Cuba’s Deputy Prime Minister Ramiro Valdés Visits Sancti Spíritus to ‘Put His Foot Down’ Against Illegalities

With the economy on the rocks and the usual voluntarism, nothing will stop the province from celebrating July 26 in style.

The “grandparents” of the municipality’s nursing home are, in many cases, the same age or younger than Valdés who is 92 / Sancti Spíritus Provincial Health Directorate

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, June 20, 2024 — A delegation of ministers and senior officials arrived in Sancti Spíritus this Wednesday to carry out a government visit that soon turned into a hunt for “illegal MSMEs” The star of the day was Ramiro Valdés, who handed out scoldings and invited people to “put their boots down” against “the reseller, the opportunist, the middleman and the supposedly ’clandestine’ store.”

The 92-year-old commander and deputy prime minister, who was in the municipality of Cabaiguán, reported that, in the construction sector alone – throughout the country – there are more than 8,000 MSMEs that declared a principal “object” but carry out “secondary activities,” as a real occupation. Furthermore, they have “altered templates, they sell at very high prices, they do not take cost sheets into account, and a high number of workers are not unionized,” he alleged.

Valdés, whom the official press describes as “entertaining, very interactive and pedagogical,” said that he was aware that there are economic “difficulties,” but that the Revolution has never thought “about what it has lacked,” but rather has “gone all in with what is has.” The leader himself, however, admitted that the bad data from the province has set off alarm bells in Havana. However, in the serious economic situation of the country, Sancti Spíritus achieved several results that earned it the venue of the official events for the 26th of July celebrations.

The best Acopio plan for the harvest and distribution of food in the province was that of Cabaiguán, he exemplified, which only fulfilled it by 87%

The best Acopio* plan for the harvest and distribution of good in the province was that of Cabaiguán, he exemplified, which only fulfilled it by 87%. And he does not even trust that number, he clarified, since “many times what is outlined or reported does not coincide with what is actually achieved, much less with what each place demands.”

His recipe for prosperity, which he already proposed in Santiago de Cuba, is to resurrect the microbrigades to promote construction – and with it the other economic aspects – an old “teaching of Fidel.” With this, however, there is a new problem and it is the lack of materials.

Deputy Prime Minister Jorge Luis Tapia Fonseca also put MSMEs in the crosshairs of his inspection. The leader believes that they must “talk” with the “illegal economic actors,” as he calls both those who work without a license and those who carry out activities for which they do not have permission.

“Why do the forklift drivers have more food than the State? They arrive first because we are not checking them. We have to know how much food the 42 cooperatives in the territory buy. We are not against the forklift drivers, but we want the State to sell more and cheaper food,” he argued. Tapia said that, as far as MSMEs are concerned, the Government works with “permanent dissatisfaction” with the current results.

“Why do the forklift drivers have more food than the State? They arrive first because we are not checking them”

Meanwhile, Valdés also traveled to the Sergio Soto refinery to “expedite solutions,” but the press was tight-lipped about the content of his visit to the place. The plant, apparently, has a “situation” with the extraction of asphalt liquid that “impacts its results,” about which they did not provide details.

Valdés asked the leaders for explanations for the “high prices” in all areas, which surprised him – reported the State newspaper Granma – and he also wanted to know the state of energy consumption. He cast a “particularly critical look” at housing officials, due to the situation of theft of materials and corruption. The projects, they let him know, “continue at very low execution rates and the figures for properties included in the plans, in many cases, are very low.”

Valdés shrugged his shoulders at the report: “If there are no materials,” he stated, “there can’t be housing either.” His visit ended at the Cabaiguán nursing home. The “grandparents” in the photos are, in many cases, of equal or younger age than the 92-year-old Valdés, but their physical deterioration cannot be compared with that of the soldier.

For the government visit, the usual express repairs were made. The most significant was that of a short section of the National Highway – towards Cabaiguán, where Valdés would pass – which “has been crying out for years” for a fix. The repair is “far from what the territory would like,” admits the official press, but at least it was carried out. “I wish there were conditions” for more, requested Granma, which reported the use of 290 tons of asphalt to cover the road, “despite the hot sun and if the electrical service allows it.”

The delegation of ministers, among whom were the heads of Culture, Public Health and Tourism, toured other municipalities and areas of the provincial capital. There was not much to congratulate the local officials for, judging by the minute by minute diary of the journey published by Escambray. There are difficulties with the water supply, tensions with producers, problems with food and a lot of crime.

With the economy on the rocks and the usual voluntarism, nothing will prevent Sancti Spíritus from celebrating the most important anniversary for the regime in style, with carnivals and political events. The people of Sancti Spiritus, however, believe that there is nothing to applaud.

“Even the ’integrated’ people are saying the same thing: with how bad everything is, how are they going to give the province the leading role on July 26,” Mirta, a housewife from the provincial capital, tells 14ymedio. Online the people of Sancti Spiritus have not stopped commenting on their discontent about the congratulations that the state entities offer for the “honor.” “Hunger and misery,” they point out, is the only thing the province excels at.

*Translator’s note: ACOPIO is Cuba’s State Procurement and Distribution Agency


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