Cuba Keeps One Party, Sets Term Limits

Fernando Ravsberg

The “base” of the party gave its blessing to the political and ideological reforms as a whole. Photo: Raquel Perez

HAVANA TIMES, 29 ene — Cuba will continue into the future as a one-party socialist system, according to the address by President Raul Castro at the closing of the Cuban Communist Party’s (PCC) National Conference held this weekend in Havana.

President Castro, who is also the first secretary of the communist organization, stated that it will be necessary to build a more democratic society, one with a better relationship between the party and the people, as well as to have a more professionally functioning press.

One of the issues he touched upon was that of corruption, as he called on all citizens — party members and non-members — to fight against that problem. However, this time his speech was more optimistic, ensuring that Cuba has the capacity to weed out the corrupt.

A single party

President Raul Castro asserted that “to abandon the principle of a single party would be the simple equivalent of legalizing the party or parties of imperialism on our home soil,” referring to those opposition groups supported by the US – both economically and politically.

He proposed instead to “promote greater democracy in our society, starting by setting the example within the ranks of the party” and with “the most comprehensive and frank exchanges of views” with the general population and with a “more professional” press.

However, he didn’t explain what would be the formula for moving in that direction, such as whether the PCC would be establishing new mechanisms to relate to civil society or if it will be relaxing the iron control that it currently exercises over all of the national media.

The worst enemy

During the Party Conference, Raul Castro said more information would be given to the press and that this should improve its professional quality. Photo: Raquel Perez

He added that “our country can win the battle against corruption, first by putting the brakes on it and then liquidating it – without hesitation of any kind.” However he recognized that among those implicated in those dealings are members of the PCC who joined the party to advance their own personal interests.

One of the issues discussed at the National Conference was how to end the practice of requiring PCC membership as a condition for assuming leadership positions within the state, government or even in state-run companies.

The changes in the PCC

Raul Castro maintained that in the future, the PCC would continue to be the leading force of society, but he added that “its strength is moral not juridical,” as he advocated the ending of mandonismo” (“commandism”) and the exercising of political rather than administrative control.

This will require a completely new approach on the part of the party members, accustomed to commanding from the position of power they exert over the state apparatus, the government, parliament, public enterprises and the heads of social organizations.

The party leaders in the future will only be allowed to remain in office for two five-year terms, a measure that aims to achieve a greater rotation of “cadre,” thereby forcing the creation of a pool of talent to permit this constant renewal.

During the Party Conference, Raul Castro said more information would be given to the press and that this should improve its professional quality. Photo: Raquel Perez

In Cuba, not only have the top leaders retained the same positions for decades, some ministers, business leaders and even cultural figures have done the same. The need for generational change is a sensitive issue throughout society.

Towards a new model

The transformations in the political arena seem to be minimal. Seemingly, these are not attempts to change the tools, but rather to improve their efficiency.  This by specifying the social role of the PCC, improving its relationship with general population, and giving a little more information to the press.

Nonetheless, it’s expected that the economic reforms will accelerate their pace to the extent that the base of the party has given its nod to the political and ideological reforms as a whole, which will make it more difficult for the “obstructionist” factions to do their work in the future.

An authorized translation by Havana Times from the Spanish original published by Cartas Desde Cuba.


4 thoughts on “Cuba Keeps One Party, Sets Term Limits

  • but all that being said, they must (!) introduce civil rights of the individual or the whole thing deserves to fail

  • this will be the true test for cuba, one that will show if the socialist revolution has any real roots in the society or if it was only able to sustain itself from the charisma of fidel. when the soviet union began to attempt reform and democratization the whole thing collapsed showing that the whole system was founded on sand, or rather showing that totalitarian systems can break but they cannot bend. but i am for some reason optimistic about cuba, both ‘the people’ and the leadership. they have more than once proven able to survive.

  • Once the capitalist state power has been supplanted by socialist state power, as occurred in Cuba in 1959–or perhaps more correctly in 1961 after the Bay of Pigs invasion–the problem becomes implementation of a strategic (maximum) program of economic and social transformation. This program should solve the most pressing problems inherited from the old order, but also build toward a higher, more ideal society in the future.

    The program implemented in Cuba after initial victory was for one-party political rule, and esp. in 1968 nationalization of all–or almost all–productive property by socialist government. This worked somewhat in the beginning but has not worked well in the longer term.

    The political problem of implementing a workable socialist strategic program has been complicated of course by the hostility and aggression of still-existing capitalist states. Where it not for this hostility and aggression, those countries in which socialist state power had been established almost surely would have had a different and more democratic history.

    Even so, I think history shows that socialist state power needs at least two ruling political parties to develop and refine the strategic socialist program. What is needed in Cuba is not a periodic tweaking of the PCC, but a legal, loyal political organization through which new program might be conceptualized and proposed before society. This would most likely be a second socialist political party, but it also might be a legal political tendency within the PCC–if such a thing is even possible.

  • Perhaps someone can explain to me the perceived necessity of multi-party elections .

    It seems to me that there are not that many differences between those who call themselves socialists or communists and Cuba is a state socialist economy led by the PCC and supported by the vast preponderance of the Cuban people.

    It seems to me that if the Poder Popular nominating process of having the electorate choosing their own candidates from amongst themselves WITHOUT any party affiliation works just fine.

    And there could no more be a viable Capitalist party in Cuba than there could be a viable Communist party in the USA albeit for far different reasons.

    In Cuba the debate is not whether to return to capitalism but how best to implement socialism. These sorts of matters can be settled with open discussions totally within a one-party or a no-party electoral system.
    it is the votes of the individuals reflecting their constituents that are important and not votes by power blocs (multiple parties) which rule from the top down.

Comments are closed.