A Battle For Democratization In Cuba / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos

Closure of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba. (Youtube)
Closure of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba. (Youtube)

14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Havana, 1 April 2016 – Cuban Communist Party (PCC) member Francisco Rodriguez Cruz, a journalist for the newspaper Trabajadores (Workers) and an activist against homophobia and for sexual rights, wrote an open letter to the first secretary of the Party Central Committee, Raul Castro, asking that the 7th Party Congress be postponed to give the organization time to allow the documents that will be approved there to be discussed ahead of time by the party base and all citizens.

This call from “Paquito de Cuba,” as he is know in the media, reflects the feelings of broad sectors of the PCC militancy and of the Cuban population, concerned that this Congress is going to approve specific documents that have a great deal to do with the immediate future of all Cubans. I am referring to the “conceptualization of the Cuban socioeconomic model” and the “prospective development plan for the year 2030.”

Since Raul Castro has risen to the top leadership of the Party and the Government, processes have been developed for consulting the party training bases, the unions, the Union of Young Communists (UJC) and the People’s Power, with regards to the general problems of the country and especially in relation to the Guidelines of the Sixth Congress of the PCC.

It has been a concern of many Party members and ordinary citizens that the proposals don’t take their concerns sufficiently into account, and that other suggestions appear in a limited and biased way, tied to the old concepts of state and bureaucratic control.

Specifically, it happened with self-employment, cooperatives, independent entrepreneurial self-management independent of state control of the workers, and with the need to democratize the political system with freedom of expression and association and free elections, and strengthening the independence, abilities and autonomies of the local organs of People’s Power. The political and economic essence of a democratic society with broad support from the bases of the PCC, workers and citizens, according to what it has been possible to confirm in the opinions of thousands of Cubans expressed in the media, meetings, official conferences and not only among family and friends.

Recently, the Party leadership acknowledged that a portion of the Guidelines approved at the last Party Congress had not yet been implemented and had played only a small part.

During the five years since the Sixth Congress, hundreds of thousands of critiques have appeared in the Party press and in blogs and leftist alternative pages from the moderate opposition, about the inability, lack of will and even the obstacles evidenced in the leadership of the PCC and the government to implement their own agreements.

Raul Castro invited the Party bases to offer their opinions; the leadership of the Party and the government organized vertical consultations in Santiago to learn what Havanans thought and vice versa, and later the higher bodies reached agreements that bore no resemblance to what people from below had said. And then come the laws and decrees to implement them laden with bureaucratic constraints. Where is democracy?

This “system of participation” has demonstrated its inefficiency, people are dissatisfied with what has been done, including with the agreements of the PCC, and now, on top of that, the thousand or so representatives (a minuscule proportion of the population) who will meet in the Seventh Party Congress, will approve what economic, political and social model that will rule the destiny of 11 million Cubans on the island and another three million of us outside the island, and that will be the development plan for the next 15 years.

All Cubans of good will, Party members or not, inside or outside, should unite their voices and support the request from “Paquito de Cuba” for the postponement of the Seventh Congress and the democratic discussion of its documents so that they are subject to open, horizontal and free debate of the entire Party membership and all the Cuban people.

The streets of Cuba are not free filled with these slogans, but indeed all the official and non-official websites from Granma, Trabajadores, Juventud Rebelde, Cubadebate, and the rest of the social networks.

It is not a battle within the Party, it is the Cuban people’s battle for democratization, and on its outcome will depend, to a great extent, the future of the homeland of all Cubans.