Friday, August 19, 2016

Oblivion Awaits The New Party Guidelines

Oblivion Awaits The New Party Guidelines / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 18 August 2016 — The tabloid with
the updates of the Sixth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party
Guidelines, is distributed lately without fanfare. The few copies on
sale in the newsstands and the majority of people's lack of interest in
official documents, suggest that very soon they will be forgotten.
However, to not analyze or question them would be another form of meekly
accepting their principles.

From the opposition sector voices are heard describing these new party
directives as "tricks and traps from a caste that maintains itself in
power." The foreign press, for its part, has been quick to draw
conclusions after a sidelong glance at them, but few have plunged into
othe274 points plagued with grandiloquent propositions, commitments that
seem to be dreams, and a syntax that is difficult to understand.

A question as basic as whether the stage between 2016 and 2021 will be
characterized by an economy that leans toward the market or toward
centralized planning can only be answered after determining what is
missing and what is included, and weighing the nuances of the new
wording that has been introduced in each concept.

After reconstructing the loose pieces, it is clear that the State will
maintain majority control over production and services. The only
positive innovation introduced in this edition is the appearance of
"second degree cooperatives," the characteristics of which are not
explained, but which seem like the boldest step the Party is willing to

Some presences are easier to detect looking at the 16 pages of the
brochure, such as the inclusion of the word "wealth" in the third point
in the chapter on the economy. Not content with having determined at the
6th Congress to prohibit "the concentration of ownership" for non-state
forms of production, the new version from the 7th Congress adds that
neither will the concentration of wealth be accepted.

In a country where no one has ever made a formal declaration of their
possessions there is no way to calculate what each person has, either in
goods or in cash. The absence of regulatory mechanisms with regards to
the possession of wealth, especially among natural persons, makes the
control of assets a real mission impossible.

Such an alarming addition is nothing more than a potential threat, and
even a formula of commitment to satisfy those most concerned about the
growing inequality which has worsened in the country over the last two
decades. Perhaps it is a crumb to please the hardliners within the
Party, a wink and a nod to the old guard.

The disappearance of some guidelines, the rewording of others and the
inclusion of new ones, makes it difficult to research which of the
guidelines are in the 21% the authorities claim to have met, and which
are in the 79% that are "in the implementation phase." As if reshuffling
the dominoes makes the readers unable to detect which tiles are missing.

As the artist Arturo Cuenca said one say, "the takes can be more
important than the puts," especially when the points that are missing or
reduced in some of their essential aspects, don't appear on the list of
things accomplished, but in the sub-paragraphs of the problems, of those
objectives that have been set aside."

The first guideline to disappear is number 4 which mentions the idea
that structural, functional, organizational and economic changes will be
made "informing workers and listening to their opinions."

Another striking and highly provocative example is the evaporation of an
objective reflected in Guideline 57 of the chapter on fiscal policy,
which in 2011 proposed to establish "higher taxes for higher incomes, to
contribute, also in this way, to mitigating inequalities among citizens."

Has the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) met this objective with the taxes
imposed by the Office of Tax Administration (ONAT) or has it just
abandoned tempering inequalities through the treasury?

The text is not without its absurdities, like the commitment outline in
the change on economic integration of "giving priority to the
participation of the Bolivarian Alliance for the People's of Our America
(ALBA)," a regional organization that has lost prominence since the
death of Hugo Chavez and seems doomed to an early demise.

A new chapter entitled Demographic Dynamics is reduced to the issue of
the aging of the population and efforts to stimulate fertility, but
omits the most serious problem facing the country today: the
uncontrolled emigration that robs it of its human capital.

In other parts of the document, the inclusion of a concept reveals the
pressures of certain sectors, such as the demand to "comply with medical
ethics" in the chapter regarding healthcare, or the unexpected
appearance in the section on culture of a point for the implementation
of "the policy regarding the transformation of Cuban cinema." A clear
response to the demands of the numerous artists who joined together in
the so-called G-20 group that is demanding a new Film Law.

When we contrast the wording of the 6th Congress guidelines with those
now updated, details such as "attention to cruise ships" jump out. Along
with more subtle references like changing the proposal to delete the
ration book by "the orderly and gradual elimination of products in the
ration book," a way of making the subsidized market languish, instead of
eradicating it all of a sudden.

The warning regarding "progressively decreasing the levels of subsidies"
runs through a good part of the document like a thin strand of steel,
like that emphasized in point 58 focused on achieving the principle of
"subsiding people and not products."

The update of the Party Guidelines is far from meeting the expectations
of those who want to see in its pages a clear path to the dismantling of
the centralized economy and the freeing up of the productive forces in
Cuba. But also to distance itself from the paternalistic tone that once
characterized the five-year plans on the island.

One step forward and two steps back? Or simply a Party that seems to be
running in place

Source: Oblivion Awaits The New Party Guidelines / 14ymedio, Reinaldo
Escobar – Translating Cuba -
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