The Guidelines Project: Simple Enunciations / Dimas Castellano

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba demonstrates that the paralysis recedes. its place is taken by a new scenario wherein the subject that leads the changes is the same as the one that has held power over half a century. The Cuban government is both past and present, thought that tries to hide it, and bears the responsibility of good and bad happened in that half century, so they can not cope with the current problems as they could when they took power in 1959. This feature is vital to understand the reason for the limited, winding and contradictory character of the current reforms.

Without achieving the purposes outlined in the previous Congress and violating the statutes requiring its celebration every five years, the next event will take place in a context in which the current model — non-viable by its very nature — is completely exhausted, as evidenced by the Project Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy to be discussed at the party conclave that is to come up in April 2011.

The project contains elements that we compare to what exist up until now which could be positive. Among other things it recognizes the need for decentralization of the highly centralized model; plans to give greater autonomy to enterprises over the control of material and financial resources they manage; base the control of business management mainly in economic and financial mechanisms; provides independence for approval of their objections; suspends the operation of the Councils of State and Municipal Administration in their management; raises banking services, including lending to the sector of non-state economy; and recommends flexible formulas for the exchange, purchase, sale and rental of housing, among other things. At the same time, the document is full of contradictions, absences and limitations that prevent satisfactory results, as follows:

1 – An alternation in power, and a sign of political health, is required for development, because social change always require new actors with new approaches. This fact is crucial to any analysis of the present and future of Cuba, as the changes Cuban society demands imply the negation of what exists now, which means denying oneself, and for that you need a doses so high that they exceed political will. This is compounded if the interests join together, and it is evident that no circulation of political power constitutes a braking mechanism.

2 – The recognition of the existence of “low efficiency, decapitalization of the productive base and infrastructure, and aging and stagnation in population growth”; and so that the acceptance of the most recent experiments — such as the replacement of catering and transport workers by other modalities and the leasing out of barber shops, hairdressers and taxis to the employees of these activities — have been insufficient, is contradicted by insisting that economic policy in the new stage will correspond to the principle that “only socialism can overcome the difficulties and preserve the conquests of the Revolution,” and that the socialist planning system will continue to be the main route to the direction of the national economy and that “planning will prevail and not the market.”

If the failures and the current crisis occurred within the current socialist model, to consider that only it can overcome the difficulties is the same as announcing negative results in advance. The current setbacks oblige them to recognize that the model was poorly implemented or that it did not work. The first case involves the responsibility of those who applied it, the second, the need for its replacement. In both we see the glaring errors of the previous government, which is the same as the government now.

3 – The refusal to recognize the proper role of private property is one of the greatest obstacles to economic efficiency. For many years in Cuba they have tried to solve that problem by all means other than the property reform. In that effort we have come to have the most technology, tractors, irrigation and fertilizer per hectare than other countries, not to mention appeals to conscience and ideological campaigns. However, the productivity obtained was lower. Why? Because recognition of the social function of property is attributable to all forms, including private, and that recognition involves the right of Cubans to be owners and entrepreneurs. However, the Guidelines state that they will not allow the concentration of ownership in legal entities or individuals. This conduct is a straitjacket that keeps the economy subject to ideology, and therefore doomed to inefficiency.

4 – The decision to “update the model” and other decisions affecting all Cubans have been taken by the elite of power without participation, since the lack of freedoms and rights prevents any positive result. Thus, freedom of expression — requisite for debate — free access to the Internet, freedom of assembly, association and movement, are an essential condition of modern development, for without them, in the information age, any positive results are unthinkable. In our case also it means an unjustifiable waste to confer a high education on people and then to deny them their inalienable rights. Anyway, Cubans are not treated as an end but as a means of preserving an inefficient and worn out model, where man is an entity subordinate to the state, which is contrary to human dignity. Thus, the issue of ignoring human rights in any attempt to improve the situation in Cuba, is the main deficiency of the Draft Guidelines.

5 – The absence of the comprehensive nature of the changes in the face of a structural crisis that affects all spheres of society and each of its components is another limitation of the Draft Guidelines. The problems that once were limited to the economy, now cover the spiritual realm. The time when partial changes could be introduced in either area are exhausted and comprehensive changes are also running low, which shows a total ignorance of the role of time in social processes.

6 – The Guidelines pose: “Seek alternative funding sources to stop the process of decapitalization of the industry and productive infrastructure of the country.” However, this possibility is denied to Cubans whose relatives abroad constitute a not insignificant source of funding. Instead it proposed, in an exclusive manner, “to continue to encourage the participation of foreign capital.” So it pretends to keep the socialist model with the help of capitalist financing, that is we need capitalism to save “socialism” without the participation of Cubans.

These six factors, among others, convert the proposal into simple sentences: exploit the farm land that is still idle and recuperate the export capacity in this area; restore and enhance export markets for seafood (lobster and shrimp), achieve a rational exploitation of fisheries resources, and increase production levels and efficiency; increase gradually the production of sugar and cane derivatives; make the delivery of land for farmers conducive to productive results resembling those currently in the cooperative and farming sector.

The main value of the Guidelines is the recognition of the need for change and its limitations and contradictions, in canceling out the proposed objectives, generate new contradictions which will require the deepening of reforms, in a context unfavorable to later reversing them.

November 26 2010