With the recent congress of the Communist Party having concluded, a friend of mine visiting here in Havana asked me if I thought it was possible for leaders who have been so anchored to their dogma for so many years to change their mentality.
I told him that I shared his skepticism, because the “change of mentality” requested by Raul Castro was made to congress delegates who were undoubtedly rigid old-school types.
In none of the congress debates that I was able to see on television was there ever a mention of rights, like free access to the Internet or the possibility of traveling freely outside of the country.
If one keeps in mind that both questions are often raised by ordinary Cubans, then the first secretary of the party missed out on an excellent opportunity to demonstrate — truly — a “change in mentality” of the organization that he has headed since February 2008.
However, when Raul Castro gave details about the “changes” in question, he limited himself to only asking for a more efficient mentality in the administration of companies, that they reduce or eliminate government subsidies going to those businesses and that they allow workers who are not members of the Communist Party to hold management positions of these firms.
On the other hand, the party members who participated in the congress — rather than participants in debate — they seemed like “correctors of style,” revising each guideline word by word. Meanwhile, those who expected a congress with debates more in touch with the needs and problems of the country were left waiting for something that never came.
The “Guidelines” document is a serious contender to turn into the “new manual” of Cuban socialism. Should this occur, its promoters will care little when the time comes to revise them, since they can’t point to a single guideline that safeguards the transparency of the process of the country’s economic renovation.
Nevertheless, these were approved by more than 95 percent of the delegates. Therefore, it seems that the terrain is prepared for us waking up one fine day and hearing that a certain “leading comrade” involved in putting the guidelines into practice has been “separated from their position for poor handling and abuse of that position” (meaning corruption).
I think that if a webpage was set up with details describing the progress of the application of the “Guidelines,” the Cuban people — with its many professionals — could participate in monitoring those reforms and seeing if they were truly leading Cuba to a “new form of socialism.”