It’s more of a contextualization really

By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez  (Photos: Caridad)

HAVANA TIMES — It’s been a few days now since the 32-page tabloid detailing the conceptualization of Cuba’s social and economic model and the National Plan for Economic and Social Development through 2030 has been on sale at Correos de Cuba stands. I bought it straight away and read it whilst waiting in a boring queue at the Bank of Credit and Commerce. At first glance, I thought it was over the top and repetitive. It was hard to find something new.

To summarize, it talks about Cuban socialism as the continuation of the radical orthodoxy model, that is to say the Marxist-Leninist model, which has supposedly been enriched with the ideas of Marti and of our other national heroes. It’s the same old ideology in whole, repeated word for word as it appears in the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba, or in the ancient documents which govern the Party, or in any Marxist philosophy book written by Jose Luis Rodriguez in the 80s or 90s.

We’ve known what the new changes would be for quite some time now, but amidst all the mystery and its delayed release, I thought it might have held some surprises.

  • Legalization of private property, (within limits and of course subject to Party interests);
  • Legalization of small and medium-sized private businesses and micro companies, (within limits and of course subject to Party interests);
  • Recognition of free markets as a complement, still on a minor scale, to the official planned centralized economy, (within limits and of course subject to Party interests);
  • Legalization of private property, (within limits and of course subject to Party interests);
  • And the impact on the Cuban economy as it enters an international economic context.

However, what struck me the most was the amount of intransigence, isolation, lack of insight, dogmatism and anti-dialectic spirit of those who commissioned this document as well as those who wrote it. It uses the same language and details the same idea which has already failed. It’s the same political philosophy which remains incompatible with our modern human reality. It’s exactly the same thing which has brought us here and now has us stuck in a rut. If a similar proposal wasn’t successful with people from the 20th century, it’s definitely not going to work with people from the 21st century.

Of course, there are a few new things, but these only account for 0.01% of the text. Maybe they’re looking for an important leap forward like occurred with the human genome, which with a similar difference to and compared to all the other animals, led to many amazing things we’ve managed to accomplish. But if that was the case, they should study how many hundreds of thousands of years first had to pass in order for there to be a visible change, especially as they’re hoping to make progress by 2030.

The “new” isn’t envisaged on a different or updated take on socialism nor as anything concrete. It’s simply a necessary evil which they’ve been forced to make in a hostile context in order to achieve their radical communist utopia.

Don’t any of you be fooled into thinking that as of now Cubans will be able to open a small business. It’s nothing like that. This still remains a privilege granted and restricted by the Cuban government at the highest level. Nobody will be able to go to a notary’s office and register a company like you can in the rest of the world. Just like you can’t form a cooperative freely.

First you have to go to the municipal office, then it has to be approved by the Municipal Council which then takes it to the Provincial Council. If they approve it, it’s then taken to the Council of Ministers. The latter slowly go through each of these requests from all over the country and only approve those they feel will be the most important for the government’s interests. This process takes years. I know people who have been waiting two years already and have luckily passed the first two stages.

This is just an example so that nobody is fooled into thinking that there are now possibilities to grow freely with private enterprise. Protagonists of the Cuban political scene are still our biggest obstacles and productive forces still have their hands tied. The “knot” hasn’t been undone; it’s just been “loosened” a little.

That’s why I say that it seems to be more of a contextualization rather than a conceptualizion of the Cuban model. It’s still the same old dog with the same collar on. The only thing they’ve done is recognize in writing that the dog has fleas and that the fleas must live on the dog’s body until the situation changes and they can get rid of them with good old bug spray.



26 thoughts on “Conceiving Cuba’s Social and Economic Model

  • Admired the alliteration and regret that I cannot instantly match it. But as a member of your cacaphonous chorus, I think I hear far too often, the barking dogs of communist dictatorship fervour.

  • I pray that you are correct!
    Freedom will continue to beckon.

  • That is amusing! Thanks!

  • Do you guys ever give it a rest?! You keep harping on “the Castros!” Now the PDRK, THAT is really a family franchise. Cuba hardly is. The next generation, soon to take the reins of power, will be socialist technocrats. I suspect that they will encourage more participation “from below.” (Otherwise, they risk both irrelevance and an end to the one-party state, if that party fails to take into account the needs and aspirations of the people.) Apparently, at least ’til now, that Party has embodied these aspirations, at least to a certain extent and especially during the first three decades of the Revolution, but now something more is required, that being a further democratization and more self-government by the people rather than looking to the diktats by the “responsables.” This further democratization but mirrors our own history, for example, the gradual expansion of the franchise during the administrations of Jefferson and other Virginia aristocracy, the revolutionary changes wrought by Andrew Jackson, and later, Lincoln and Grant under Radical Reconstruction, for Women with the passage of Women’s suffrage in 1920, and the hundred year struggle for civil rights after the demise of Radical Reconstruction, and continuing, open ended, up til our own times.

  • As you are probably aware, Circles, the infamous Cuba King has been thrown off many boards, such as Lonely Planet’s Thorntree, Cuba Branch, the old Cuba Green Screen, etc. etc. Like a recurring nightmare, he keeps coming back, though, under a slightly different name, but always recognizable by his one theme–namely himself!

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