During the first day of our march we passed a collective farm called "Niña Bonita". The idea was to establish large collective farms throughout Cuba, owned by the State, where the farmers would be provided with the necessary tools such as tractors and other mechanized farm machinery. This is intelligent and economical. A simple example will show why: Instead of ten small tractors at $50,000 each for ten farms, just one big tractor at $100,000 will suffice for the collective farm. Advantage: US$400,000. Moreover, as the Cuban State can buy these bigger tractors in large numbers, a lower price, say $80,000, can be negotiated for each. Thus the advantage is even bigger.
And as these large farms can be highly automized and mechanized at a fraction of the cost of doing the same for a large number of smaller farms, agricultural production will be higher if collectivized, while requiring fewer man-hours. Moreover, the well coordinated cooperative effort of farmers working for large collective farms should be more efficient than if each of them was working on his own small farm. All these measures and savings combined make it possible for the collective farmers to work fewer hours and earn more than they would, if working on their own. The collectivization of the farming industry, therefore, makes perfect sense. What could possibly go wrong?
It is absurd to believe that the defense of a country can be entrusted to those who do not own a part of it.
The essential thing that does and did go wrong at "Niña Bonita" and similar collective farms, is the fact that people work differently, if they own what they work for and if their efforts produce direct financial results for themselves and their families. The collective farmers work for the Cuban State and receive a monthly wage. They own nothing themselves. Even the cows grazing the field are property of the Cuban State. The State has taken over all responsibility for managing and running all Cuba's collective farms, reducing the individual farmers to the status of mere wage slaves. It makes no difference at all to them if they exert themselves or not. The wage will be the same whether the farm produces or not. The State has to provide and pay anyway.
But "Niña Bonita" could easily be turned into an E.S.O.P. company. Property of the complete farm could be passed to "Niña Bonita E.S.O.P. S.A.", shareholders of which would be all farmers working there.
Provided the farm is then well managed, this would change everything. Owners work differently than wage slaves. That's the natural order of things.