Economic Reflections on the Communist Party Plenary

“The objectives of the Economy Plan for 2022 were not achieved,” Gil summarized. “The approved measures have not had the necessary impact.” (Twitter/Communist Party of Cuba)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elias Amor Bravo, Economist, 10 December 2022 — Cuban communists are privileged. Not only because they hold all the power in the nation, but also because they do what they want, without giving explanations, and then in their congresses they erase any responsibility. This is what happened in the recent Political Bureau of the Central Committee when reviewing “the implementation of the ideas, concepts and guidelines derived from the Eighth Congress” and the “economic, social, political and ideological measures to face the current situation in the country.” Any decent review of these issues should lead to an assumption of responsibilities and immediate decision-making to correct errors.

But no one should expect anything from this procedure. The Party  has made economic decisions like the Ordering Task,* which since January 1, 2021 has altered the lives of Cubans, throwing them into a situation of misery and poverty difficult to find in other countries. But no one has taken any responsibility for it. The so-called “accounting of the Political Bureau to the Central Committee” ends up becoming an exercise of “I wasn’t the one” that always identifies one person responsible for everything that happens to the unfortunate Antillian nation.

The Plenary of the Party is a good example of the correlation of people who lead the country with absolute power. Along with Díaz-Canel there are Esteban Lazo, Manuel Marrero, Salvador Valdés, Álvaro López Miera, representing the army, and also guests, such as Ramiro Valdés and José Ramón Machado Ventura, and the general, Joaquín Quinta Solá. A total of 108 of the 113 members of the Central Committee, and Granma says that the absences are justified. Of course.

The report of the Political Bureau, presented by Morales Ojeda, is a good example of how communists see reality and try to face it. It is as if they had a different historical time from that of society as a whole and, in a way, the problems are seen from above, as if they did not affect the single party that only understands that “we are in a scenario of progressive socioeconomic complexity, derived from the effects of the intensified blockade and the 243 measures of the Trump administration,” and to a lesser extent, “due to the erosion of the confrontation with COVID-19, the deviations from the Ordering Task and the global economic crisis, aggravated by the conflict in Ukraine.”

The Communists further explain that “to these negative elements are added the damage caused by the accidents at the Saratoga Hotel and the Matanzas Supertanker Base, the devastation of Hurricane Ian in the western provinces and the instability of the National Electricity System.”

And behind this scenario, according to the communists, appears “an aggravated situation of material deficiencies, which affects all the social and economic sectors of the country. Undersupply and inflation persist, with insufficient results in the measures adopted, which maintains a direct impact on the quality of life of the people.” No one, absolutely no one, is able to identify in this scenario of misery and poverty a self-reliance derived from the forced implementation of an economic model, the Marxist-Leninist, which is the origin of the improductivity and general inefficiency of the economy. We don’t even talk about this.

For communists, the only important thing is ideology. And instead of being interested in improving the economic conditions of the population, they warn that “the problems have been used opportunistically by the enemy, who increased the subversive and destabilizing plans, using a fierce media campaign as a spearhead, as part of a true fourth-generation or unconventional war.”

The discredit of the ruling political class in Cuba has to do with a growing detachment from society that considers that there is no measure, plan or initiative that goes well. But the communists claim that the fault lies with an alleged “external enemy” that has always been there, but that now, when the failure of the economic model is more evident, appears with more force. Don’t they realize that there’s something strange here?

The Political Bureau emphasizes above all “the intense work, extraordinary effort of the cadres, militants and, especially, of our people, trying to overcome every obstacle,” which is evidently a declaration of inefficiency, since despite that effort the goals are not achieved. But in addition, a declaration of ineffectiveness is made, because it is recognized that “not always have all the expected results been achieved,” and they announce that the solution is “unity”, the eternal communist unity that contemplates only a part of society, the communist one, as the only one able to solve problems. The rest of the options have no place in the political system. And along with unity, there  is talk of the “reserves,” which is never fully understood.

So in the face of a scenario like the current one, the communists insist that progress must be made in the improvement of the methods and styles of work of the Party; in particular, the exchanges with the population, in the workplaces, in the universities, with the militancy, of the municipalities, of the cadres, in the decisions adopted by the Political Bureau. That is, internal exchanges of communists with communists, which whitewashes any state of public opinion of the population and prevents knowing the reality. It’s like navigating a sea in fog and without a compass. Cuban communists have chosen this path for a long time, and so it goes, at least in terms of economic matters.

Alternatively, they are dedicated to controlling academia, science and research, projects in municipalities and activity in communities and society. They also want to project ideology towards health workers. There is not the slightest interest in producing more and doing it efficiently. This is the least of it.

For communists, it is a priority to “raise the responsibility and attitude of the militants, paying maximum attention to the state of militancy, and the growth and quality of new members.” They received a strong blow in the last municipal elections, with the lowest levels of participation in decades, and they fear what may happen in the general elections of 2023. The truth is that these trends will continue as long as the communists pull out all the stops and have the support of the leadership of the army to remain the only party in Cuba.

What happens is that without alternatives to the economic, social, political and ideological measures to those imposed for 63 years, there is no solution. It was seen with the Ordering Task, and they are on their way to maximum separation from the people. Young Cubans know that, much better than entering a Party that doesn’t know what to do, there is no comparison to leaving the country. That’s the reality.

Communists will remain focused on the fight against what they call crime, corruption, illegalities and social indisciplines, without wanting to recognize that these behaviors take place because of the existing economic model. And that the autonomy of the socialist state enterprise has become a mantra that is difficult to achieve, since no one believes in it anymore.

Only Guilarte de Nacimiento spoke in the communist conclave about inflation, the shortage of basic products and the increase in prices. A pity. The issue arose only at the end of the report and covertly, despite the fact that in October, year-on-year inflation was already almost 40%, the highest in the world. The loss of purchasing power of wages and pensions suffered by Cubans doesn’t allow comparison worldwide, and this is an inheritance of the communists, who demanded the implementation of the Ordering Task in their previous congress, despite all the warnings. The political bureau’s report did not take into account that the main threat to Cuban communists is what they have caused themselves: inflation. We will continue to talk about it.

*Translator’s note: The “Ordering Task” [Tarea ordenamiento] 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


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