Cuba: The Party of Defeat

by Alejandro Armengol

A street in Havana. (Photo: Rui Ferreira.)
A street in Havana. (Photo: Rui Ferreira.)

HAVANA TIMES — Though defined as the revolutionary vanguard of Cuban society, the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) has never played such a role.

For decades, Fidel Castro was the main obstacle to the normal functioning of the PCC. When he had no choice but to hand power over to his brother, there was the possibility that Raul Castro would choose to change this situation, albeit gradually and without endangering the country’s power structure through such changes.

Not even that has come to pass.

Beyond the “Guidelines” (closely studied for a short while), the changes to the membership of the Central Committee and Politburo spoken of time and time again (also for a short while) and repeated statements to the effect that the Party’s role in society had to be extended, the transformation, aims and scope of this political structure has remained very limited.

Perhaps the most important development is that, now, some of these limitations are at least acknowledged, though there is no talk of failure and cadres continue to “struggle against defeatism.”

According to the Party’s website Cubadebate, following the 13th Plenary Session of the PCC Central Committee held in December of last year, a meeting that “reviewed the base documents for the 7th Party Congress” (to be held in April this year), it was announced “that, over the past five years, 21% of the 313 Guidelines have been implemented, while 77% are in the process of being implemented.”

So many figures and so few real achievements; they haven’t managed to implement a fourth of what they agreed to. So many roman numerals – a throwback to the Soviet era – are screaming for an “update” to the four winds.

It would be more entertaining for us if the Party substituted its roman numerals with Chinese symbols, such that it could declare its last plenary session was the number of the peacock and its next congress will be held under the figure represented by a snail.

Without a doubt, it is far more suggestive to regard the last meeting held at the close of 2015 as a ruffling of feathers, and that the gathering in April announces a sluggish pace, progress that leaves a sticky and even repulsive trail behind. It’s clear that what we are being offered is entertainment, postponement and indolence. The discouraging part is that these Chinese numerals go all the way up to 100. Yikes!

One of Raul Castro’s priorities has been the creation of instruments and structures that will allow the regime to survive the demise of its founders. This translates into replacing Fidel Castro’s entire chain of command with a hierarchy of trustworthy officials and distributing, not just cushy jobs, but economic privileges and entities that will allow those at the top to remain in power indefinitely and on the basis of hereditary channels. While his brother distributed government positions, he distributes businesses.

It was Raul Castro who, at the close of 2010, declared that “the 6th Party Congress must be, by dint of the natural law, the last in which most of us who make up the first generation will take part in.” He was referring to those who overthrew dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

“The time we have left is short, the task immense…I think we are duty-bound to avail ourselves of the moral authority we have before the people to clearly trace the path to follow,” he added.

In a little over two months, a similar gathering is to be held and the tired and hackneyed promises to be repeated. We can’t predict how long politics will continue to cheat biology, but we can be certain this year will be decisive for Cuba and that, if Revolution Square does not take advantage of the door opened by the current US administration, it will not only mortgage the island’s future once again, but that of its descendants as well. The latter is their problem; the rest is everyone’s problem.

(Originally published in Spanish by


16 thoughts on “Cuba: The Party of Defeat

  • Once again, your ignorance of Cuban history is showing.

    Many of the people who joined the fight against Batista soon realized Castro had betrayed the Cuban people. he never intended to keep his promise to hold free elections. Many former Castro supporters soon took the hills to fight against the new dictator, hundreds of thousands of ordinary Cubans who opposed Batista & helped fund the rebels and were robbed of their property and fled into exile.

    Evidence of the Castro’s wealth and foreign holdings:

    by Maria C. Werlau

  • Nothing evil about capitalism like with totalatarian communism that a little regulation can’t smooth out. Communism leads to shared misery and poverty. It only works in a spreadsheet where every economic agent does their part.

  • You may not like capitalism but you should at least understand it in order to properly criticize it. Your comments clearly show your ignorance of even basic economic principles.

  • Olga,
    In almost every revolution some ten percent of the population regard themselves as opponents of the new government/system and go to another country more to their liking
    Many,, like Batista’s henchmen in towns and cities throughout Cuba had to get out or face the firing squads and this is the general rule in every revolution and Cuba is no exception.
    I do not believe that Cubans consider themselves to be slaves anymore than do
    the wage slaves in the United States .

    Anything asserted , especially by you, without evidence can and will be dismissed as specious at best .
    I asked you for your sources and you come back with even more undocumented bullshit .
    You can run but you can’t hide

  • In a word: bullshit.
    The basis of capitalism is totalitarianism
    The owner tells the workers what to do how much they get paid. etc .
    There is nothing so coercive as capitalism whether of the U.S/free-enterprise variety or the Cuban state capitalist sort.
    The basis of socialism is a from-the-bottom, democratically worker-run economy.
    The workers control the workplace and make the important decisions.
    Small “c” communism is a future state and has no place in any discussion of past or existing economies. since it IS a FUTURE state.
    Your problem is that you think totalitarian capitalism is just fine and that greed is a natural human state which indicates that you’ve never read Kropotkin and have that ingrained Roman Catholic view of man as born in sin .
    You speak of coercion but the only coercion in a socialist society comes from having the will of the majority exercised while under your beloved totalitarian capitalism you must accept the terms of employment, on which you have no part in deciding.
    I could go into greater detail on your Venezuela comments but suffice to note that the price of oil upon which Venezuela rises or sinks , is about 1/3 what it was a few years ago . There is less money coming in . A lot less money . It has absolutely nothing to do with Chavismo which was a series of social programs within a FREE-ENTERPRISE economic and which depended mostly on oil money.
    Why do I have to explain such basic information to you. ?

  • It’s very difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,… and God knows there is abundant evidence to support anyone who is pessimistic about the ability of humans to manage their affairs in a rational way … but … the fact is that we have seen many relatively peaceful transformations in history.

    Spain was in the grip of a one-party dictatorship. Greece was ruled by the colonels. Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, … practically every country in Latin America was at one point not long ago ruled by ferocious death-squad anti-Communists, who now reside in the memory hole, while their countries carry on under free elections. The ruling party of the mainstay of world Communism, CPSU, just … gave up.

    The implication of such deep pessimism concerning Cuba’s future for Cubans is either political passivity, or foolish attempts to provoke American intervention. It also assumes that the one million members of the PCC, are all jaded cynics, no longer animated by any vision of transforming the human condition for the better. It assumes a monolithic, static Cuba.

    But social reality always bears contradictions, and society is always in a process of change.

    The Old Mole of history is working away below the surface, in Cuba as everywhere.

  • He and his brother privatized the sole cell phone company in Cuba and then bought it for nearly $800 million. Is that evidence enough?

  • There are a number of factions angling to hang on. Many state enterprises are on verge of collapse so some are holding empty hands. The unification of currency will devastate some while enrich others.

  • Socialism and it’s evil twin are by nature totalitarian. It is unnatural for humans to work without personal incentive. Coercing replaces self interest as driver of economic activity. Open your eyes and see the wealth destruction of all socialist regimes. Venezuela is sitting on an ocean of oil while it’s people lack toilet paper.

  • The Castros brother own the biggest island in the Caribbean and own 11 millions slaves, And sent to exile 2 millions.

  • Do you have a scintilla of evidence that Cubans officials are squirreling away government money ? I’d like to see it.
    Please cite your sources .
    Fidel has yet to buy a palace in the south of France and lives quite modestly for the egomaniac he is supposed to be. He wears sweat suits .
    Remember that Forbes magazine listed Fidel as one of the richest men in the world because the right-wing publisher of that magazine said that Fidel could wheel a shopping cart or drive a semi into the national treasury and drive out with all the money he wanted on any particular day .
    You guys always mix up your dictators .
    See, Fidel is not one of the dictators that the US put in or supports . He’s anti- free enterprise and anti-imperialist and a principled revolutionary so he’s not likely to be flying into Miami with a grand piano full of cash at any time in the future.

  • All Communist Parties have been Leninist (undemocratically led from the top) and therefore cannot be considered to be communist in anything but name only .
    Ostensibly a Communist Party anywhere works toward a (democratic) socialist society which then makes possible the transition to a communist (democratic /anarchist/ no formal government) society .
    But true to anarchist belief, all these Communist Party governments having been long enough in power became self-preserving, corrupt and totalitarian .
    In the case of the Soviet Union however, the first actions taken by Lenin and Trotsky was the dissolution of the workers’ soviets ( democratic bottom-up worker’s organizations in each workplace.) thus ending any chance of a socialist economy/society and as it is with Cuba , STATE CAPITALISM was established .
    Both state capitalism and free enterprise capitalism are totalitarian and anathema to ( democratic) socialism and communism .
    The question is do the Cuban people/workers want a democratic society or do they wish to continue under totalitarian state capitalism or worse, revert to free-enterprise capitalism under which they’d lose most of or all health education and welfare benefits of their state capitalism as is the case in most free -enterprise developing economies ?
    Do they want to have a say in how their workplace will be run and how their government operates or would they , like those who live in the USA come to enjoy always being told what to do.
    Both the PCC and the Cuban government are run in an insufficiently democratic way .
    State capitalism is a bad and unprincipled way to run an economy if you are a self-professed communist but look around at the rest of Latin America and realize that it would only be worse under free enterprise capitalism .
    Just one fact proves that case and that is among all other Latin American countries , Cuba alone has no childhood malnutrition which is due entirely to the equitable distribution of foodstuffs and preventative healthcare under Cuba’s state capitalist economy.
    All the other nations have free-enterprise economies
    We will only know the possibilities for democratization in Cuba when and if the government of the United Snakes calls off its crushing embargo. which will save the Cuban economy huge sums of money.

  • Two concise sentences which describe how the Cuban Revolution is and has always been about the Castro brothers holding the monopoly on all political & economic power in Cuba:

    “For decades, Fidel Castro was the main obstacle to the normal functioning of the PCC. ….While his brother distributed government positions, he distributes businesses.”

    Anybody who expects the Castro regime to reform and transition the country into a democracy and a system which respects the human rights of it’s citizens is deluded.

  • Read between the lines here: We are talking about a couple dozen octogenarians who, living out their last days, must decide quickly how to divvy up the booty they have accumulated over the last 57 years. This stolen wealth and unearned power belongs to the Cuban people. Yet, sharing the spoils of this crumbling empire is the last thing on the minds of these ‘historicos’.

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