Raul Castro’s Hourglass is Running Out / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Cuban General-President Raul Castro accompanied by Miguel Díaz Canel, vice-president, on the first of May. (Archive)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 26 December 2016 — A popular joke inquires about the color of a train that arrives late at the station. The answer is a play on words: de morado.* Raul Castro has dressed in just that tone in relation to his obligations for the end of the year. The delay in keeping certain commitments threatens the image of punctuality and pragmatism that the General President has wanted to present.

The plenary session of the Communist Party Central Committee planned for this December still doesn’t have a date. The partisan meeting should approve the expected Conceptualization of the Economic and Social Model, as well as the 2030 Economic Development Plan, but there are only five days remaining for it to fulfill its promise.

A telephone call to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) clarifies few doubts. The secretary for Olga Lidia Tapia Iglesias, a member of the Secretariat responsible for the Department of Education, Science and Sport, confirmed to 14ymedio that “they have not set a date” for the pending meeting.

Both documents were debated by the PCC membership and the Young Communist Union (UJC), as well as the leadership of the mass organizations and trade unions. The official press emphasized that currently there is massive agreement with the texts as presented, although it reported several proposals to modify or add to them.

Point 104 of the Conceptualization document raised a stir; the point reaffirms an idea raised in the PC Guidelines. The cold water for local entrepreneurs focuses on the statement that “concentration of property and wealth in natural or non-state legal persons is not permitted.” A proposal that must be accepted or rejected this December.

If the plenary session is not held, the seriousness that Raul Castro has wanted to imprint on his official acts would suffer a serious blow. He would also be obliged to publically justify the informality. Hurricane Matthew, the surprising election of Donald Trump as president of the United States and the death of Fidel Castro could be among the official excuses.

The number of days remaining in December is the same as the number of fingers on one hand. At least two of them will be used for the upcoming session of the National Assembly of People’s Power. Given the traditional confusion of roles between the Government, the Parliament and the Party, perhaps in the sessions with the deputies the date of the party conclave will be reported.

But if it does not happen before the end of the year, Raul Castro will need to show a very convincing explanation.

*Translator’s note: “Morado” means purple, and “de morado” means delayed.