Closing the gap: metabolic restoration in Cuban agriculture

Closing the gap: metabolic restoration in Cuban agriculture

By Rebecca Clausen

The recent agroecological development of Cuba offers concrete examples of how the gap can be closed, not simply with different techniques, but with a transformation of the socio-metabolic relationships of food production. The success of Cuban organic agriculture and its potential to influence other Latin American and Caribbean countries.

As John Bellamy Foster explained in "The Ecology of Destruction" (Monthly Review, February 2007), Marx explored the ecological contradictions of capitalist society as revealed during the nineteenth century, using the two concepts of metabolic gap and metabolic restoration. The metabolic gap describes how the logic of accumulation breaks the basic processes of natural reproduction and creates the deterioration of ecological sustainability. Furthermore, by "destroying the circumstances surrounding that metabolism", Marx adds, "it [capitalist production] demands its systematic restitution as a regulating law of social reproduction" - a restoration that, however, can only be achieved outside of capitalist relations of production.1 /

The recent agroecological development of Cuba offers concrete examples of how the gap can be closed, not simply with different techniques, but with a transformation of the socio-metabolic relationships of food production. Numerous scholars have described the scientific achievements of organic agriculture in Cuba. However, the success of Cuban organic agriculture and its potential to influence other Latin American and Caribbean countries must be understood not simply as the application of new agricultural technologies, but as an example of social transformation in its entirety. As Richard Levins notes, “to understand Cuban agricultural development it is first necessary to see it closely in the richness of its details… Then we take a step back and squint in order to capture as a whole the truly novel development path that Cuba is opening. as a pioneer ”.2 /

‘The Earth is the treasure, work is the key’

Marx's concept of metabolism lies in his knowledge of the labor process. Work is a process by which the human being mediates, regulates and controls the material exchange between himself and nature. Land, soil (and the ecological cycles that define it) and work, which is the metabolic relationship between human beings and nature, constitute the two original sources of all wealth. During a trip to Cuba with a group of agricultural researchers at the end of last year, I saw a horse-drawn cart transporting organic produce from an urban garden grown on high ground above ground, to a stand in a nearby community. I noticed a phrase painted on the wall of a warehouse: "The land is a treasure [sic], work is the key", land is the treasure, labor is the key. Observing a cooperatively managed farm producing and delivering organic vegetables to its community gives a visual picture of Marx's conception of metabolism. The land, providing the essential raw material, is treated as a “treasure” that cannot be exploited for short-term gains, but rather restored through a rational and planned application of ecological principles to agriculture (agroecology). And work, being the physical realization of a “key”, can access the wealth of the soil to provide healthy subsistence food, equitably distributed to the local community.

Marx has two meanings for the term metabolism. One refers to the regulatory process that governs the complex exchange between humans and nature, especially in relation to nutrient cycling. The second contains a broader social meaning that describes the institutional norms that govern the division of labor and the distribution of wealth. The analysis of the metabolic gap involves both meanings. In the ecological sense, Marx notes that capitalist agriculture ceases to be "self-sustainable" since "it does not find within it the natural conditions of its own production" 3 / On the contrary, nutrients must be acquired through long-distance trade and of separate industries that are outside the agricultural sphere. This creates a separation between the natural cycles of soil fertility and waste accumulation.

In the broadest meaning of metabolism, the gap is created between humanity and the natural world due to the relationship between wage labor and capital. Private ownership of land resources, the division between mental / manual labor and the antagonistic division between city and country illustrate the metabolic gap at the social level. Under capitalism the gap manifests itself in various ways, such as the primacy of corporate speculation in real estate, the loss of autonomy of subsistence farmers from the knowledge of technical "experts", and the demographic transition from rural to rural farms. urban centers.

‘This is [sic] nice work’

In Cuba I was fortunate to speak with many of the farmers who worked in the organiponic. I was frustrated that my elementary Spanish didn't allow for sophisticated conversations, but I was able to ask a basic question. "Do you like this job?" I asked a farmer who would take me to see urban gardens. Without thinking, he said warmly to me, "This is [sic] beautiful work," this is beautiful work. Through more translations and site visits in four Cuban provinces, I learned how food production transformation plays a practical role in Cuba; provides nutritious calories without the use of petroleum products, a general essential ingredient in the production of global commercial food agriculture.

The Cuban agricultural model reconnects the natural cycle of nutrients and establishes human work in the field with productive work in the cities. The transformation of socio-metabolic relationships allows biodiversity to act as a resource for food production, such as providing an environment conducive to beneficial insects, rather than a challenge to overcome. New models of ownership and distribution give rise to participatory decision-making at all levels of crops, harvests and consumption. It introduces a new type of labor relationship in which native farmers interact with trained agronomists to select the crops that are best suited to the natural environment, climate and geography. And in opposition to the disbelievers who question whether this model can only occur in Castro's Cuba, the farmers described recent experiences of travel to other Latin American and Caribbean countries to disseminate this new model of food production.

Reestablishing the Spatial Relationships of Nutrient Cycles

Cuban agriculture has been praised for the application of rational science to achieve organic agriculture.4 / The praise came from international organizations such as those that voted to award the Alternative Nobel Prize to the Cuban Group for Organic Agriculture for “developing methods organic farming ”The success lies partly in the discovery of new methods, but also in the transmission of new information for local implementation. The 280 successful Centers for the Production of Entomophages and Entomopathogens (CREEs) are a testament to the potential for the rational organization of a national program of biological control of pests with the production of organisms that attack insects that are crop pests. 5 / State-sponsored research developing natural pesticides and biofertilizers is crucial for creating alternatives to conventional agriculture; however, it is not the pivot on which metabolic restoration turns. To understand how the metabolic gap is closed in relation to ecological processes, one must understand the spatial reorganization of nutrient cycling.

The ecological understanding of the metabolic gap is based on the spatial relationships of the physical processes that regulate nutrient cycling. The separation of people from the land (country-city migration) creates a gap in the metabolism of nature-society relationships, since nutrients are transported away from the crops and farms where they originated, and accumulate as waste products in distant population centers. To replenish the depleted soil biostructure, capitalist farmers must obtain the nutrients through appropriation (ie, the historic guano trade) or industrial artificial production (ie, contemporary synthetic nitrogen) for continuous application to farmland. crops. This food production system breaks the natural process of nutrient cycling, and introduces new ecological contradictions associated with the energy requirements of long-distance trade in fertilizers while at the same time the nutrients accumulate with the sewage of cities. Similarly, the separation of agricultural animals from the soils that produce their food creates a metabolic gap by disrupting the material exchange between food grains / livestock and livestock dung / food grains. As Foster and Magdoff note, “This breakdown in the physical connection between animals and the land that produces their food has worsened the depletion of nutrients and organic matter in crop soils.6 / The consequent result of this is the intensification of fertilizer application required for grain production to meet the growing demand for concentrated livestock production. The separation of humans, livestock and crops breaks the reflux of nutrients to the soil.

Cuban agriculture for the past 13 years has been concerned with re-establishing the spatial relationship between nutrient cycles and the exchange of materials. A key principle of Cuban agroecology is the “optimization of local resources and the promotion of synergies within the farm through plant-animal combinations” 7 / Improving the spatial integration of plants, animals and humans can reduce the need for long-distance trade and replenishes soil fertility through nearby nutrient sources. Local socio-economic circumstances and biophysical constraints dictate the type of spatial arrangement of nutrient cycles that is possible. During my visits to Cuban farms I have witnessed how farming practices can sustainably cycle nutrients from local sources or from site synergies. Local resources are used to promote nutrient cycling with methods for their integration at the site. Each of these methods primarily seeks to alter the spatial relationships of nutrient cycles and the assimilation of wastes in food production.

Worms, Cows and Sugar Cane

The essential factor required by every farmer for successful food production is nutrient-rich soil. Before the Special Period, Cuba relied on imported synthetic fertilizers to obtain agricultural productivity. Today, organized systems that link labor, animals and crop by-products, and natural decomposition provide the essential nutrients for sustainable food production. The path to restoring soil fertility and health does not require long-distance trade or energy-intensive inputs, but lies in the functions of biodiversity and ecological efficiency.

During a visit to a cooperatively operated farm in eastern Havana, a farmer was kneeling beside one of many long rows of rectangular concrete shapes that served to contain a high density of Californian red worms. With the palm of his hand he took a handful of the first rich dark layer of the soil to show a small sample of 10,000 to 50,000 earthworms that inhabited that specific square meter of biomass. On a commercial scale of production, earthworms can produce 2,500 to 3,500 cubic meters of humus from 9,000 cubic meters of organic material (a cubic meter is approximately the same volume as a cubic yard) .8 / Vermiculture, the method that uses the Worm dung for soil fertilizer is carried out on the farm so that workers can monitor the temperature and humidity of the worm habitat on a daily basis, and apply this nutrient-rich supplement to crops at the right time. Vermiculture in itself is not a revolutionary technique, and yet in Cuba it represents the final stage of an integrated process that reorganizes the use of local products for food production.

The farmer explained how the worms can produce humus faster by using animal waste instead of plant waste, so they routinely obtain the cow dung from nearby farms. This manure is also a product of recycled local nutrients, considering that the food inputs used to feed the cows are by-products of local crops. Although Cuban research centers realized decades past that cattle could be well fed with forage grasses, legumes and crop residues, the prevalence and accessibility of cheap grains for cattle imported from Soviet countries left these benefits unexamined before the Special Period. . However, the change in the material conditions of food availability led them to a more thorough search for the most sustainable uses of local resources. Cuban researchers learned that by-products from sugarcane fields provided biological enrichment for bovine diets, and they began to use these “waste products” as primary supplements for bovine feeding.9 / Sugarcane by-products They include bagasse, molasses and cachaça, and also fresh cane residues such as the tip of the cane. Sugarcane as cattle fodder offers alternative solutions for both metabolizable energy and protein provision. According to two researchers on the Cuban agroecological state: “The experiences of the last 15 years of several countries have demonstrated the economic advantage of using sugar cane as the main source of energy for feeding cattle in the production of meat and milk. These systems are of special relevance for tropical countries during the dry seasons, the optimum season for the sugarcane harvest, and in turn, the most critical for the availability of pastures and forages ”.10 /

As the farmer pointed out this cascading path of nutrients from sugarcane fields to cattle stables, from cow dung to worm sources, from worm excrement to organic farming, I began to see how the nutrients within this province of Cuba were connected through the metabolic action of plants and animals. This particular flow of nutrients (sugar cane, cattle, worms, crops) that are delivered to local organic farms is not common throughout Cuba because other regions have different local resources that can be used. For example, in Matanzas - the first citrus producing province in central Cuba - orange peels are fermented in silos as livestock feed.11 / Substitution with local resources based on their availability minimizes energy expenditure in transportation and makes ecologically efficient use of local nutrients, thus altering conventional agriculture's spatial relationship between fertilizers and waste systems.

Another Pasture is Possible

While we were heading down a path towards the “Indio Hatuey” Experimental Station, I observed a forested and fenced landscape on both sides of the route. My naive assumption that this was some kind of fiberwood plantation reflects the narrow range of delineated possibilities with which I had been trained to identify as either forest or pasture. Specialized productions that produce a particular landscape is the standard model of intensive agriculture and represents one in which metabolic interactions between species are intentionally and intensively negated. The artistic sign at the entrance to the Forages and Pastures Experiment Station showing cattle grazing amid tall grasses and trees, surrounded by a symbolic bucket of science, was my first introduction to sustainable silvopastoral systems.

"Welcome on behalf of the workers," said Mildrey Soca Perez, the station's director of research. The presentation began with a description of the interdisciplinary and integrated objectives of this experiment station, followed by a discussion on the ecological efficiency associated with livestock-crop integration. Before the Special Period, Cuba relied on an intensive livestock grazing production model to ensure milk and protein for the population. The Special Period prompted the search for alternative means of livestock production using local resources. This knowledge was reconstructed from the traditional mixed systems of land use that small farmers had preserved. The spatial reorganization of crops and livestock production yielded mutual benefits of nutrient fertilization and waste assimilation.

In retrospect, Cuban researchers from the Institute of Pastures and Forages acknowledge that “the separation of crop and livestock production that took place wasted energy and nutrients” 12 / How the cattle left the forest trees and the researchers described the transfer of energy between cattle, tree leaves and pastures, I began to see the means by which this integration was another concrete example of filling the gap that had been produced between the constituent elements of our food production system.

The Indio Hatuey farm raises cattle in fields planted with the Leucaena leucocephala tree. Cattle eat the leaves and branches of this low, well-forked tree, and workers regularly prune them so that the branches are accessible to livestock. They also feed on the grasses that grow under the trees. Leucaena fixes nitrogen, replenishing the soil that feeds the grasses.

Also, cow dung helps increase soil fertility for trees and grasses. The use of organic manure in specialized monoculture systems and / or large-scale production units has high application and transportation costs, and specific work and equipment requirements. However, the Cuban researchers found that “when they maintain this system on a smaller scale and with a high degree of integration, the use of these techniques is much easier, and in fact it becomes a functional necessity of the system, while guaranteeing the cycles of nutrients ”13 /

Leucaena trees provide shade for animals, reducing the impact of heat and increasing productivity. To ensure ample photosynthesis for grasses, grasses are planted in extended rows from east to west to maximize sunlight reaching the ground. Leucaena roots prevent erosion by maintaining the integrity of the soil structure, and special attention is given to the cow-tree ratio to ensure that it does not end up compacting the soil. Researchers from this station found that this pasture system yields 3,000 to 5,000 liters of milk / hectare / year with quality increases in terms of protein and fat content. Additionally, silvopastoral methods reduce fluctuations in milk production between the dry and rainy seasons and increase the reproduction rate of cows.

Silvopastoral methods do not apply only to milk production and cattle grazing. These types of integrated systems are being investigated for sheep, goats, pigs and rabbits. The Indio Hatuey station also investigates equine grazing in orange groves. Horses remove weeds from the soil, reducing the need for herbicides and providing manure fertilizer to maintain soil fertility. From an economic point of view, the integrated orange / horse system yields a profit that reached 388 pesos / hectare / year higher than the monoculture of oranges without animals.14 / In each of these cases, the spatial relations of production of foods are investigated and managed in order to maximize nutrient cycling and adapt the production system to the biogeochemical profile of the local landscape.

Experience in the field of integrated livestock production is demonstrating the potential and feasibility of a broader conversion to the livestock-grazing system. This transformation has implications that go beyond the technical-productive level. These changes directly or indirectly influence the economic, social and cultural conditions of small agricultural farms by reinforcing their capacities for their own sustenance through local production. The Cuban farmers and researchers who explained the local and on-site processes of nutrient cycling helped me see the many hands of workers that allow the continuity of this process. New labor relations, new decision-making structures, and new patterns of food and land distribution not only allow Cubans to subsist on healthier food and in an ecologically sustainable way. These structural changes have fundamentally altered the metabolism of society.

Re-establishing the Labor Relations of Food Production Systems

As mentioned, Marx used the concept of metabolic regulation in a broader social sense to “describe a complex, dynamic and interdependent set of needs and relationships created and constantly reproduced in an alienated way under capitalism” 15 / The needs and relationships of metabolism They are regulated by the institutional norms that govern the division of labor and the distribution of wealth. The limitations of human freedom caused by the social metabolic gap gave Marx a concrete way of expressing the notion of the alienation of nature. This second meaning of metabolism goes beyond the physical laws of nutrient exchange and encompasses the transformation of labor relations and property ownership that must accompany ecological changes if long-term sustainability is to be achieved.

Conventional Cuban agriculture, dependent on fossil fuels and mechanization, was carried out on large state-owned farms that controlled 63% of the arable land. In the late 1980s, sugarcane plantations covered three times more arable land than food crops, making it necessary to import 60% of their food, all from the Soviet bloc. The severe food crisis that derived from the Soviet fall and the rigorous economic blockade of the United States, left a physical impact on the Cuban population in such a way that the Cuban, on average, lost 20 pounds (9 kilos) and malnutrition rose by less than 5% to more than 20% during the 1990s.16 / Agrarian reforms, which transformed land tenure and the distribution points of production, were the bases for the recovery from the food crisis.

In September 1993, the Cuban government restructured the state farms into self-managed worker cooperatives. The new programs transformed 41.2% of the lands of the state farms in 2007, new cooperatives with a total of 122,000 members17 / The cooperatives own their crops, and their members are compensated based on productivity instead of contracts on wages. In addition to being paid monetarily, the associated producers agree to provide meals to the workers and a place to grow and harvest family supplies. This change in tenure not only allowed for a better application of organic farming methods but also reconnected workers with the land. This reconnection occurred figuratively as shown by the description of the workers as “beautiful work”, and also geographically. The design of Cuba's agricultural systems takes into account the need to stabilize the rural population and reverse rural-urban migration. Cuban agronomists from the Forages and Pastures Research Institute understand that this can only be achieved by reordering productive structures and investing in the development of rural areas, giving agriculture a greater economic and social base.18 /

In addition to worker cooperatives, the Cuban government gave around 170,000 hectares of land to private farmers. This reflects Marx's view that "rational agriculture requires either small farmers working for themselves or associated producers having control" 19 /. The government retains title to the land, but private farmers receive free, indefinite rent and subsidized equipment. Many Cuban families now see agriculture as an opportunity and have left the city to become farmers. The National Association of Small Producers reports that its membership increased by 35,000 between 1997 and 2000. New farmers tend to be adults with young families (many with college degrees), those who retire early, or workers with a farming background. twenty/

The expansion of job opportunities in agriculture encompasses only one side of Cuba's food production system. The emphasis placed on urban organic gardens transcends the city / country divide using a different strategy - introduces food production systems in abandoned city spaces. Organoponics, small fields of crops raised above the ground, offer organic production to surrounding neighborhoods that were wastelands full of garbage, parking lots, demolished buildings. Today, urban gardens produce 60% of the vegetables that Cubans consume.

The urban agriculture movement began informally due to the need of urban residents to satisfy their basic food needs. The Cuban government recognized the potential of this type of agriculture and created the Department of Urban Agriculture to facilitate this movement. The state formalized the producers' claims for vacant lots for orchards and legalized the rights to sell their products. Any urban resident can claim up to 1/3 of an acre of vacant land, provided they follow the regulations for organic production methods. By early 2000, more than 190,000 people had requested and received such personal lots for agricultural use. In total, 322,000 Cubans are involved in urban agriculture. The Department of Urban Agriculture acted to support and promote urban agriculture by opening neighborhood agricultural extension services where producers can bring their products to receive technical assistance in diagnosing diseases and pests, soil analysis, etc.21 /

The transfer of agricultural technical knowledge from agronomists to food producers represents one side of the equation for the success of sustainable agriculture. The Cuban agricultural model recognizes that the artificial division between manual and mental labor limits the range of opportunities for food production systems. The objectives of a participatory democracy in agricultural decision making have been incorporated into the new production model, and this is possible given the new ownership patterns. For example, small cooperative farms receive assistance from the Town Councils, located in all 15 provinces of Cuba.22 / The Town Councils are made up of local food producers and technicians who work together to advise farmers in the area on the best practices that are suitable for that area. Trained agronomists work with farmers at specific sites to determine the most appropriate techniques.

Farmers' knowledge is also incorporated into agricultural conferences and academic proceedings. Fernando Macaya, the Director of the Cuban Association of Technicians for Agriculture and Forestry (ACTAF), spoke of a Provincial Meeting of Urban Farmers that he attended in November 2006. Of the 105 research papers presented, 53 were from food producers, 34 of technical researchers and 12 of academic professors - 61 of the total were women. The inclusion of experimental knowledge with experimental data leads to a rational application of science, equally accessible to all members of society. Las generaciones más jóvenes son invitadas a participar en clubes agrícolas en las escuelas, y los maestros estimulados a promover aulas ecológicas. El más reciente proyecto de ACTAF financió funciones de títeres en escuelas primarias sobre cómo sembrar y usar diversas hierbas medicinales.23/ Cerrar la división artificial entre el trabajo manual y mental es posible a través de nuevas relaciones laborales.

La brecha en el metabolismo social puede ser superada fusionando los límites campo-ciudad (cambiando la tenencia de la tierra), así como también interceptando los roles del trabajo mental y manual (cambiando la división del trabajo). Ambas acciones llevan a la transformación de la producción de alimentos. Pero hay otra característica relevante del metabolismo social de la agricultura -la distribución del producto de la cosecha. Un tema clave de la agricultura sostenible de Cuba es la diversificación de los canales de distribución de alimentos. En vez de dar el control de toda distribución de alimentos a una autoridad central, se introdujo flexibilidad en el proceso distributivo para satisfacer las diversas necesidades de la población. Para ayudar al pueblo a afrontar los persistentes problemas de disponibilidad de alimentos, se mantiene una tarjeta de racionamiento que garantiza a cada cubano una cantidad mínima de alimentos. Las dietas de niños, mujeres embarazadas y de ancianos se controla cuidadosamente, e intencionalmente se ofrecen comidas a bajos precios en las escuelas y lugares de trabajos, con comida gratis en los hospitales.

Los mercados del vecindario venden productos de organipónicos a precios bien por debajo de los de los mercados comunitarios más grandes, para proveer así de vegetales frescos a aquellos que no pueden pagar los precios más altos. A comienzos del 2000, había 505 puestos de verduras en las ciudades Cubanas, con precios de 50 a 70% inferiores a los de los mercados de los granjeros.24/ Estos mercados de granjeros particulares fueron abiertos en 1994 para proveer puntos de distribución a una producción de hortalizas más grande y de mayor diversidad. Los mercados de granjeros privados proveen a los productores otro medio de distribuir bienes una vez satisfechas las necesidades básicas de la población. Aunque los mercados privados operan conforme a los principios de oferta y demanda, hay controles gubernamentales para frenar los excesos y la colusión de precios.

Se presta atención a la identificación de grupos de bajos ingresos y se crean programas de asistencia social para proporcionarles acceso a los alimentos. Marcos Nieto, del Ministerio de Agricultura de Cuba, describe cómo “la planificación toma en cuenta los patrones geográficos de distribución poblacional, especialmente con relación a áreas de elevada densidad de población, o de limitado acceso, o de suelos pobres, etc.25/

Soberanía Agrícola en América Latina?

La brecha en el metabolismo social de la producción de alimentos bajo el capitalismo es agravado por la propiedad privada de la tierra, la estricta división entre trabajo mental y manual, y la injusta distribución del fruto del trabajo. El modelo agrícola Cubano sistemáticamente trasciende estas alienantes condiciones, reconectando al agricultor con la tierra a través de las cooperativas productoras, la toma de decisiones participativas, y la distribución diversificada. Puede esta visión de sostenibilidad ecológica y de equitatividad social extenderse mas allá de la Isla de Cuba?

Los agricultores Cubanos viajan a los países Latinoamericanos y del Caribe asistiendo a los granjeros en la instalación de tipos similares de sistemas de producción de alimentos. En realidad, las exportaciones de crecimiento más rápido de Cuba son corrientemente las de las ideas. Cuba recibe muchos agricultores y técnicos agrícolas visitantes desde las Américas y otros lugares. Actualmente, agrónomos Cubanos enseñan métodos de explotación agroecológicos a agricultores Haitianos, y asisten a Venezuela con su movimiento agrícola urbano de rápida expansión.

Y no son solamente los agricultores Cubanos los que están dispersando estas ideas. Movimientos campesinos en América Latina están retornando a prácticas agrarias tradicionales y demandando redistribución de tierras que permita producir alimentos de subsistencia. La Escuela Agroecológica de América Latina fue creada en Agosto del 2005 en Paraná, Brasil. Fundada por una asociación entre dos movimientos campesinos – el Movimiento de Campesinos sin Tierra (Movimiento dos Trabalhadores sem Terra, MST) y Vía Campesina – la escuela se interesa en recoger los principios agroecológicos de las comunidades rurales de América Latina. De acuerdo al coordinador del MST, Robert Baggio, la escuela construirá una nueva matriz basada en la agroecología. Esta nueva matriz, explica, será orientada hacia la producción de pequeña escala y al mercado interno, respetando el medio ambiente y contribuyendo a la creación de una agricultura soberana. (

En esta ampliación de la restauración del metabolismo, se vislumbra la visión de Marx de una futura sociedad de productores asociados. En el volumen 3 del Capital, Marx escribió “La libertad en esta área puede consistir solo en esto, que el hombre socializado, los productores asociados, gobiernen el metabolismo humano con la naturaleza de una manera racional, poniéndolo bajo el propio control colectivo en vez de estar dominado por ello como si fuera una fuerza ciega; lográndolo con el menor gasto de energía y en las condiciones más meritorias y apropiadas a su naturaleza humana”26/

Las barreras psicológicas que a menudo previenen que esta visión sea vista como posible se basan en un punto de vista miope- lo usual de la agricultura comercial – donde las vacas no pastorean en bosques y las lombrices no dan origen a los cultivos; donde los agricultores no hacen ciencia y los trabajadores no consumen sus cosechas; y donde la brecha metabólica de los sistemas ecológicos y sociales se intensifica con la constante y creciente búsqueda de la acumulación de las ganancias. La agricultura Cubana muestra que el potencial de la restauración metabólica es real, y puede ocurrir ahora. El avance de estas ideas por el resto de América Latina crea esperanzas para transformaciones futuras.

* Rebecca Clausen estudia sociología ambiental en la Universidad de Oregón. Viajó a Cuba como participante de la Delegación de Investigación en Agricultura Sostenible, auspiciada por Global Exchange. Este artículo fue publicado originalmente por el Monthly Review – An independent Socialist Magazine, Vol. 59 No. 1, May 2007.

El traductor , Manuel Romano, ofreció esta versión en español, dado el valioso aporte de su contenido y la sencillez del escrito original que lo hace accesible a casi todo tipo de lector.


1. Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 1 (New York: Vintage, 1976), 637–38.
2. Richard Levins, “The Unique Pathway of Cuban Development,” in Fernando Funes, et al., eds., Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance (Oakland, CA: Food First Books, 2002), 280.
3. Karl Marx. Grundrisse (New York: Vintage, 1973), 527.
4. See Peter Rosset, “Cuba: A Successful Case Study of Sustainable Agriculture,” in Fred Magdoff, John Bellamy Foster, and Frederick Buttel, eds., Hungry for Profit (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000); and Sinan Koont, “Food Security in Cuba,” Monthly Review 55, no. 8 (January 2004): 11–20.
5. Funes, et. al, eds., Sustainable Agriculture.
6. John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff, “Liebig, Marx, and the Depletion of Soil Fertility,” in Magdoff, Foster, and Buttel, eds., Hungry for Profit, 53.
7. Miguel Altieri, “The Principles and Strategies of Agroecology in Cuba,” in Funes, et al., eds., Sustainable Agriculture, xiii.
8. Eolia Treto, et. al., “Advances in Organic Soil Management,” in Funes, et al., eds., Sustainable Agriculture, 164–89.
9. Marta Monzote, Eulogia Munoz, and Fernance Funez-Monzote, “The Integration of Crop and Livestock,” in Funes, et al., eds., Sustainable Agriculture, 190–211.
10. Rafael Suarez Rivacoba and Rafael B. Morin, “Sugarcane and Sustainability in Cuba,” in Funes, et al., eds., Sustainable Agriculture, 255.
11. Mildrey Soca Perez, personal communication, December 1, 2006.
12. Monzote, et. al., “The Integration of Crop and Livestock,” 190.
13. al., “The Integration of Crop and Livestock,” 205.
14. al., “The Integration of Crop and Livestock,” 200.
15. John Bellamy Foster, Marx’s Ecology (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000), 158.
16. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Bank, and World Resources Institute, World Resources 2000–2001—People and Ecosystems: The Fraying Web of Life (UNDP, 2000).
17. Dale Allen Pfeiffer, Eating Fossil Fuels (Gabriola Island, British Columbia: New Society Publishers, 2006), 59.
18. Monzote, et al., “The Integration of Crop and Livestock,” 207.
19. 3 (New York: Vintage, 1981), 216.
20. Pfeiffer, Eating Fossil Fuels, 60.
21. Pfeiffer, Eating Fossil Fuels, 61.
22. Juan Leon, personal communication, November 27, 2006.
23. Fernando Macaya, personal communication, November 27, 2006.
24. Pfeiffer, Eating Fossil Fuels, 61.
25. Marcos Nieto and Ricardo Delgada, “Cuban Agriculture and Food Security,” in Funes, et al., eds., Sustainable Agriculture.
26. Marx, Capital, Vol. 3, 959.

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