Of Extremes and Omissions / Miguel Iturria Savón

While Hugo Chavez reported to the Venezuelan Parliament his intention to establish an armed forces of the extreme left, that would make government decisions and prevent the triumph of right in the elections of 2012, his Cuban mentors promoted some liberal measures to survive without the support that put him over the top when he assumed absolute power decades ago.

Chavez neither learns from the mistakes of his ideological patriarchs, nor loosens Castro’s hand on critical issues. The South American sorcerer’s apprentice is not subtle, he enters the ring with the sword of Bolivar as a mask and the precepts of socialism to expropriate and to exclude his opponents and then indoctrinate the masses through education and media.

We Cubans know the rest of the movie, but do not know how to shake off the nightmare, whose last chapter has as its script the “discussion” of The Social and Economic Guidelines of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party to be held in April 2011; nothing new, for certain, from the zigzagging discussions preceding these congresses from the distant year of 1975.

The congresses serves to keep power in the same hands, the “popular discussions” to legitimize the Party and its chosen ones. The novelty of the next conclave is that the captains need to shake off the ballast that risks unbalancing the ship and its arrival at the port of socialism, far into the mists of the future.

While Chavez seeks the freeway to socialism on the far left, his counterpart of the Caribbean opened some valves to get credit, reduce international pressure, prevent the growth of internal opposition and solve minor problems, such as inertia, the “improper gratuities,” fictitious employees, inefficiency of production, labor and social indiscipline, widespread theft and the “chick syndrome,” which points to the decentralization and corporate and individual autonomy, tempered by absolutism and bureaucratic regulations.

Accustomed to “discuss” from within the socialist model, Cubans talk about the Guidelines in their workplaces, they know that it is “more of the same” because once approved it will justify the mass dismissal letters and the end of the termination subsidies. The document ignores the role played by private property, whose reform is essential; there is no signal toward a concession regarding rights and freedoms abolished in the sixties, from free speech, assembly and association to the right to own property and independent unions.

The attempt to preserve an exhausted model makes a mockery of the Cuban nation. Half a century of socialism shows that planning and state ownership does not solve the country’s problems. It is not about updating the disaster, we need new players and an end to recycling the same people in power to finish off the face of intimidation. If Chavez repeats that the staging is his problem, ours is to leave the theater.


December 9 2010