In this 2012 International Year of Cooperatives, as declared by the United Nations, Cuba announced how it plans to boost and spread, as an experiment in a first phase, this form of ownership so far only allowed in the agricultural sector, and due to the fact that cooperatives are, in essence, more social than other non-state forms of management, they will be encouraged, according to official sources.
According to the information aired in the recently concluded working session of the Cuban Parliament, there are several areas of production and services that were chosen in which implement this initiative, with more weight on the marketing of agricultural products, where for years various governmental formulas have been tried, emphasizing on price protection, and they have not succeeded.
It also opens up opportunities in the food services sector that are currently run by the government, after finding out that most people choose the "self-employed" variant because, even if they have to pay more, they feel that there are better chances of finding quality and variety.
Other more specialized activities, such as bird rising, fishing and shrimp farming, have been mentioned in the list that will integrate the first experimental cooperatives, whose number is around 220.
Recognized worldwide as "forms of solidarity economy", the creation of the first ones will start before the end of the year, and then others will be added gradually.
The “Cuban” cooperativization
Many of the small family business that opened from the expansion and relaxation of self-employment regulations in late 2010, amaze by the boom they quickly had, and the means and resources available to the activity.
While the country’s credit policy aimed at supporting this employment option plays some role, it must be note that it was not implemented until almost a year after the coming into force of the new rules on self-employment, which shows the weight of personal savings (mostly out of remittances), in shaping the initial capital for such ventures.
As in the case of cooperatives they will have collective ownership, since it was taken into account that many Cubans have no assets or funding to socialize them towards a common project. These structures therefore can be created from the knowledge and labor partners can contribute with, and by leasing property from the state (and even tools they can need).
This peculiarity of the development of the Cuban non-agriculture cooperatives has been considered a strength, as it will ensure that profits are distributed based on the work done by everyone, and not the resources made available by a minority of members.
In the event that, at the beginning, a member contributes with certain capital or indispensable resource of considerable value, this will be reimbursed by the other members of the cooperative, at the time and amounts previously determined.
In terms of taxes, in the recently passed tax law, which comes into force next year, it was also announced that it will benefit these forms of collective ownership.
Many are concerned about access to resources and raw materials, given the absence in the country of a wholesale supply market. According to official media, to guarantee supplies for the over 200 experimental cooperatives, "in the economic plan of 2013, the government will allocate some 100 million dollars."
We were used to talk about cooperatives with no “last name” because until now it was a formula limited to the agricultural sector (with slight differences between CPA and CCS and UBPC), but many Cubans will soon have the opportunity to participate in projects where ideas, efforts and results are shared equitably among diverse members with a similar purpose: to awaken the dormant desire to grow in the quality and variety of goods and services.