Central Committee Plenary, Beans, Clothes, and the Roof / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos

President Raul Castro at the inauguration of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba
President Raul Castro at the inauguration of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Havana, 23 January 2016 — A brief note on 15 January in the State-Party controlled newspaper Granma reports that the 13th Plenary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) was apparently held in secret – as it mentions no place nor date – and that at the session it was recognized that only 21% of the agreements of the 6th Party Congress, held in 2011, had been implemented while the rest continue to be in the process of implementation.

The press note disclosed that at the meeting there was an evaluation of the documents to be debated at the 7th PCC Congress, in particular “the conceptualization of the Cuban economic and social development model” and another document on the economic plan for 2030. This latter is a kind of three-part set of five-year-plans for 15 years. “In future editions Granma will provide more information on the issues evaluated in the 13th Plenary.”

Form and content suggest that, apparently, the leadership of the Party-Government is divorced from what is happening with the population, what its concerns and needs are, where and how ordinary people get along.

Nor do they appear to be connected to the serious problems of food and the prices of widely consumed products, nor the low wages, nor the serious issue of the dual currency system, nor the housing crisis, nor the transport failures, about all of which they were silent, not even trying to calm people’s worry. Nothing is said about the international situation and how it affects the country, nor about what some 10,000 Cubans stranded in Central America are going through.

Everything, as if none of this existed, is treated very sparingly, as if in this country there were not a collection of emergency situations.

Many wonder why these issues are not resolved with so much money entering the country, with so much left after the State pays their salaries, and with so much collected through taxes.

In Cuba there are two budgets: the official budget that is disclosed in the National Assembly and the “petty cash” budget, which in any case must be rather large and is controlled by the party leadership. So, with that concentration of decisions and wealth, this country cannot seem to work things out.

I have known that even senior government officials confess they do not know why the demands of the population are not being met, and that and analysis of the problems and solutions are offered by intellectuals, professionals of social sciences in the nuclei of the party. I have heard about the concerns of officers of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) and the Ministry of Interior (MININT) because no effective measures are taken to solve the serious problems identified. The discontent is general. Many of the highest ranked leaders have seen their own children leave the country.

And when you think about all this is when you realize that, given that these leaders have not reached these heights through the direct, free and democratic popular votes of anyone, they are apparently “lost in the clouds,” although they know what is happening down below on the ground and they do nothing to resolve it.

As “good Marxists” they know that human beings must, first of all, have food, clothes, shoes and a roof over their heads, before they can think about politics. Meanwhile, people are totally frustrated, worried about finding beans, saving money to buy clothes and shoes, and worrying about whether their roof is going to fall in, not thinking about how to resolve all this with the new political and economic approaches brought by new governments. In short, they are not going to get involved in politics. Hence, the de-politicization of the population. Meanwhile, of the internet we only have expensive, uncomfortable and dangerous wifi.

Faced with so much disaster and such uncertainty, we now come to talk about a 15-year economic plan in three five-year parts, at the end of which period 25% of the current population will already be dead and buried.

So it goes: without haste, with many pauses*, without details, without clear perspectives and as if there were little uncertainty, with “information” like this, laconic, unspecific, undefined… adding more uncertainty for a people who continue to worry about beans, clothes and the roof.

*Translator’s note: A play on words of what has become a “meme” from a 2014 speech by Raul Castro to the National Assembly, where he declared that the process of updating Cuba’s economic model would “advance without haste, but without pauses.”