countries. Rosales del Toro reminded
delegates of Castro’s remark that “if it had been possible to grow cane in
flower pots, the wealth that meant for Cuba would have fully justified it.”

Between 1959 and the opening of the 1990s, Cuban workers produced an
average of 6.4 millions tons of sugar a year, surpassing 8 million a half
dozen times.

“When the Soviet Union and socialist camp disintegrated, however, the base
of support sustaining this fabulous market collapsed,” Rosales del Toro
explained. “Our ability to cover the costs of production fell drastically,
as we again had to sell on the world market.”

Cuba’s sugar production had become dependent on extensive cultivation of
land ill-suited to sugarcane, requiring large quantities of fertilizers,
pesticides, and fuel obtained through barter arrangements on favorable
terms with the oil-rich Soviet Union. The highly mechanized process relied
heavily on gas-guzzling Soviet-produced tractors, as well. In the early
years of the revolution, when relative sugar and oil prices were such that
one ton of sugar could buy 8 tons of oil­as opposed to today’s ratio of 2
tons of sugar to buy one ton of oil­there was little economic incentive for
Cuba to develop more efficient machinery, Cuban president Fidel Castro
explained to the sugar workers in Artemisa.

The biggest problem was the one that Castro explained so clearly almost a
decade earlier to a November 1993 congress of the Union of Writers and
Artists of Cuba (UNEAC). The Cuban leadership acted on the assumption that
the Soviet and Eastern European regimes would last forever, he noted, and
so would the aid. When the collapse of these regimes began, it was “as if
they said one day that the sun wouldn’t rise,” Castro told the UNEAC
delegates. “Everyone expects the sun to rise every day in the same way that
everybody, revolutionary or not, expected that the socialist camp would
continue to exist and that the USSR would continue to exist. But what
happened to us was as if one day the sun didn’t rise at 6:00 a.m., nor at
7:00 a.m., nor at 10:00 a.m., nor at 12 noon, and in the midst of this
darkness we have to look for solutions.”

The long-term Comecon trade agreements had accounted for 85 percent of the
island’s imports and the majority of its export contracts for sugar. With
the abrupt cancellation of these trade pacts, sugar output was devastated
in Cuba. Production fell precipitously from a high of 8 million tons in
1989-90 to roughly 4 million tons in 1992-93. It has remained at that level
or less ever since.

Even so, Rosales del Toro explained in his 2002 National Assembly report,
“during the first seven years of the Special Period, the Sugar Ministry
tried to restore production of cane and sugar, and did not dismantle the
industrial capacity to do so.” Such a course had remained possible during
those years, he explained, when world sugar prices were fluctuating between
18 cents and 12 cents a pound and oil was running closer to $15 a barrel
than the current $30.

By 1998 Cuba had fought its way through the worst years of the Special
Period­its very survival had been at stake! With some hard-won breathing
space, the leadership began to implement a course toward decreasing the
size and weight of the sugar sector and accelerating the diversification of

April 2002 turning point
In early 2002, as Fidel Castro told the sugar workers in Artemisa, sugar
prices on the world market had plunged to less to less then 6 cents a
pound. “In April it became crucial to make an immediate decision,” he said.
To proceed with the planting of 270,000 hectares “would have been
disastrous.” Reorganization was imperative. Simply put, Castro said, the
government decided “to select the best sugar mills, with the best lands,
the ones with which we were producing sugar, or we could produce it, at a
cost of even less than four cents” a pound.

The April 2002 decision was influenced by additional factors, Castro told
the workers in Artemisa. Not only had the price of oil risen to $27 a
barrel, but with the approach of a U.S.-led imperialist war against Iraq,
the Cuban government had no alternative but to draw up contingency plans
anticipating an even greater spike in fuel costs. That same month, he
noted, there was also a “coup attempt in Venezuela, which interrupted our
supplies for several months…. We had to spend even more money to obtain
oil.” Venezuela supplies one-third of Cuba’s oil. “This is when the
decision was made to restructure the sugar industry,” he said.

Crisis for sugar-producing nations
The crisis in the sugar industry is not unique to Cuba. Many semicolonial
sugar-producing nations face similar challenges: increased use of sugar
substitutes and other sweeteners in the industrially developed countries,
obsolete technology, the imbalances and shocks reinforced by the lack of
diversification of agriculture and industry, and aggressive protectionism
by the U.S. and European Union governments in relation to their own cane
and beet sugar growers. These factors and others have led to a tendency
toward overproduction on the world market.

Many countries in the semicolonial world have been forced to scale back
sugar production as well. In these capitalist countries, unlike in Cuba,
however, the consequences for workers and farmers have been devastating.

A May 2002 report by Cuba’s Sugar Ministry cites the example of a sister
Caribbean country, the Dominican Republic. Despite having a preferential
quota with the United States, the report says, sugar production in the
Dominican Republic has been reduced by one-third since 1960, and over the
last decade almost half its mills have been closed. The impact on sugar
workers has been catastrophic. Working conditions of Dominican cane
cutters, in particular those of superexploited “guest workers” from Haiti
along the border between the two countries, are notoriously brutal.

Sugar production by countries in the Caribbean has fallen by more than 50
percent over the past 18 years, declining precipitously from 11 percent of
world output in 1985 to 3 percent last year. In the Philippines, once an
important sugar-producing country, tens of thousands of former sugar
workers are now jobless or permanently underemployed. On the island of
Negros, the country’s main sugar-producing region, the decline in output
has drastically increased poverty and malnutrition. Since 1980 sugar
production has also fallen sharply in Indonesia and in Malaysia.

In addition, imperialist governments use numerous protectionist measures
against Third World imports, including subsidizing the production of sugar
in their own countries, dumping surpluses on the world market, and imposing
tariffs on imports. In the United States the domestic price of sugar, about
21 cents a pound­more than three times the world market price­is supported
by protectionist tariffs as well as quotas that limit imports from
countries in the Caribbean and elsewhere. The European Union countries
subsidize their domestic beet sugar industries to the tune of $1.5 billion
a year. The surplus dumped on the world market contributes substantially to
the depression of world sugar prices.

U.S. economic war
On top of these challenges common to all sugar-producing countries in the
semicolonial world, however, Cuba continues to face Washington’s more than
four-decade-long economic war against the revolution. One of the early acts
of that war was the decision by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to slash
Cuba’s sugar quota by 95 percent in July 1960. The administration of
President John F. Kennedy subsequently barred not only all remaining
imports of Cuban sugar but imposed a complete embargo on trade with Cuba.
Among many other consequences, the embargo cut off access to spare parts
for machinery used in sugar production, much of which was U.S.-made.

With the Torricelli law adopted in 1992 during the administration of George
Bush Sr., and the Helms-Burton law signed into law by President William
Clinton in 1996, Washington has further tightened its embargo. The 1992 law
bars trade with Cuba by U.S. subsidiaries abroad, and penalizes ships that
dock in Cuba by prohibiting their entry to U.S. ports for 180 days. The
1996 law allows U.S. businessmen to sue non-U.S. companies investing in
property that was expropriated by Cuban workers; this has led to a number
of foreign companies stiffening terms, canceling investments, and even
ending trade with Cuba.

The impact of these two U.S. measures on Cuba’s sugar agro-industry is
estimated by the Cuban government to be $70 million a year.

Inefficiency of Cuba’s sugar industry
Three decades ago, at the beginning of the 1970s, Cuba was the world’s
leading sugar exporter. By 2001 its exports were less than those of Brazil,
Australia, and Thailand, among others.

The cost of production of Cuban sugar­estimated to be 20 cents per pound at
the end of the 1990s­is more than twice that of Brazil and 20 percent
higher than the global average.

Cuba’s sugar milling complex is ancient. Upwards of 90 percent of the
factories here were built before 1925. The grinding capacity of the
majority of mills is small, and many have antiquated boiler houses badly in
need of rebuilding.

The soil structure of much of the land on which sugarcane has been planted
is low in nutrients needed for high cane yields. In recent years, Cuba has
sought to compensate for these obstacles by extending the length of the
harvest. Since the yield in sugar production is based not on the amount of
cane cut, however, but on the amount of raw sugar extracted per ton of
cane, extending the harvest ended up lowering the average yield, since the
quality of cane cut either late or early in the growing cycle is inferior.
Lengthening the harvest, moreover, worsens mechanical problems because work
is done in the rainy season, increasing inefficiency. Most importantly, it
has a cumulative negative impact on the following years’ crops.

Restructuring unavoidable
The restructuring now under way makes permanent many temporary measures
already initiated over the last half decade. Following the decisions of the
fifth Cuban Communist Party congress in October 1997, the 1997-98 harvest
began with 116 mills in operation. Forty had already been taken out of
production as too inefficient and too costly to repair.

In his Oct. 21, 2002, speech to sugar workers in Artemisa, Castro pointed
out that over the previous five years the number of idled sugar production
complexes had increased to 45, all but two or three of which had
effectively shut down. In 2002 the number had risen to 50.

“All these factors made the restructuring of the Cuban sugar industry
unavoidable,” Miguel Toledo, a member of the national secretariat of the
National Union of Sugar Workers (SNTA), told Militant reporters in an
interview at the union’s national offices. He cited “the bad and
deteriorating state of repair of the sugar mills, the fact that sugarcane
was planted on land of highly differing quality, making yields in some
areas of the country very good but in others very low, and the very high
production costs” resulting from cultivation methods and the poor condition
of the mills.

Steps to restructure industry
In 2001 a Central Government Commission chaired by Carlos Lage, secretary
of the Council of Ministers, was established to oversee this
reorganization, Toledo explained. The commission includes other ministers
as well as the national leaders of the CTC, SNTA, and the National
Association of Small Farmers (ANAP). A separate Ministry of Agriculture
commission was also established, and the two commissions have met weekly
ever since. Commissions were also established in all 13 provinces and in
each of the 155 production complexes. Their work led to the decision to set
an annual production target of 4 million tons of raw sugar.

“Meeting this goal will supply Cuba’s domestic requirements of 700,000 tons
annually and provide more than 3 million tons for export to meet our
international commitments,” Toledo explained. “After the shutdown of 70
production complexes, it will leave 85 running. Of those, 71 will be geared
toward sugar and 14 toward the production of enriched syrup for use in
animal feeds, alcohol, and medicines for which a significant export market
exists, especially in Russia, China, and Japan.”

Integral to this plan is the more effective use of the sugar by-product
bagasse as an energy source. “The sugar industry used to be a heavy
consumer of imported oil,” said Tirso Sáenz, president of the National
Association of Sugar Technicians, in an interview with the Militant. Today,
in fact, the sugar industry contributes to meeting Cuba’s energy needs.

Overall, the reduction in acreage and mills is designed to release
substantial resources for other sectors of agriculture and industry­workers
first and foremost, as well as machinery and equipment, fuel, fertilizer,
and land.

Workers discuss, back plan
The government’s plan was submitted to assemblies of the sugar workers for
discussion. Union leaders and sugar workers described to us the five rounds
of assemblies in 2002 involving nearly one million workers. Workers
discussed everything from the overall plan and needs of the national
economy, to the consequences for the living standards, working conditions,
and lives of the sugar workers, their families, their communities, and
Cubans as a whole.

“The objective is to improve workers’ lives alongside the benefits accruing
to the country,” Toledo said. “All housing and other social services of the
local communities near the sugar complexes are being maintained intact and
improved. We’re working to improve quality of life through additional
libraries, theater, and other cultural groups, sporting activities, and
museums. Some workers, of course, will decide to move and take jobs

Toledo pointed out that diversification will result in expanded needs for
labor in other fields of agriculture and industry. But that transition will
not take place overnight. Part of laying the foundation for such a change
involves taking advantage of the moment for tens of thousands of workers to
have the opportunity to return to school full-time or part-time while
continuing to receive an income slightly higher than their previous wages.

Seventy mills began to be decommissioned on Sept. 1, 2002. Five are being
only partly dismantled as they are turned into museums, while another five
are being mothballed to serve as backups to those remaining in operation.
The newer, more efficient, and larger mills, concentrated in the eastern
part of the island, comprise the bulk of those that will continue to
process sugar.

“We’re striving to use the machinery and components of the decommissioned
mills as spares for those still running or for other uses,” Sáenz said.
“For example, the tubing inside the big mill cylinders is proving very
useful in new hi-tech greenhouses we’re developing. Some components we’re
selling second-hand to other sugar manufacturers in the Caribbean. So, a
bare minimum is being left to be recycled as scrap metal.” Paneling,
fixtures, and fittings are being sold off to the workers.

“Under the plan, the 1.38 million hectares [3.4 million acres] of land that
is being taken out of sugar production is being reclaimed for other uses,
principally reforestation, livestock, and milk production, and fruits and
vegetables,” Sáenz added. Some 700,000 hectares (1.7 million acres) of the
most productive land, where the harvest can be completed within 90-100
days, will be kept for sugar production.

Farm cooperatives
“About 97 percent of Cuba’s sugar cane comes from the UBPCs,” Sáenz noted,
referring to the cooperative farms known as Basic Units of Cooperative

The cane-producing UBPCs were established at the end of 1993 by
reorganizing the large state farms into smaller cooperatives, whose members
own and sell what they produce. That move was designed to give those
working the land more say in the operation of the farms, to increase
incentives to produce more effectively, and to drastically cut the large
numbers of workers assigned to administrative tasks on state
farms­sometimes exceeding 50 percent of the total work force.

“You could say the establishment of the UBPCs was the first stage in the
restructuring of the sugar industry,” Sáenz said. “Today we’re involved in
the further effort to put them on an efficient, long-term sustainable

The political leadership challenge in carrying through the massive
restructuring of sugar production­of leading the human beings who will make
this transformation a reality­is the single biggest task Cuban workers and
their government confront in reorganizing agro-industry.

The social and proletarian character of the reorganization of the sugar
industry is reflected by the summary presented in the “Programmatic
Document” prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2002 for distribution
to sugar workers. It served as a basis for discussion in the multiple
rounds of workers’ assemblies that molded the changes. The document states:

“With regard to the excess personnel resulting from the reduction in size
of the work force, there are inviolable principles:
    * No one will be left abandoned
    * All workers will have wage guarantees
    * There will be guarantees of employment or schooling for all sugar
    * One hundred thousand sugar workers will be able to be incorporated
into various advancement courses
    * All workers who continue working in the sector will remain members of
the sugar workers union
    * All farmers will continue belonging to the National Association of
Small Farmers (ANAP)
    * Agricultural workers whose income depends on output will continue
receiving their wages on the same basis.

“The number of those taking advantage of the option of requalification and
advancement­which will include the university level­is not limited by any
quotas. The enormous and noble goal we aspire to is incorporating 100,000
agro-industrial workers into these requalification and advancement
programs, and the facilities to accommodate them will not be lacking.

“It is possible to offer this exceptional opportunity today to our
agro-industrial workers, and it’s already been done with tens of thousands
of young people who were neither working nor attending school.”

(Next week: Cuba’s working people explain the effects on them of the sugar
industry’s reorganization.)

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