Total Alienation / Miriam Celaya

Actors in the children’s theater company The Beehive
Actors in the children’s theater company The Beehive

Presided over by Cuba’s General-President, on Friday, March 15, 2013 there was an extended meeting of the Council of Ministers, which, in addition to resembling any other, at the same time typifies both the inefficiency of the entire government apparatus and the impossibility of renewing the so-called “Cuban model.”

The witches’ sabbath of official mediocrity was exposed from the very beginning of the conclave of the highest leadership of the country in which, in addition to ministers, are the members of the Council of State, the Politburo, and the Secretariat of the Cuban Communist Party Central Committee, who were invited by Castro II to witness the end of theatrical work — And Yet It Moves — staged by the children’s company, The Beehive. According to the words of the General, “It is not just a play, it is part of our political and cultural preparation.”

Undoubtedly, before the reality check of his management and the capabilities of his governing team, Castro II has deemed it opportune that they drink from the sources he believes they’re intellectually prepared for: children’s theater works. Ergo, from now on it will be Carlos Alberto Cremata and his child actors who are the inspiration and intellectual authors of the contributions deriving from the Government directives.

One after another, each head of the different ministries summarized the insufficient progress and overwhelming deficiencies of their respective portfolios, half of which would provoke the resignation of any minister in a minimally decent country.

For his part, the General-President, insisted throughout the meeting on what he considers his key for the success of the Cuban economy: the systematization of discipline and demands. “This is not the task of one day,” he repeated, which is absolutely true, given that he himself, since he assumed control of the country in 2006 and was officially ratified as head of the government in 2008 without our being able to appreciate up to now even a hint, not just of recovery, but of at least a slowdown in the general crisis that affects the present and jeopardizes the future of the entire nation. Following his logic, it could be interpreted that the Cuban economy fails to develop for two reasons: either discipline and demands are not sufficient factors or, more likely, nobody pays any attention to the guidance of the President.

The Minister of Industries, Salvador Pardo Cruz, promised a new national strategy for the production of packaging, which currently meets only 36% of domestic demand and he listed the main problems of the industry: high technological obsolescence, little use of the productive capacity, inefficient investment processes, the low availability of molds, dies and matrices, insufficient recycling of packaging and low use of recycled raw materials. Overcoming this reality is “a strategic issue for the country,” according to the General-President, because “historically this has cost the economy sums in the millions.”

Economy Minister dissertation focused around “how to lower priority programs in the country the impact of reduced investment plan” as euphemistically called in Cuba what is known elsewhere as “funding cuts” that many protests of citizens around the world have caused. For others, the owner of the field never said what would be the strategy to achieve the challenge.

Trains stoned and garbage on the tracks

A most interesting issue was the fabulous “process of recovery and development of the railway system” in which, according to the General-President “has made progress” but “much indiscipline persists for lack of demands.” The indiscipline cited by him are a real contribution to the historiography of economic analysis, where subjective trivialities are mixed with factors derived from corruption applied as a means of subsitstance: “the garbage that is poured onto the tracks, the diversion of revenues, the theft of fuel theft and the stoning of trains by kids.” No comment needed.

The Transport Minister also taxed his brain in a report which states that the plan for rail freight transportation was met at 104%, while that for passengers was achieved at 97%; the shortfall there was “basically due to not having the imported the cars anticipated in the plan”; that is, the “planning” was conceived based on the cars that should exist for such purposes but that do not actually exist.

There was also commendable progress in the repair plan for railways (352.6 kilometers which was 104% of the proposed plan). This figure, however, is contradicted by the report of last December before the National Assembly, when it reported only 40 kilometers of the trackway was repaired over all of 2012.

With regards to the the difficulties with the extraction and return of containers and payment per delay, it was reported that the costs have dropped from over 37 million in 2005 to just over one million in 2012, but “the goal is that the country does not pay a single centavo for delays.” The causes attributed to the delays speak for themselves: “Massive arrival of containers, failure to plan daily unloadings, difficulties with the means of lifting,” plus the warehouses lacking conditions for efficient work, work limited to day shifts (not working at night or on Sundays or holidays), organizational weaknesses, planning, forecasting, and operational cooperation between all agencies involved in the chain of port-transport-internal economy.

I could go on other topics that were part of the agenda of the enlarged meeting of the Council of Ministers, but what is outlined here is a sufficient sample. To the members of The Beehive theater company, Raul Castro made clear what is meant by efficiency of government administration: “If the only result of all that we did was the smiles of our children, we would be satisfied.”

Last Friday we were able to verify what is a government alienated from society, in a country where most of the population remains alienated from the problems of the nation. One has to conclude that probably the only absolute truth of the last 54 years is that Cuba has to change whatever needs to be changed, starting with the Government. And it appears that we should do it with discipline and exigency.

Translated from DiariodeCuba

25 March 2013