By Pedro Campos
HAVANA TIMES — Granma had these headlines on January 4 and 6, 2017: “Diaz Canel confirms progress in the tobacco campaign” in Artemisa. “Ramiro Valdes assesses investment program in Santiago de Cuba”. “Valdes Mesa goes to institutions in Mayabeque.”
According to the Communist Party’s official media, the First Vice-President “confirms progress in this province’s tobacco campaign, visiting the Lazaro Pena Storing and Processing Company, he learned about their prospects for development and its current situation and he showed an interest in employee working conditions which make the company’s purpose attainable, and their wages.”
Meanwhile, another Vice-President, Ramiro Valdes during his visit “assessed the housing construction, the Water Resources system works, the running of the new sea terminal and other important investments which have occurred in the province and he pointed out the fact that the new year demands greater control in the rational use of resources destined to this important issue and a greater building quality.”
Similarly, the also Vice-President, Valdes Mesa on his tour, “called for efficiency parameters to be followed closely, to make the absolute most of raw materials, to produce quality goods to replace imports… the important thing is to use energy sources properly, complying with consumption rates as well as using science and technology in every agricultural task… We can’t improvise, we have to plan, control and save the resources we can get a hold of.”
So we see that the old work style has been taken up again in the new year, the heir of the Stalinist era in Soviet Russia, characterized by “leadership” visits to workplaces, housing estates and social works under construction, etc., to make sure that plans drawn up by those at the top are being met and to make clear that “the Revolution’s work is there to benefit the people.”
Normally accompanied by an entourage of government reporters, photographers, drivers, servants, bodyguards, local leaders and friends on their “tour”, the “high-ranking” leaders follow a script, as you can make out from the paragraphs above, where they confirm that plans are making headway, show concern for workers and give the same general, superficial and arbitrary guidelines they always do: “you have to demand, quality needs to be increased, save, manage resources properly.”
This “work-style”, typical of state-ownership has as key objectives showing the leaders’ concern for central government programs and investments being met, their populist interest in employee working conditions and to encourage them “with their presence”.
Stemming from the bureaucratic philosophy which states that whether plans are met lies in the hands of the political cadre, controls and demand for worker efficiency and not in the relation between work and its fair compensation. And until this isn’t applied, because they don’t understand it or because it isn’t fitting in a bureaucracy, there won’t be any way out of this current disaster we find ourselves in.
According to them, workers don’t work as much as they should, nor how they should, they divert valuable resources away from the state because they are thieves and all of this happens because middle managers don’t control them enough, don’t ask much of them, don’t save. Everybody should work because of their love for the Revolution, for its leaders, for a future that they’ve been promised for almost 60 years now, when we already know that there isn’t a future if there isn’t a present today.
These upper echelons of the bureaucracy, rooted firmly in power, believe that its up to those down below to notify those at the top, to hold account for what they do, when it should be precisely the opposite: those who were chosen to executive management positions should be the ones to tell the people, the press and the popular control organizations about the way that tasks given out are being handled, on what money from taxes has been spent on, why budgets haven’t been met, etc.
Of course this would require an extreme change in how we understand society, which continues to have a group of self-designated leaders, without taking popular opinion into account, without holding free and democratic elections, and without changing the state’s property framework and centralized control of the economy and politics.
Therefore the most interesting thing in this early offensive on “the vice-presidents control and help” is to repeat that after the death of the leader, the government continues to hold on fast to their old methods and understanding of control, centralized planning from above, voluntary work and traditional populism from so-called State socialism which has proven its total failure wherever it has been put into practice, especially in Cuba. In effect, “nothing has happened here and we will continue on with more of the same.”
Oh well, it appears there is NO need to change anything that needs to be changed, completely violating Fidel’s concept of Revolution, signed after his death, they say, by six million Cubans.