On April 16th, the VII Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) will begin, probably the last one to be led by the great historical figures who started and participated in the revolutionary process, victorious in 1959. And most of them are, in fact, over eighty (Fidel will turn 90 this year). Raúl Castro has already announced he will leave the post of president in two years, although it is not yet clear whether he will retire from that or from the position of first secretary of the PCC.
For this reason, there are great expectations that the leaders and delegates of the party (single) will also address the issue of generational change, as well as those of necessary economic and social reforms and policies (how will the next president be elected?).
These expectations got higher after the visit of President Barack Obama and the favorable impact his speech, focused on “looking to the future” and establishing “a new relationship” with the United States not “conditioned” by the past, have had on the Cuban people.
For this reason, voices have been raised against the six theses that will be presented to Congress. These documents are criticized for the way they were prepared and discussed, since they were entrusted to a thousand delegates and were not reviewed by the base.
Some days ago, Francisco Rodríguez Cruz, journalist of the union’s newspaper Trabajadores, took over the representation of these voices in an “open letter” written on his blog (paquitoeldecuba) and directed to President Raúl in which he criticized “the lack of” public “discussion” of the ” central documents” of the VII Congress, even saying that these documents are “secret until now,” kept not only from grassroots activists but also from the rest of the citizens.
Rodríguez called this situation “a step backward” in comparison to previous conferences and asked to postpone the sessions until the end of July in order to allow “the discussion of the program documents with the party’s base and the rest of the Cuban population. In short, also on behalf of other people, “militants and those outside the party”, the journalist believes that, given the importance of the economic, social and political choices to be made in this historic phase opened by the process of normalization of relations with the United States, only “an extended broad and participatory debate” would give “greater social consensus” to the decisions of the next Congress.
Responding to the “concerns” of the militants, the PC newspaper Granma says that the Congress documents are the result of a collective process which was attended by dozens of officials, researchers and professors, and they were then subjected to “profound scrutiny” of a thousand delegates “representing both the PC militancy and the general population.”
The basic argument of the newspaper is that three documents refer to the ‘implementation’, the ‘modernization’ and the “examination” of the economic results of the 2011-2015 five-year period of the Outlines of economic and social policy, namely the reforms launched in 2011 by Raúl’s government and approved by both the VI Congress and the Conference of the Communist Party.
In essence, therefore, according to Granma’s arguments, the next Congress will mainly check the degree of implementation and effectiveness and “update” the economic and social decisions adopted earlier. While the political discussion will consist of what is termed the “conceptualization of the Cuban economic model of socialist development”, with the goal of achieving a full-blown “prosperous and sustainable” socialism.
The concern that has been expressed is that the issues planned by the party leaders may become a kind of “straitjacket” and they do not address the problems felt by the base, especially the request to define a “ hoja de ruta “, a road map, for generational change and production reforms (development of private and cooperative work) requested mostly by young people, this is shared by other analysts and intellectuals in and out of the PCC, especially lay people who refer to the Catholic Church.
For example, this is what emerged from the discussion in the Forum for Young Entrepreneurs organized two days ago by the Loyola Center – linked to the church of Jesuit priests right in downtown Havana (visited by Pope Francis during his visit to the island last year): a summary of “a preliminary review of the reforms” was outlined and the difficulties faced by Cuban entrepreneurs were discussed.
The long shadow of Obama’s visit was clear in the speeches, especially those presented by young people who have started or plan to open a private negocio.
In order to counter this influence and “revive the base,” the government and the CCP have multiplied their actions (which essentially repeated the arguments of Fidel’s article dedicated to “Brother Obama”) with the goal to minimize the impact of the US president’s visit.
“The party summarizes the dreams of all revolutionaries,” stated the front page of Granma, quoting Fidel’s intervention at the first CCP Congress (1975).
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