14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 8 April 2016 — In a country where, under the fifth article of the Constitution, the Communist Party is “the highest leading force of society and the State” members of the Central Committee of that organization should be known by all citizens and, of course, access to the highest authority should not be covered by any veil of mystery.
However, only a few remember the last time there was a formal election of the membership to this group, on 10 October 1997, just before the closing of the 5th Party Congress. At that conclave 150 members were elected. In the slightly more than 18 years since then, there have been 29 deaths and 36 separations, some of these latter as a result of disciplinary sanctions and others because the militant ceased to hold, for different reasons, the administrative or political post that warranted their membership on the Central Committee. Currently, there are only 42 members of that group of 150 remaining.
But the numbers still do not add up. The data presented here have been amassed by Julio Aleaga Pesant, who has spent years organizing a magnificent collection of names under the ambitious title: Who’s Who in Cuban Society? The analyst has had the patience to fight against the government’s secrecy and find all references in the national and provincial press which mention a person’s name with his or her position.
Clearly, Aleaga inherits the errors and imprecisions of those official reports. Not all sanctions appear in the press and many die without an obituary. This is why there are 43 doubtful cases without any notices, at least in the last five years. They involve “compañeros” who ascended to the highest partisan level because it was necessary to have the chief of some sugarcane cutting brigade there, or the head of a municipal bureau, or a member of an agricultural contingent. As the media never focuses on their names, it is probable that in some of the cases we don’t know how to respond with exactitude regarding whether or not they are members of the Party Central Committee, if they are still alive, and if they remain in the country.
In these almost 18 years, 51 other Communists have joined the PCC Central Committe, but in that time there has not been a formal process of elections as God commands, i.e. as established in the statutes. Thus names like Miguel Barnet, president of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba; Gladys Bejerano, who heads the Comptroller of the Republic; Joaquin Bernal, newly-appointed Minister of Culture; Guillermo Garcia, a commander of the Revolution who was elected at the First Central Committee in 1965, but was not included in the elections of the 5th Congress.
None of them was proposed from the base; they did not come up from the ranks.
New wine has been filling old wineskins without these nominations involving the Party base, such that now a third of the members of the highest decision-making body has been handpicked from above.
The Seventh Party Congress has before it the task of renewing the Central Committee. Among the other things they will have to discuss the controversial issue of age, as it is not healthy for any organization to have in its membership individuals who do not have the physical ability to spend at least 10 hours a day resolving problems.