August 18, 1999


Tractors confiscated from independent farmers

Francisco García, Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes

CIEGO DE AVILA, Cuba August 12 - Sixteen tractors have recently been confiscated from independent farmers in the municipality of Morón, in eastern Cuba.

These tractors along with approximately 60 that are awaiting "revision of their ownership documentation" are part of the estimated 100 tractors in private hands in Morón.

The general opinion in Morón is that this equipment has been making a tremendous contribution to agricultural production and that the new measure will affect private producers and thousands of consumers who depend on them for basic foodstuffs that the government producers cannot supply.

There has been some generalized speculation that the government has taken this tack to forestall independent agricultural workers from joining independent cooperatives, which have demonstrated that, with scant resources, they can achieve better yields than the State cooperative enterprises.

A source that did not want to be identified said: "The authorities themselves issued the false ownership documents for much of this agricultural equipment, which in many cases was given, sold or traded for substantial quantities of produce."

Later the same source added that the same government representatives would look the other way when someone built a tractor with parts acquired in the black market.

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