From Economic Development of Latin America, 1970
Translated by Suzette Macedo
Singularity of the traditional Cuban economy
Cuba displays a number of peculiarities worth analysing separately in an overall study of the Latin American framework. Along with Puerto Rico, the island remained under Spanish rule until the beginning of this century, the colonial period having lasted almost a century longer in this area than in the rest of Latin America. When the Cuban people’s struggle to win their independence created impediments to US trade, the United States government used the conflict as a pretext for taking over the remnants of Spain’s former Empire in the Americas and Asia. Consequently, the Cuban National State started its independent life under the occupation of United States forces. This occupation has not yet entirely come to an end—the United States government still has a base on Cuban territory—and up to 1934 it could have been extended to the whole island at any time, ‘in the interests of the Cuban people’ as adjudged by the President of the United States, in accordance with the provisions of the famous ‘Platt Amendment’. The delay of almost a century in starting the process of building a nation-state, and the particular circumstances attending its emergence under the tutelage of a powerful neighbour, make the Cuban process unique in the Latin American context. However, Cuba’s singularity lies even deeper and its roots are to be found in the economic evolution of the island within the framework of the Antillean region.
The Spaniards first used the Caribbean islands as defence bases for their lines of communication with the mainland colonies. The indigenous populations, living at a rudimentary cultural level, were practically wiped out and extensive stock farming was established on the larger islands to supply the metropolitan fleets. From the seventeenth century, the smaller islands were occupied by the French and the English, who wanted to secure a foothold for an assault on the mainland. With a view to eventual penetration of the Spanish Empire, they encouraged white colonization of the islands they had occupied, founding settlements of small planters who combined the growing of subsistence crops with the production of tobacco and indigo for the European market. These settlements, which had been of political value to the metropolitan countries because they could provide colonial militias1 to be mobilized against the rich Spanish Empire, underwent profound changes during the latter part of the seventeenth century when the cultivation of sugar-cane was introduced into the islands by the Dutch settlers who had been driven out of the Brazilian Northeast. In fact, Dutch interests were responsible for developing sugar production in the Antilles. They financed sugar mills and the importation of slaves, provided technical assistance and guaranteed markets.
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From The Economic Development of Latin America and its principal problems
Raúl Prebisch, 1950. Translated by ECLA.
The margin of savings depends ultimately upon the progressive increase of labour productivity. Though the level of productivity achieved by some Latin-American countries is such that, by means of a judicious policy, they would be able to reduce the amount of foreign capital needed to supplement national savings to moderate proportions, in the majority of them this capital is admittedly indispensable.
In actual fact, productivity in these countries is very low owing to lack of capital; and the lack of capital is due to the narrow margin of savings resulting from this low productivity. The temporary help of foreign capital is necessary if this vicious circle is to be broken without unduly restricting the present consumption of the masses, which, generally speaking, is very low. If this capital is effectively used, the increase in productivity will, in time, allow savings to accumulate which could be substituted for foreign capital in the new investments necessitated by new technical processes and the growth of the population.
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This series will attain itself in the translation of Francisco de Oliveira’s “Critique to a Dualistic Reason: the platypus”. It will be used, for the translation, the 4th reprint of the author’s work (OLIVEIRA, Francisco de. Crítica à razão dualista: o ornitorrinco. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2013, primeira edição, quarta reimpressão). Notes from the translator will be identified with “T. N.” (translator’s note).
V. S. Quintas
This essay was written as an attempt to answer the interdisciplinary questions drafted by CEBRAP [Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning] regarding the socioeconomic expansion of capitalism within Brazil. CEBRAP’s endowment for such a peculiar intellectual environment of discussion, favored the author’s endeavor. The author is thankful for the criticisms and suggestions from his colleagues, particularly José Arthur Giannotti, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Octavio Ianni, Paul Singer, Francisco Weffort, Juarez Brandão Lopez, Boris Fausto, Fábio Munhoz and Regis Andrade, as well as Caio Prado Jr. and Gabriel Bolaffi, who participated in seminars about the text. Any fault or error found in this document cannot be attributed to any of them, evidently.
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1. “Imperialismo: fase superior do capitalismo”, Vladimir Lenin.
Em seu texto, Lenin busca <<decifrar>> as básicas fundamentações de um período de desenvolvimento do capital (e do capitalismo por si), que mescla em sua condição um assentamento geral da classe dominante e uma surgente inquietação nas classes exploradas. Decifrar como as condições do desenvolvimento do capitalismo se faz em um momento que a mundialização extensiva das forças produtivas, das relações sociais, dos meios políticos capitalistas se faz uma regra posta em prática, é o objetivo do texto.
Esta mundialização do capital é dada em uma etapa do capitalismo chamada de Imperialismo. Pode ser caracterizada através de uma cadeia hierárquica que retroativamente determina uma a outra categoria descrita.
A mundialização em si é uma característica intrínseca ao capitalismo, porém sua forma decorrente se faria uma nova mutação das forças exploradoras em delinear sua hegemonia. Em via de regra, podemos caracterizar a mundialização desta forma:
- Concentração e centralização de capitais, implicando na formação de monopólios e oligopólios;
- Fusão do capital produtivo (industrial) com o bancário, e vice-versa, constituindo o capital financeiro;
- Aumento da importância das “exportações de capitais” (IED e empréstimos internacionais), em oposição ao comércio tradicional.
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