By Charles McKelvey
May 26, 2023
The Communist Party of Cuba is a vanguard political party in a political system of people’s democracy. As such, its role is to educate the people, guiding the people in the construction of socialism. The Party in Cuba possesses the moral authority to guide and educate, but it does not have the legal and constitutional authority to decide. The Constitution grants to the National Assembly of People’s Power, the deputies of which are nominated by the delegates of the people and elected directly by the people, the authority to decide policies and measures, to enact legislation, and to elect and recall the highest members of the executive branch of the government.
I have written in previous commentaries concerning the Cuban political process of people’s democracy, different from and in important respects superior to representative democracy (see “Cuba wins the 2023 elections,” March 28, 2023). Whereas the structures of representative democracy initially took form in the context of bourgeois revolutions against the monarchies in the late eighteenth century in North America and Western Europe, the structures of people’s democracy were developed in the context of Third World people’s revolutions against a neocolonial order in the twentieth century. Today, Korea, Vietnam, China, Laos, and Cuba have developed different versions of people’s democracies.
Ricardo Cabrisis, Cuban Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of International Commerce and Foreign Investment, has observed that Cuba is passing through one of the most difficult moments in the sixty-two years since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, as consequence of the economic and ideological war being waged against it by U.S. imperialism. Similarly, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, declared that Cuba is in an extraordinary complex scenario that is provoking the deterioration of the infrastructure, shortages of supplies, and lack of goods and services, which also is generating a social deterioration.
The Party leadership is calling the Party members and the people to creative resistance, looking for innovative solutions to the economic problems, thus breaking the economic siege of the United States against Cuba. The nation must advance with speed and dynamism, eradicating inertia, bureaucratism, snags, and complacency.
Rendering of Accounts
On May 23, 2023, the VI Plenary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party was held. A Report of the Rendering of Accounts on the work of the Political Bureau was presented to the Plenary by Roberto Morales Ojeda, a member of the Political Bureau who is also the Secretary of Organization of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba.
The Report notes that the Plenary occurs in the context of increasing socioeconomic complexity, caused by the effects of the intensification of the blockade with 243 new measures of the Trump administration, which includes the arbitrary inclusion of Cuba in the spurious list of countries that sponsor terrorism. There is insufficient understanding among the people, the report observes, of the impact of the economic, commercial, and financial blockade on the economy of the nation.
The Report affirms the political victory of the Revolution in the recent national elections, inasmuch as they ratified the unity and the confidence of the Cuban people in the Cuban democratic and socialist system. It also recognizes the implementation of improvements in the conditions national electric energy system, enabling it to overcome instability, although some disruptions of service persist that require continuous attention. The Report considers valuable the recent visit of a Party delegation to Laos, Vietnam, and China, for the purpose of interchanges with the communist parties of said nations. And the Report reaffirms the foreign policy of the government, based in the principles of respect for the sovereignty of all nations and the development of mutually beneficial commercial relations among nations.
However, the Report acknowledges a host of problems. A shortage of supplies of gasoline and diesel has generated a fuel crisis, creating serious difficulties in both public and private transportation. In the countryside, housing and transportation have deteriorated, and the service infrastructure is insufficient. A rural exodus has occurred, leading to an insufficient workforce in rural areas. The 2023 sugarcane harvest was insufficient, as a result of undisciplined work, an insufficient number of technically qualified workers, and shortages of fuel, lubricants, and equipment.The Report observes that emigration, essentially of youth and professionals, constitutes a challenge for the present and the future.
Emigration aggravates a situation of deficit of medicines, and it contributes to the reduction of availability of medical equipment tied to high technology and of ambulances. The Report recommends improvement of ideological political work in the formation of professionals.The Report refers to an investigation of the problem of persons not connected to either study or work. Fifty percent are adolescents and youth, with the highest incidence occurring in Santiago de Cuba, Havana, Granma, Villa Clara, and Sancti Spiritus.
The Report notes that the socialist state companies are far from the full attainment of their potential. In his address to the National Assembly on May 25, Alejandro Gil Fernández, Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Planning, noted that 84% of the state-managed companies are running in the black, with income greater than expenses. Of those in the red, some are being maintained by the state because of their value to the economy and society. However, the goal is to gradually attain a situation in which all state companies will operate with income greater than costs.
The Report noted that inflation and the deprecation of Cuban currency have reduced the acquisitive power of the people, giving rise to an increase in illegalities, criminal behavior, corruption, and social indiscipline. The report notes that passive attitudes before the phenomenon are prevalent, and there is lack of administrative control. There is poor attention to the imposition of fines, and weak vigilance by the directing councils of centers of production. Night watch and vigilance by workers and neighborhood organizations are nearly nonexistent. The report calls for attention to the battle against corruption, crime, illegalities, and indiscipline.
In reporting to the Extraordinary Session of the National Assembly of People’s Power on May 25, Minister of Economy Gil noted that the average year-over year inflation of prices is currently 45.4%, with some goods, especially those provided by the state, having no price increase; with the price of other goods increasing at a higher level. Gil explained the three factors that have caused inflation. First, the increase in prices of imported goods, due to inflation in the world economy. Secondly, a decline in Cuban production, particularly agricultural production, including such goods as milk, corn, potatoes, pork, rice, and eggs. Production has declined because of shortages in supplies and fuel, as well as due to undisciplined work. Thirdly, speculation in the retail market, with some intermediaries demanding a price five times what they paid, taking advantage of shortages. Such abusive speculation, Gil observed, contributes nothing of value to the economy. The government is attempting to clamp down on this form of corruption, he noted.
Gil concluded his report to the National Assembly with the observation that as of April of this year, the Cuban economy is on track to comply with the objectives defined by the 2023 economic plan. He expressed confidence that the Cuban people are capable of overcoming obstacles, despite the U.S. blockade.
Alejandro Gil, it should be noted, regularly provides comprehensive and scientifically informed analyses of the Cuban economy, putting forth clear explanations. He has repeatedly stated that the solution to the economic difficulties of the country is an increase in production, especially agricultural production. He regularly outlines steps being taken by the government to increase production, which include cooperative arrangements with strategic partners and allied nations. He is a key member of the Cuban leadership team, headed President Miguel Díaz-Canel, that through its continuous display of competence inspires confidence and hope.
At the May 25 Extraordinary Session of the National Assembly, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez spoke from the floor of the Assembly, not in his capacity as foreign minister but as an elected deputy of the assembly. He declared that the fundamental cause of the economic problems of the nation is, by far and without any doubt, the U.S. blockade against Cuba. In his extensive commentary, he reviewed the history of the blockade from 1959 to the present. He noted that the blockade has evolved with increasing intensity, such that the blockade in its early years did not have the impact that it has today, especially in a world context in which Cuba had a cooperative relation with the Soviet Union and the East European socialist bloc. He pointed out that as a result of the measures imposed by the Trump administration in 2019, companies and banks in third countries are sanctioned by the USA for commercial and financial transactions with Cuba, often imposed by the arbitrary inclusion of Cuba in a spurious list of countries that supposedly sponsor terrorism.
The Report concludes with a call for attention to the priorities of the people: housing, speculative and abusive increase of prices, the long lines for the purchase of goods, and the instability of the electric system. The Report calls upon greater involvement of the Party cells in all the processes. It calls for improvement in the schools of the party, tying ideology to knowledge, and for improvement in the theoretical formation of the Party cells.
The Implementation of the Party’s Guidelines
A report on the compliance with the Guidelines of the Social and Economic Policy of the Party and the Revolution for the period 2021 to 2026 was presented to the Plenary by Joel Queipo Ruiz, member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Party and Head of its Productive Economic Department. He noted that the report was developed on the basis of ample consultation with the 48,121 Party cells in the country. He observed that the effective implementation of the Guidelines does not correspond with what is needed to guarantee the social and economic development of the country. He maintained that Party cells in centers of production have to become true units of combat that impulse effective compliance with the Guidelines.
Alejandro Gil, Minister of Economy and Planning, noted that of the 201 guidelines, 13 are without advancement in implementation, and 67 have low advancement, such that approximately 40% of the guidelines had had little or no implementation. On the other hand, 110 guidelines have had medium advancement (54.7%) and 11 have high advancement (5.4%). He further noted that the thirteen guidelines without advancement in implementation are primarily connected to agriculture and food production. Gil observed that “nothing falls to us from heaven, and there is no magic. We have in our hands a group of measures that have not given results, but they have a great potential.”
A Code of Ethics for the Party Cells
The Plenary approved the Code of Ethics of the Cells of the Revolution. The Code was formulated on the basis of the Theses and Resolutions of the First Congress of the Party; the definition of revolution expressed by Fidel in 2001; and reflections on the theme expressed by Raúl and Che. The Code expresses the characteristics that a leader ought to possess: the honor and the duty of defending the country; anti-imperialist spirit; the permanent disposition to explain comportment and to submit oneself to public scrutiny; permanent interaction with the citizenry; and to be proactive in the solution of difficulties and problems, confronting them with the available resources. The Code elaborates fifteen values that a good leader ought to have: patriotism, anti-imperialism, fidelity, honesty, honor, discipline, altruism, humanism, solidarity, professionalism, collaboration, integrity, responsibility, transparency, and austerity.
Overcoming the blockade without it being lifted
Miguel Díaz-Canel, President of Cuba and First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, declared at the closing of the Plenary that the principal challenge confronting the Party today is to search for solutions to the economic challenges that the country confronts. He called for rigorous implementation of the measures and actions proposed at the Plenary. He stressed that it is imperative to increase production, especially the recuperation of agricultural production, and to eliminate the network of intermediaries in the commercialization of merchandise. He called for confronting the present challenges in a spirit of victory, effort, talent, determination, and creativity. He declared that it is not only a matter of resisting, but of resisting and creating at the same time.
The Party, Díaz-Canel declared, must stimulate the comprehension and participation of the people and the lifting of hope. He noted that in his most recent trip in the provinces of the country, he found that there had been advances in comparison with five months earlier. We found a capacity to manage production at the local level, a will and persistence despite adverse circumstances, he declared. We found persons that have been disposed to overcome adversity, and they have attained it, taking advantage of existing potentialities. These persons have been blockaded, just like everyone in Cuba, yet they were able to advance, even though they were in the same conditions as everyone else. They are the ones who are challenging the blockade, Díaz-Canel asserted. They are lifting the blockade through creative resistance. They are not complacent or immobile; they confront with intelligence each of the problems that they confront.
The President calls for such a spirit of resistance not only from some, but from all. We are calling all, he declared, to overcome the blockade without it being lifted, overcoming it at the local level, taking advantage of existing potentialities in each of the provinces and the municipalities of the country.
Convocation of the Second Conference of the Party
The Central Committee called for the Second National Conference of the Communist Party of Cuba, to be held in October. The conference is called to critically and objectively analyze compliance with the agreements of the Eighth Congress of the Party, held in April 2021. And it will analyze the transformations of the Social and Economic Model of Socialist Development, approved by the National Assembly of People´s Power in 2012; and the compliance with the Guidelines of the Social and Economic Policy of the Party and the Revolution, emitted by the Party and approved by the National Assembly of People’s Power in 2012.