14ymedio, Havana, 10 December 2022 — The leaders of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) took advantage of the closure, this Saturday, of the 5th Plenary of the Central Committee, to justify their actions, which have led the country to a generalized crisis with daily blackouts. “It was a hard and difficult year,” admitted the Minister of Economy, Alejandro Gil Fernández, without at any time recognizing the responsibility of the leaders in the collapse of the national economy.
Raúl Castro was not present at the Party plenary, but it was attended by Ramiro Valdés Menéndez, in spite of rumors circulating this week about his death, and a special guest, José Ramón Machado Ventura, a member of the “auxiliary structure” of the Central Committee.
The official press was discreet when it came to discussing the specific issues addressed by the PCC cadres. Chaired by a silent Díaz-Canel and closely monitored by the military members of the Central Committee, the leaders have, since Friday, expressed their concerns about the critical situation of the Island and the “deviations of the Ordering Task”* implemented since January 2021.
“The objectives of the Economy Plan for 2022 were not achieved,” Gil summarized. “The approved measures have not had the necessary impact.” The minister quickly amended the pessimism of his statement and attributed the Island’s failures to the “hardening of the blockade” [referring to the American embargo], the covid pandemic, the rise in prices in the world market and global inflation, “beyond our organizational problems.”
Although nothing is as serious, he lamented, as the lack of hard currency. Everything necessary to boost the development of the country is approved by the leaders, he said, but simply “we do not have the resources.”
He added that there was some “recovery” thanks to the export of nickel, tobacco, rum, honey and seafood, but pointed out that only 1.7 million tourists have arrived in the country, leaving a need for 800,000 more to meet official forecasts, and almost 3 million more to reach the figures of the years before the pandemic.
“We cannot compare ourselves to 2021,” Gil said, after lashing out at agricultural leaders, whose results were remarkably low. “The country has induced or imported inflation,” he said, because importation “forces” the Government to raise prices. “We can’t do anything about that inflation,” he warned.
About the extra cost, he said, “we are including an internal component of indiscipline, diversion, speculation, resale.” He again stoked the idea of encouraging the “hunting” of resellers by ordinary Cubans.
Other leaders underlined Alejandro Gil’s observations. The common factor of the interventions was to describe the Government’s measures as “bold and innovative” and denounce their implementation by local cadres and the general population.
During the first session of the plenary, held this Friday, they pointed out the “progressive socioeconomic complexity,” attributed not only to the ’blockade’ and the coronavirus pandemic, but also to the explosion of the Saratoga hotel, the fire at the Matanzas Supertanker Base and the passage of Hurricane Ian in the western part of the island, whose “devastation” destabilized the National Electric System.
“The effects of this scenario are reflected in an aggravated situation of material deficiencies that affects all 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,” admits the report published by the Party during the event.
The text also points out that the shortcomings have had “a harmful political and ideological impact on different sectors of our society,” and caused an increase in “subversive and destabilizing plans, using a fierce media campaign as a spearhead.”
They considered it urgent to “improve the Party’s work in universities” and to “take into account the states of opinion of the population.” Although they referred — according to the newspaper Granma — to the East-West Transfer project,** carried out in Mayarí, Holguín, they did not offer too many details about the state of the investment in the work, which Vice President Salvador Valdés Mesa described as “futuristic.”
During the plenary, the deaths of two recently deceased military members of the Central Committee were noted: Brigadier General José Alberto Yanes and Major General Luis Alberto López-Calleja, former son-in-law of Raúl Castro, president of the Armed Forces Business Administration Group and one of the most powerful men on the Island.
*The “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.
**The East-West Transfer project involves major construction of aqueduct networks to conserve water and increase agricultural production.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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