Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Havana nights without sugar

November 29, 2005


Havana nights without sugar
The shift from sugar is a necessary transformation for Cuba.

In a country with sugar as its main cash crop, the plant consolidations in 2002 that closed nearly half of sugar plants in Cuba shocked many. Similar closings are happening on a smaller scale in Cuba once again. For those who see the revolution as a continuing and constantly evolving project, this shift is more than an economic transformation — it’s a social one.
Since the era of colonialism, Cuban sugar has been the foundation of the country, and now Cuba has moved onto other means of profit, such as tourism, tobacco and its relationship with Venezuela, all of which contribute to Cuba’s stable economy. While it’s unfortunate that many have been left jobless, it was necessary for Cuba to move away from its dependency on sugar. The two-year drought highlighted this necessity. Moreover, low sugar pricing created by low demand because more than 100 countries already produce sugar, along with the existence of fructose substitutes and other alternatives to sugar, convey that Cuba needs an alternative source of income. Additionally, the need for Cuban sugar is not significant since many places now localize sugar plants. Communities such as Crookston manufacture their own sugar by processing sugar beets.
To lessen this burden on workers, the Cuban government is giving provisions to former sugar workers to go to school in hopes of acquiring skills in a different trade.
Even with the provisions, it’s scary when people can wake up one morning and find themselves jobless. For many workers, the mill was more than how they made their living; entire towns dedicated themselves to the production of sugar.
The fate of Cuban workers in the sugar industry is an unfortunate one, but industries do not shut down only in Cuba. The only difference between Cuba and the United States is that Cuba does so in the interest of securing its nation’s future, and because Fidel Castro wants to escape the industry that gained by the use of slavery. When a plant closes in this country, more than likely it opens in another part of the world in the name of cheap labor.

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