Are Any Changes Coming in the Regime’s Economic Area?

Raúl Castro and Miguel Díaz-Canel during the Eighth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba. (Revolution Studies)

14ymedio biggerElías Amor Bravo, Economist. 16 July 2022 — Another character from the Party, who has decided to enter directly into economic affairs, is Joel Queipo Ruiz, identified in the State newspaper Granma as a member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Party and head of its Economic-Productive Department, a name that sounds like a soft drink.

In Cuba, as you know, nothing is accidental, and if someone enters the arena, they don’t do so by their own decision, but because they have previously been authorized by the hierarchy. This Queipo, according to Granma, visited the province of Santiago de Cuba on June 14, along with more than half a dozen other communist leaders, to check the continuity of the agreements of the Eighth Party Congress. And he even directed his steps to the Antonio Maceo thermoelectric plant, in Santiago de Cuba, at a time when the blackouts have become the main source of concern and criticism of the Regime by the population.

There he became interested in the process of its generating units, and, in particular, “dialogued in the workshops with those who, to keep them running, are true examples of the creative resistance currently called for in the face of the intensification of the blockade.” Granma’s report seems to be tailor-made by someone “promotionable.”

What can I say? Minister Gil [Cuban Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Alejandro Gil Fernández] must be thinking the same thing as I am, right now. Maybe Cuban president Díaz-Canel is looking for a replacement and some fresh air to buy time. It seems evident that Gil’s team is being identified as the culprit of the current economic situation; its days may be numbered, and this greater attention to Queipo may be related to a spare part in sight. The truth is that you never know what could be better, or worse.

Queipo pointed to the need to achieve the famous “productive chains” of Díaz-Canel, and in the information collected in Granma, he repeated this mantra on several occasions, both with reference to the role that corresponds to “the Party in the current complex scenario,” and in allusion to the conclusions of the Second Economic-Productive Conference Cuba 2022, which he attended as a representative authority.

The fact that a political leader is a prime mover doesn’t sit well. Even more so when the team that runs the Cuban economy is convinced that the responsibility for the current disaster is not theirs, and that all they can do is fold their sails and wait for favorable winds to blow again.

But that position is suicidal, even in the Castro regime, where 62 years don’t seem like a long period of time.  So changes in the economic direction of the country may be closer than ever, as happened once to Murillo when the “ordering task*” guidelines were a real disaster for the economy.

Queipo has entered strongly into this scenario of the economy’s terminal crisis and has declared with a solemn tone “that it is necessary to unify key areas of political-economic assurance to the new economic actors and territorial organisms of the State, and the elevation of the economic culture of the population.” These populist and Party messages mean nothing.

However, he has placed himself opposite Gil, who only talks continually about “fulfilling the plan.” Queipo’s agenda is broader, but it doesn’t go to the core of the problem, which is the economic and social model, and it entertains itself by betting on the “chains” that are considered necessary to increase production and reduce inflation. This shows the same naive interpretation of the fight against price increases, in absolute accord with Gil and his team.

In a populist attempt to reach new entrepreneurs, Queipo proposed the mapping of the Cuban Business Guide to all territorial levels, “so that economic actors from the same locality are recognized and linked,” and asked that the Third Conference multiply its meetings at the local level. By the way, the Business Guide is the result of the joint work of the National Association of Economists and Accountants of Cuba, the Yellow Pages of the Telecommunications Enterprise of Cuba S.A. and the private company SME Dofleini S.R.L.

At the same closing ceremony, Malmierca said the same thing as always “that the socialist state enterprise is at the center of the effort to reactivate the national economy and will continue to strengthen with the linking of the country’s new economic actors.” Not even he believes it. Speculation goes through everything. He knows that he has been amortized for a long time and is wasting chips in a game in which he has little to win.

Reading between the lines of the information in the state press, it seems evident that Díaz Canel is not going through the best political moment of his career and that, once again, he is looking for support in the empty shell that is the Communist Party. When will they understand that the only support they can have is that of the Cuban people in their call for free, democratic and multi-party elections, and then go home?

*Translator’s note: Tarea ordenamiento = the [so-called] ‘Ordering Task’ is a collection of measures that include eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and a broad range of other measures targeted to different elements of the Cuban economy. 

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.