Cuban leaders drinking at the worker’s trough

Touring workplaces and repeating the same old working class and populist discourse, Cuba’s Communist Party leaders expect to obtain different results.

Salvador Valdes with a worker in Santa Clara. Photo: Carolina Vilchez/
Salvador Valdés con una trabajadora en Santa Clara. Foto: Carolina Vilches/ – See more at:

Pedro Campos

HAVANA TIMES — According to an article published in Cuba’s Granma newspaper on August 29, during a tour of several Cuban manufacturing centers, Politburo member and former Secretary General of the Cuban Worker’s Federation (CTC) Salvador Valdes Mesa said that “it is crucial to listen workers in order to know their concerns and suggestions for overcoming many of the problems that affect them in their workplaces.”

This is an old strategy that “communist” leaders, encouraged by the Party leadership to “drink from worker sources”, have been employing since Stalin’s time.

Eighty years later, the methods used to “lead the working class towards socialist triumphs” continue to be the same, despite the failure of the Soviet Union and socialist bloc, China’s transformation into a world capitalist power and the disaster that Cuban society is mired in.

“We must change our work methods and style,” Raul Castro affirmed in one of the first addresses he pronounced after being appointed president. No few of us were excited by this and felt the time had come to move from “State socialism” to a more participative and democratic form of socialism.

We had hoped that, rather than continue “leading the working class, listening to or guiding it,” the Party and government would begin to take steps to give workers direct participation in the management of companies and their profits, and generally to make those decisions that concerned them – the ABC of Marxist socialism, which calls for the gradual elimination of wage labor and the progressive expansion of free associated or individual labor, as well as the broadest democratic participation of workers in all political matters.

We believed, and continue to believe, that real power – economic power – should be given the workers. In the same way the old slogan calls for ownership of the land by those who work it, we call for control over factories, industries and companies in general by those who make these productive.

Workers with red hard hats. Photo: Juan Suarez

But no. What all the high-sounding talk of change was about was already clear in the decrees issued prior to and following the approval of the Party Guidelines at the 6th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party (April 2011), where the policy aimed at “updating” Cuba’s economic model was passed.

What the changes were really about was giving the bureaucracy more control over the economy, eliminating “subsidies”, increasing and concentrating the exploitation of labor power, laying off “superfluous” workers, securing foreign capital in order to exploit Cuban wage laborers more efficiently and giving the self-employed and cooperatives a bit of elbow room so they would absorb the “excess” workforce.

Raul Castro and his circle of military officers may continue to talk of “sustainable socialism” and wield any slogan they like. While the government continues to “listen to the workers” instead of allowing them to decide what ought to be done at their workplaces, its “socialism”, its “updated model” and its “guidelines” will continue to yield the same results.

As everyone knows, one can’t expect different results from doing the same thing over and over again. Ultimately, it makes no difference: revolutionary power continues to be in good hands!

9 thoughts on “Cuban leaders drinking at the worker’s trough

  • September 4, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Who has been head of the military for fifty five years?
    Who appointed ALL the current officers?
    Who directed the military into commerce building the Gaviota financial empire?
    The answer in each case is Raul Castro Ruz.
    Although he has limited his period as President, he has not said that he intends to resign as head of the military and although he is an older man, his health is much better than that of his sibling at a similar age.
    Who is responsible to his father-in-law for managing Gaviota – General Rodriguez.
    Diaz-Canel will only be President. Don’t think that Espin and Rodriguez cannot control from a position of massive economic power. My point is that Raul Castro Ruz and the military are virtually synonymous.

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