The 6th Cuba Party Congress: A Chance to Criticize and Propose

Daisy Valera

Photo: Caridad

No Cuban can overlook the importance of the economic relationship that our island maintains with Venezuela.

The experiences of the Venezuelan people, who at this moment are immersed in the transformation of their society, could serve us perfectly well as we await the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC).

As its principal objective, the congress will aim to change the economic direction in which the island is moving.

Many of the changes have been presented to the Cuban people prior to the gathering having taken place, and the transformations will be approved by the party members who attend as representatives of all those in the ranks of the PCC.

We have already witnessed the issuing of thousands of licenses permitting self-employment, as well as resolutions allowing private individuals to hire up to 20 wage laborers, and the accumulation of a large force of “available workers” (the unemployed).

Though on March 1 the Cuban president announced that the previous regulations would be carried out more slowly, but he left no clear evidence as to whether these would change or if there would be other recommendations.

On this point, some of the changes that Venezuela has made to its constitution could serve us as a point of departure for analysis.

Despite the fact that April 16 marked a half century since Cuba embarked on its socialist mission, the duration of the workday on the island remains at eight hours.

Our system has not developed as it should have to become one in which people have time for their full development as humans and are no longer slaves of work.

In much less time, Venezuela has reduced its workday to six hours.

As another example of what should be looked at, Cuba is now also promoting the hiring of workers without creating laws that prevent the exploitation of these individuals who will go from being government workers to having private bosses.  Nor have they set limits on the length of the workday or established a minimum wage.

In Venezuelan the law states that bosses cannot force their employees to work extra hours.

Yet at this moment — instead of demonstrating the advantages of collective workers associations organized into cooperatives — the development of production in Cuba is being promoted based on two historically antagonistic elements: the owner and their wage-laborers.

Added to this the fact jumps out that the number of unemployed workers would decline markedly if the workday was shortened.  For some reason this option has not been considered.

As one can note, Cuba is a straggler in proposing socializing changes.

It is not difficult to discover that all the shortcomings in the “guidelines” that will be approved in the upcoming congress will be at the expense of the workers of our country.

No party activist who respects the Cuban people can allow themself the luxury of remaining silent and obeying.  The true communists must be critical and determined.  They cannot allow the Cuban workers to be dragged into capitalist exploitation.

It is not the future of only a few people that is at risk.

Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.


4 thoughts on “The 6th Cuba Party Congress: A Chance to Criticize and Propose

  • April 2, 2011 at 9:22 am
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    Please allow me to comment on another specific aspect of your fine article.

    You have put your finger on what is illogical–and non-socialist–about the PCC’s present idea for escaping from the constipation of state monopoly (Marxian) socialism. Instead of opting for direct ownership of the means of production through “collective workers associations organized into cooperatives,” the “development of production in Cuba is being promoted based on two historically antagonistic elements: the owner and their wage-laborers.” This is following the Chinese “laxative” solution, and it amounts to a restoration of the individualistic capitalist entrepreneur.

    This is a pivotal point. There is a difference between the capitalist entrepreneur and the cooperative entrepreneur.

    China, of all places, should have known the difference, for they have a great history of worker-owned industrial cooperatives (Indusco or “Gung Ho”), from 1938 to 1959. But Mao converted these into state and communally-owned cooperatives, thinking to recapture the collectivist spirit of the earlier Yenan years, and also to come into compliance with the Marxian Communist Manifesto and the Soviet Union.

    China did in 1959 what Cuba would later do in 1968 by jumping to full state ownership of everything. In both countries it ruined the economy. But China came out of this ruination by fomenting a new capitalist entrepreneurial class. They should have gone back to their Indusco (Gung Ho) roots, but they did not. They opted instead for a capitalistic escape from statist economy, apparently to get foreign investments plus access to foreign markets. Hence, the Chinese miracle.

    The PCC apparently is trying to ape the Chinese success. The alternative to them seems to be this, or the collapse of socialist state power. It is a great tragedy that neither Fidel nor Raul, nor anyone else in the PCC leadership understands the profound lesson of Gung Ho and Mondragon, and turn instead to a…

  • April 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm
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    . . . workplace.

    Thank you, Daisy, for your loyal, profound critique of the PCC’s effort to “modernize” the Cuban socialist model. Everything you say is correct and to the point. Hopefully the party will sit up and take notice.

  • April 1, 2011 at 12:55 pm
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    Another superb post!

    When you say, Daisy, that the PCC should demonstrate “the advantages of collective workers associations organized into cooperatives'” you are illuminating the very essence of a workable form of socialism. By going to the theoretical foundation, you may be opening the way for salvation of Cuban socialism.

    I’d like to make a supportive observation. Collective workers’ associations in the US have a certain attribute that prevents their advancing broadly and rapidly. This attribute, if not dealt with effectively, might retard the growth of such associations in Cuba. It is the idea or belief that the entrepreneurial leader should have the same ownership recompense as other collective members.

    While this idea is understandable, it also keeps such associations limited to one small enterprise, and prevents their extensive, rapid growth. It’s an attribute that needs to be examined, for collective/cooperative associations need to progress with great dynamism, if they are to accomplish their great socializing potential.

    What I’m suggesting is that the person or persons who found and lead a worker-owned association ought to use both material and moral incentives to motivate their creative leadership. That is, someone who believes, for example, that Cuba should have a “chain” of certain service enterprises and has the guts to found and lead such a chain, should receive added compensation for each franchise successfully established. The “added compensation” differential should not be much, but it should be real and meaningful in order to unleash entrepreneurial genius in a socialistic way.

    Being a collective association entrepreneur is not the same thing as being a capitalist. A capitalist uses productive property ownership to exploit those who do the work. A cooperative entrepreneur takes the lead in establishing enterprise whereby workers may escape the condition of wage or salary serfdom and be independent co-owners of the…

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