The Party…Up for Debate? / Luis Felipe Rojas

The following post was written by Luis Felipe Rojas for “Diario de Cuba” and published on Wednesday, February 15th:

During the past few days, fragments of the recently concluded sessions of the Communist Party of Cuba National Conference have been televised. And the first thing that jumps out at one’s eyes is the lack of confrontation. The Cuban communists pay no attention to their best mirror: in each corner of any town of the island it constantly turns on the most substantial of discussions. About baseball or the quality of bread. Of the neglect of public functionaries or of the frequency with which eggs or beans are distributed in rations. Still lacking any glints of democracy, a debate – which the deputies of the National Assembly wish they had- surges anywhere.

During the discussion about a possible constitutional reformulation of Article 42, one could see how Mariela Castro Espin (daughter of Raul Castro) was the subject of timid pleas. Her intention was that they add “reasons of gender indentification” to the mentioned article which lists that no one should be discriminated based on race, gender, nationality, or religion.

The responses from Alarcon and Eusebio Leal refused the necessity to cite these terms in the constitution. They cited Marti and spoke of unity. The quick intervention of Esteban Lazo as moderator cut the debate, the television also cut the running time of the event, and as a product of digital magic, we could see when “everyone” raised their hands to unanimously approve something.

There is a contradiction which asks for special attention. Commission No. 1, according to an article published by Granma newspaper on Wednesday, February 1st, debated the internal functioning of the communist organization. The intention was to finish with the ruling and meddling of the Party instructors when it comes to productive decisions, while they stated that they would “strengthen the role and faculties of the Party Committees in the work place”. Any Cuban knows very well about the arrogance of the municipal Party functionaries, and not to mention the visiting officials from provincial committees. The sole announcement of their visits puts any municipality on guard: checking work plans, painting sidewalks and once gain reviving gastronomy.

A televised fragment in which the Ministry of Culture and the President of the Cuban Radio and Television Institute bragged about the bad taste provided signals of the stagnant thought within the structures of power.

Minister Prieto alluded to the careerists which sustained themselves by making jokes and parodies, and informed about the juicy gains and the corruption in the provincial centers of music through the evaluation and hiring of artists and artistic projects of low quality and of the worst aesthetic taste. The dichotomy between what artistic talent offers and what people want continues to be the source of discord which has not been resolved in a commission of Stalinists. The contemporary television dynamic goes one way while the indoctrination which tries to spread throughout Cuba through soap operas and TV series for adolescents goes the other way.

It is something which is completely evil. The imposition of stagnant communist ideas as the sole source of political citizen participation does not, after all, result in the ever concealed unity of “all” Cubans.

Debates behind closed doors to later show them edited and served like recipes are the buttons of proof of the single Party. Regardless, what was not debated or televised must have been more interesting than the gabbles published during these days. The fact that Raul Castro initiated the closing discourse with his position about the possibilities of a multi-party system made it barely visible, according to some, that the matter was at least in the debate of the work commissions.

The Communist Party of Cuba is a rigid and exclusive option which attempts to perpetuate a system condemned to failure.

Translated by: Raul G.

15 February 2012