Raúl Castro Proposes Change from Within Cuba’s Socialist System

The following is from Upside Down World:

(IPS) – Accompanied unexpectedly by Fidel Castro, his brother Raúl brought the sixth congress of Cuba’s Communist Party (PCC) to a close Tuesday with a call to “change everything that should be changed,” but without abandoning the socialist path taken on Apr. 16, 1961.

“The congress is over; to work now,” was President Raúl Castro’s closing remark at the end of the four-day congress, in which some 1,000 delegates met in Havana and elected him first secretary of the PCC.

“I assume my last task with the firm conviction and commitment … to defend, preserve and continue perfecting socialism, and never allow the return of the capitalist regime,” he said in his speech.

Castro, who is also chairman of the Council of State, thus made it clear that he would lead what he called a necessary and ongoing process of renewal of leadership, in both the party and the government.

In what he described as an example of “true democracy,” the sixth congress approved the Draft Guidelines for Economic and Social Policy after a months-long process in which a reported 8.9 million Cubans, of a total population of 11.2 million, discussed the document in their places of work and study, leading to modifications and additions.

After the more than three million grassroots meetings held to debate the document, only 94 of the original 291 policy guidelines remained unmodified. The final draft included 313 guidelines.

With respect to the new composition of the PCC Political Bureau and Central Committee, whose members were elected at the congress, there are significant differences between the two.

Changes can be seen in the Central Committee, considered a “first step” towards what Castro described as the gradual process of renewal and generational change in political and government posts.

The election of the 115 members of the Central Committee made progress towards greater representativity in terms of gender and race. The proportion of women on the Committee went from 13 percent to nearly 42 percent, and the percentage of blacks and people of mixed-race heritage grew from 10 to 31 percent.

But the renewal barely affected the Political Bureau. The majority of its 15 new members come from the ranks of long-time leaders of the revolution, including the new second secretary, Vice President José Ramón Machado. And there is only one woman member.

Although Castro did not give the average age, he said a large number of the new members of the Central Committee are young university graduates or skilled workers who have been active in politics and grassroots organising for years.

In addition, 10-year term limits were proposed for senior government positions, to be sent for approval at the next PCC National Conference, scheduled for Jan. 28, 2012.

The phrase “change everything that should be changed,” a revolutionary slogan in Cuba, should also be “the spirit” of the National Conference, which should objectively and critically evaluate the work of the party and determine the transformations necessary for maintaining its leadership in society, Castro said.

“Fidel is Fidel and he does not need any formal post to occupy, forever, an outstanding position in history,” said Raúl, who praised the “first example” given by Fidel when he asked not to be included on the list of candidates for the Central Committee.

The televised images of the closing ceremony of the PCC congress showed the delegates’ surprise at Fidel’s appearance. And equally unexpectedly, he did not take the microphone during Tuesday’s two-hour session.

But his opinions were present, as expressed in several of the columns he has regularly written since he retired from public life due to illness in 2006. “The smaller a country is and the more difficult its circumstances, the greater its obligation to avoid mistakes,” he wrote on Monday.

In Fidel Castro’s last public appearance, in February, he met with intellectuals attending the Havana International Book Fair.

His previous appearance before that was on Nov. 17, when he met with several dozen students, university officials and leaders of the youth movement, and referred to a 2005 speech he had given at the University of Havana in which he warned that the revolution could destroy itself as a result of its own errors.

Along the same lines, Raúl Castro said the main enemy on the route to the modernisation of Cuba’s economic and social policies, a process officially launched by the congress, would be “our own shortcomings.”

“It’s a question of being alert, with our feet and ears to the ground” to overcome obstacles and errors, and of never forgetting that in a task of such importance for the future of the nation, there is no room for “hasty actions and improvisations,” he added.

Convinced that Cuba is among the small number of countries that have the conditions for transforming its economic model and pulling out of crisis without social traumas, the president also warned that the “updating” of the system would not happen overnight and would involve a great deal of work.

To achieve success, he said, the first thing will be to “overcome a mentality of inertia” in the PCC. He also urged the party to “abandon an inflexibility founded in dogma and empty slogans.”

6 responses to “Raúl Castro Proposes Change from Within Cuba’s Socialist System

  1. Below is rough translation of MLM analysis of Cuban reforms from Chinese MLM website Utopia criticizing coverage on state run CCTV which portrayed the reforms as following Chinese lead.

    April 16, 2011 to April 19, the Cuban Communist Party held the Sixth National Congress Reform is the theme of this Congress, has focused its CCTV coverage. Encouraged by the Chinese elite, claimed that “Cuba and China has finally embarked on the same path.” Many people are very pessimistic about the left and that Cuba finished.

    In fact, the CCTV coverage of the Cuban reform serious distortion. Cuba engage in reform and the reform of the Chinese elite is completely different, Cuba is a socialist reform of the reform:

    – Extensive coverage of Cuba CCTV Sixth National Congress of the Communist Party adopted the “economic and social draft policy,” but deliberately avoided “the draft economic and social policy” theme – not a market economy. Documents at the outset, stressed that “only socialism can overcome all difficulties and to protect the revolutionary achievements” in the process of updating the entire economy, “plan rather than the market will always dominate.” “The market is a mad, wild animals, laws of the market resulted in the most selfish human beings, the most ruthless regime, incompatible with the socialist market economy, Cuba will not engage in market economy.”

    – CCTV declared that “the draft economic and social policy” includes: “the future of millions of state sector job cuts, cut subsidies to encourage more private economy (actually individual economy), to give more autonomy to state-owned enterprises, and encourage more foreign such as investment and cuts in state expenditures. “deliberately avoided the true meaning of these measures. Only “cuts on the millions of state sector jobs” for example, Cuba’s “downsizing” and layoffs as we understand it and laid-off is fundamentally different. This is no easy job cuts, not to cut down the staff to the society, but rather to be transferred to other departments. In fact, the Cuban Government announced cuts in the decision, but also announced the placement of these people plan. These people will be farming enterprises, renovation and construction companies, material recycling companies, transportation and other departments to get a new job.

    – CCTV is also widely reported that Cuba allows private farmers contracting the land, allow more individual business. “According to data released by the government, the existing more than 13 million farmers be allowed to contract land of Cuba, more than 17 million people receive individual business licenses.” Deliberately avoided the “contract land” is limited to wasteland (Cuba is a highly urbanized country, the existing 1.8 million hectares wasteland no one cultivated), and China is completely different from the land contract; also avoided to allow the individual business in Cuba is limited to food and beverage industry, hairdressing and other services, and generally does not permit employment of workers. As of the end of 2009, Cuba 6,000,000 85% of labor force employed in public, 12% of employment in the collectively owned units, 2% of individuals, 1% is funded enterprises. Owned 95% of total industrial output value. Raul Castro stressed that reform will remain an absolute ownership of Cuba after the main, that is, assets, output, employment in the public sector account for more than 90%.

    – CCTV widely reported, “Cuba to Cubans to provide the ultimate abolition of price subsidies for food and other goods the supply of cards” is even more obvious out of context. Raul Castro’s words were: “Cuba to the Cubans eventually eliminated price subsidies for food and other supplies supply card, but not abruptly canceled, but an abundant supply of any goods to cancel anything. Universal free education, universal Free health care is the basic welfare of the Cuban people, embodies the essence of socialism will never change. ”

    – CCTV widely reported, “Cuba to allow private purchase of housing” is a blatant distortion, it seems that Cubans have no house to live before. In fact, Cuba welfare housing distribution system, all married men and women are free to obtain a set of housing. But before this housing is only exchangeable, not sold. Cuba is only by allowing the sale of the house assigned to the relevant property that has a complete private property rights, but most people will receive free housing is not sold on the streets. Therefore, this measure is only symbolic meaning, like China will not cause prices to soar.

    – CCTV stressed that Cuba to follow the “path of Cuban socialism,” but deliberately avoided the “Cuban socialist road,” the true meaning. “Cuba’s socialist road” is Fidel Castro’s 1995 visit to China. At that time, Fidel Castro meeting with Comrade Jiang Zemin pointed out that “China has made great achievements in reform and opening up, China’s model is the real hope for developing countries. However, Cuba’s national conditions, not easily follow the example of reform in China or Vietnam opening experience. Cuba Cuba, according to their actual take the socialist road. ” Therefore, “the Cuban socialist road” actually means “never copy China, Vietnam’s reform experience” means.

    … …

    In fact, and the CCTV coverage of the Cuban reform the contrary, the Cuban Communist Party throughout the Sixth National Congress full of “some people”, “some countries” is not named in the criticism. Raul Castro, the opening ceremony in the General Assembly that Cuba ongoing “economic model of modernization” process will not cause the concentration of wealth. In the socialist system, will never tolerate prejudice the interests of the poorest, because they are the staunchest supporters of the revolution. Some countries allow some people get rich first name under the banner of the concentration of wealth into the hands of a small group of people, “has openly contradict the essence of socialism.” Congress caused Fidel Castro’s letter also emphasized that “Cuba will not abandon the revolutionary ideals of reform.” Fidel Castro pointed out that some people had thought that the method can be used to build capitalism, socialism, this is one of the major historical errors. “I do not want to point out the names of those people, do not want to do theory.” But the fact that for decades, those who count on theorist, his theory written into the Party Constitution to the Constitution of the people, “in fact, no correct understanding of Marx, Engels and Lenin thought that their practice most of the measures have been denied. “Raul Castro’s speech and letter of Fidel Castro to be Cuba Sixth National Congress of the Communist Party’s guiding ideology.

    Personnel changes can be seen from the Cuban Communist Party’s Sixth National Congress of the thrust and direction of reform Cuba, the Western media as “Cuba’s most loyal supporters of socialism,” Machado Ventura was elected the Communist Party of Cuba second secretary. Has been called the “architect of economic reform Cuba,” Carlos Lage, who is further fading of the political arena. (Carlos Lage, 59, advocated “learning from China, Vietnam’s reform experience”, the Cuban Communist Party in 1997, the Fifth National Congress of the Third Cuban people become, for a total of six ancient personnel changes in preparation for be exempt from the Council of Ministers Secretary. Fidel Castro, entitled “Conference of Ministers of the correct change,” said a signed article in the government reshuffle is the “right”, the restructuring of the “not for some cadres take unfair practice. “It was” too eager to climb, “” the power of the temptation to raise their ambitions, so that they lose their dignity. “)

    In short, the Cuban Communist Party is indeed the Sixth National Congress of Cuba stressed the need to reform, but also stressed the need to adhere to the reform of the socialist orientation. A lot of content and the CCTV and other mainstream media even reported the opposite. I do not understand how blatantly distorted reports CCTV Cuban reform?

    Incidentally, not just Cuba. CCTV and other mainstream media coverage of other communist countries are also full of distortion. Not to mention almost all of North Korea’s reported quote from South Korea’s media, Vietnam, Laos, there are many distorted reports. For example, five years ago, Viet Cong, “Top Ten” when media coverage of China “to allow capitalists to join the party is the Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam is an important breakthrough,” Communist Party of Vietnam this year, “XI,” The Chinese media also reported, “The Congress Communist Party of Vietnam will allow capitalists to join the party, “do not know after five years will not be reported again. Again, Vietnam declared that he “is in a capitalist society to socialist society, the initial stage of transition”, the Lao claimed he “is in a capitalist society from the transition to a socialist society to prepare the stage.” Both countries deny that they are a socialist country, that socialism is the next goal, public ownership, planned economy, universal free education, universal free medical care and other essential characteristic of socialism, only to do this can be considered to achieve socialism. But China believes that Vietnam, Laos is more like a country than a socialist, so do not Guyue Nan, Laos strong opposition, he just put labels on the socialist countries to the head … …

    Finally, talk about the newly elected first secretary of Cuba Central Raul Castro, Fidel Castro and his brother is different from relatively low-key Raul Castro, the outside world is difficult to understand his ideas. However, a press he was called “Cuba’s Deng Xiaoping,” when immediately Raul Castro sang in fluent Mandarin Chinese song: “The East is Red, the sun rose, the Chinese out of a Mao Zedong, who for the people Well … … “Suddenly, the reporter learned anything … …

  2. Big changes in Cuba are coming and will likely strengthen socialism. What will happen in the next couple of years is the gray economy and underground small market economy will be forced out into the open where the government can have oversight and collect taxes. More like Vietnam and China. Anti-corruption campaigns will strengthen the rule of the working people and the farmers over society.

    Cubans obviously start with the actual conditions of the economy, and a desire to develop socialism. However, one has to wonder about their analysis of the weaknesses of the Soviet Union’s economy and an understanding of how revisionist ideas led to weakening of the rule of the working class over the state and economy. These must be important topics of discussion?

  3. Ardeen Roy Diamante

    Hi, I’m not here to post but I do have questions on how to contact the Cuban, Venezuelan and Bolivian embassy here in the Philippines. I have questions in regards to their political and economic struggles. Thank You.

  4. Good news! That may lead to the path of Che. Long live Raul Castro!

  5. I am overjoyed to see Cuba working on it’s political scene, something Marxism needs. If one shining example were to form, many people would change their minds about Marxism. Long Live Raul and Fidel Castro!

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