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
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.
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.