and what the country really needs
By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES – The VIII Cuban Communist Party (PCC) Congress has just drawn to an end. Its debates, speeches, decisions and reports, which were partially broadcast on national TV, make the imbalance between national reality and official political discourse clear.
It’s as if there were two Cubas: the one on the street with daily hardship, scarcity, a desire to emigrate and frustration, but with fear of calling things by their name and standing up to the government – we have only a small space of freedom on social media.
Then there is the Cuba presented in official discourse, which is the one that was contemplated at the Congress. This second ‘Cuba’ describes a people who love their triumphant revolution, which is very popular and has renewed energy in spite of failures. These are always blamed on the US blockade and the ‘enemy’s’ attacks.
This is same speech we’ve heard to death and it is not at all convincing, even though it comes out of a face with a stern expression, because they don’t even try and convince us anymore. It’s just to dissuade us, with repression and the fear of becoming a social outcast.
The Congress was another act of revolutionary reaffirmation. There is no other way of describing it without going astray from the truth. It was full of threats to breakaway groups and messages of force. It also made it clear that the political/economic system won’t give up an inch of ground, whether it works for the Cuban people or not. At the end of the day, it works for them because they’re still the ones in power.
What still remains unclear (at least for myself writing here and giving my two cents), is just how sincere and sustainable this continue with the status quo and conservative spirit is, which the new ‘supreme leaders’ of Cuban politics brandish. It seemed more like a message of confidence and gratitude addressed to the historic leaders who have left their positions of power, rather than a threat to our people’s wish for Change.
This is understandable given the fact that it is thanks to these historic leaders (and their vote of confidence) they have risen to power, and not thanks to the general population via popular elections, like it should be. We must wait and see what this hand-over of power translates into soon, when the historic generation is no longer around, and we can see how pragmatic they potentially become or how much they cling onto their maestros.
Cuba has a great deal of problems that need to be dealt with urgently, and they can only be resolved with democracy, economic freedom and respect for all human rights. The PCC has two options: work in favor of a solution or try to prevent any changes until the very end. Unfortunately, the latter is exactly what they’ve been doing and what the Congress discussed: how to delay solutions.
Many people already believed that a political party with such a rap sheet has nothing left to do for Cuba. Others are perfectly justified when they don’t want it to take part in the solution to national problems, because of a lack of confidence or rancor, or for justice’s sake. According to some opposition surveys, most Cubans wish for change and prefer this change to come from within the existing system, for the sake of social peace and preserving what the Cuban people believe to be “social achievements”, even if they have been run into the ground.
We can hear the Cuban people telling the PCC “you made this mess, now we’re giving you the chance to fix it”. “You’ve accumulated way too much power and you’ve used it badly. We’re giving you the chance to use it a little more and rectify the situation and improve the path forward with proper governance and social peace.” It could be said that this is the PCC’s debt to the Cuban people, and if they don’t pay up like they should, they will lose the perishable chance to hold onto their political capital in an inevitable democracy.
In fact, the PCC is so predictable it has already started to play deaf. It entrenches itself and avoids change. The challenge to being a democratic party participating in a democracy is inconceivable, it’s way over their heads. They believe they need to violate political rights of most of the non-Communist Cuban people in order to survive, and they do this without hesitation.
Stepping up to the plate when Time calls for it is no easy task, nor is changing the paradigm in time and recognizing that you failed and that it needs to change. Such an ideological and psychological feat is the privilege of a select few.
Political formulas for democratic change and economic freedom, without the PCC excluding itself, are possible. It could even hold a leading role like the current Constitution stipulates. However, they can’t see past their noses and are clinging onto the outdated and destructive radical Stalinist ideology. One that has sunken them into economic crisis and pushes them to the end of their days while leading most Cubans to despise them.
They can’t see that they need to give Cuba what it needs, otherwise History will condemn them. The last thing the Cuban people want is continuity. The Cuban people want change!