Cuba's parliament meets to approve Communist Party roadmap
JUN 1, 2017 - 16:00
By Marc Frank and Sarah Marsh
HAVANA (Reuters) - With less than a year until Raul Castro steps down as
president, Cuba's parliament met on Thursday to vote on documents
confirming the Communist Party as the country's guiding force and
banning the concentration of wealth.
The national assembly was summoned for an extraordinary session to
approve documents reaffirming the one-party political system and state
domination of the socialist economy, even as the Caribbean island allows
some private business and foreign investment. Assembly deputies
regularly approve such documents unanimously after some discussion.
The meeting was called as U.S. President Donald Trump considers
rolling back the U.S.-Cuban detente launched under his predecessor,
Barack Obama, due to what he charges is a lack of democracy and respect
for human rights in Cuba.
While it was planned before Trump's election last November, the
gathering will send a clear message that Cuba will not make the
political and economic concessions that Trump has demanded.
The documents to be discussed resulted from last year's Communist
Party Congress and include a theoretical justification for ongoing
efforts to loosen up the Soviet-style command economy and a "national
plan for economic and social development until 2030."
The Communist Party is the "leading" and "only" political
organisation and "the superior leading force of society and the state,"
the theory document begins. It cites as guiding lights Cuban
independence leader Jose Marti; communists Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin;
and Fidel Castro, the late president who led Cuba's 1959 revolution.
The documents make some reference to the incipient private sector,
such as family firms, but also stress the means of production and most
farm land as "property of the whole people" through the state.
Cuba's economy is currently staving off a crisis as a tourism boom that
followed the 2014 deal between Castro and Obama to improve relations
fails to offset declining shipments of bartered fuel from key socialist
ally Venezuela and a drop in exports.
Critics say the government should bolster growth by carrying out
more reforms, while hardliners who distrust market economics and any
change that would lessen their hold on power balk at that.
Raul Castro, who took over the presidency in 2008 from his ailing
brother Fidel Castro, has vowed to step down as president next February
and as head of the Communist Party by 2021.
First Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel, 57, is seen as the heir
Castro, 85, said last year that those who fought in the revolution
and remain in Party and government positions would all leave office over
a five-year period.
However, Cuban authorities have been at pains to highlight at every
opportunity that the revolution will not end with the deaths of the
"historic generation" or the handover of power.
(Editing by Frances Kerry)
Source: Cuba's parliament meets to approve Communist Party roadmap - SWI