Iván García, 24 June 2016 — “Twenty minutes. Neither more nor less,” says Emilio, a civil engineer. This was the time he took at work to “analyze” a document replete with jargon, approved by the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, celebrated this past April in Havana.
“Imagine: The boss had authorized us to carry out a ’motivation’ for Father’s Day. We took up a collection and bought three bottles of rum and two cartons of beer. But at noon, a guy from the union showed up for a meeting with ’the agents of the municipality,’ to discuss the economic model and the future of Cuba,” comments the engineer.
With this mechanical way of functioning that the much-extolled participative democracy trumpeted by the olive-green Regime has, two Party functionaries from the municipality of Cerro, together with the secretary of the union from the business, quickly read the introduction of the new Castro evangelism. “Then it was put to a vote,” says Emilio.
As usual, all the workers of the business voted unanimously in favor of everything in the tome, without knowing or analyzing its contents. Then the party continued, listening to Reggaeton at full blast and drinking alcohol like pirates.
On June 14, in the editorial, “A debate for the future,” published that day in the newspaper, Granma, the organ of the Communist Party of Cuba, the process of consultation for the “construction of a prosperous and sustainable socialism” was kick-started. The debate will extend up to September 20.
It deals with — and here the jargon starts — the “Conceptualization of the Cuban Economic and Social Model of Socialist Development” and the “National Plan of Economic and Social Development up to 2030: Proposal of the nation’s vision, ideas and strategic sectors.”
In the editorial it’s argued that the texts, of “transcendental importance (…) are not the fruit of improvisation but are the result of a collective elaboration, under the direction of the Party, in which university professors, academics, researchers from the economic and social sciences and officials of the Government and the Party participated.” And it underscores that “they [the texts] were debated in meetings of the Political Bureau, in two plenary sessions of the Central Committee, submitted for consult to all the deputies of the National Assembly of People Power, to several thousand more people, and then exhaustively examined in the Congress.”
According to Granma, after the Communist conference “approves in principle both documents,” it will “order the Central Committee to carry out a consultation process, with the clearly defined proposal to enrich and perfect them.” And it stresses that “they are comprehensive documents of great complexity that will mark the course of the Cuban revolutionary process, the Party and society,” looking to the future.
The main Cuban State medium clarifies that “680,000 copies of a 32-page tabloid were printed,” destined for “the organizations of base and the collectives where they will be debated.” Another 200,000 copies were sold to the population and also are available on the Party’s digital sites, in the newspaper, Granma, and the portal, Cubadebate, so they can be “studied in a society that is more and more computerized.”
As if that weren’t enough, the first Vice President of the Council of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel, announced a “novel application created by professors and students of the faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Computation, belonging to the Marta Abreu Central University of Las Villas.” The application was qualified as an “instrument of extraordinary value,” since it would facilitate discussions about the documents in question.
In its editorial of June 14, Granma predicts that “these steps will contribute to making the discussions fully democratic, rich in content, concrete in ideas and projections.” It explains why the Seventh Congress “won’t be able to finish the elaboration of the National Plan of Development up to 2030, owing to its great technical complexity,” an objective that “it should attain next year.”
And it reminds us that “as Congress ordered, this version will be submitted to the Central Committee for its definitive approval and sent for analysis to the National Assembly of People Power, the legislative body that will make it legal.”
The Communist Party of Cuba, through its official organ, “invites the active participation of millions of Cubans, militants or not, convened for this consultation, essential for consolidating consensus about the future of Cuba.”
Before the beginning of what it defines as “ample national discussion,” the editorial already predicts the intervention of “enemies, skeptics, doubters, those who echo the campaigns of detractors from the Exterior against the Party and the Revolution, and those who dream of returning to a society subject to Yankee desires and pretensions.”
I don’t think any larger amount of delusions can be condensed into a newspaper article. Although it supposes that the future of Cuba might interest Cubans, such verbal alienation frightens even its followers.
In Sueño de pais [Dream of a Country], the journalist, Giselle Morales, in the newspaper, Escambray, from Sancti Spiritus, writes: “You don’t have to give it so many twists: the tabloid that is being submitted to popular consultation this June 15 and up to September 20, with two texts coming from the Seventh Party Congress, is a dense document. Dense and difficult to understand for a citizen who isn’t seasoned in abstractions and strategies.”
Probably, for their mental health, a wide segment of compatriots aren’t reading the State press, or they turn down the sound of the national news about “science fiction politics” when its presenter, Rafael Serrano, starts to spout nonsense.
Believe me. I tried to converse with friends and neighbors to get their opinions about the Party document that designed the future of the nation. But no one wanted to give an opinion. Or they didn’t read the tabloid; or it simply didn’t interest them to comment about what they consider an absurdity.
I ran into Ramona, retired, in a tobacco shop in the slum of la Víbora buying several copies. “No, man, no. I’m not going to read this crap. I use it to wrap garbage or as toilet paper.”
Ricardo, a driver of a collective taxi from La Palma to the Parque Fraternidad, commiserates with me: “Brother, it’s really hard to be a journalist in Cuba. People don’t want to give an opinion because they know that all this is a joke. We’ve had almost 60 years of the same devil. Write something else,” he counsels me.
Among those who are reading and analyzing the new official Bible are dissidents, alternative journalists and political analysts of diverse tendencies. “It’s still too soon to give an opinion,” an independent press colleague told me.
I would like to be objective. But to pick apart, point by point, the incongruencies and the colossal absurdity that Raúl Castro’s government is selling us as a future promise requires time and patience.
“The document doesn’t even have validity as a bad joke,” affirms Ricardo, the taxi driver. For that reason, a majority of Cubans on the street aren’t bothering to read it.
Martí Noticias, June 22, 2016
Translated by Regina Anavy