By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — It has been very rare for any leader in any country in the world to be in power for such a long period of time, like Raul Castro has had, to try and convert their projects into reality. It’s been over a decade if we add the two years of his interim government (2006-2008); and we still haven’t even seen the tip of the “progress iceberg” in the never-ending ocean of Cuban poverty.
I have no doubt that he wanted to change the Cuban system so as to get a better socio-economic result. In that vein, he began an encouraging public debate, although it was far too controlled. Then came the Communist Party “Guidelines” stating that we should do what we’ve always been doing, but in different words so it would seem like something new. Later came the Conceptualization of the Cuban socialist model and the Development Plan through 2030.
Pages and pages, a lot of bla-bla-bla, and nothing substantial that shows that there will be any real change: not in mentality, or in the country’s institutions, or in the economy or in people’s rights.
Let’s use a part of Marxist jargon to analyze his management. In political matters, he hasn’t shown even the slightest interest in changing or rectifying the situation. And that’s where his great failure stems from, because he’s been denying Marxist dialectics and his own principles. The economy is the foundation of everything, but it’s also the cultural expression of social progress in the time we’re living.
Not even today’s historic moment is the same as that in 1959 and Cubans aren’t who they used to be either. By having an out-of-date approach to what our times dictate and by following the same ideas and methods of times long past, our leaders have shown that they are dogmatic and not dialectic; in other words, they don’t understand anything about our objective reality.
He pressed party cadres, at all levels, to change their mentality; and asked whoever didn’t feel like they could that they resign so as not to block the path towards change. He publicly said this on various occasions at different meetings. However, by not making changes in the system’s bureaucratic institutions or democratizing them or giving space to Cuba’s true agents of change (the pacific and democratic opposition, even within the socialist ideal itself) he effectively nipped his plan for change in the bud.
Fidel said it in his Concept of the Revolution, unfortunately as a side note: “sense of historic moment”; “change what needs to be changed.” These are the basic ingredients which Raul’s project and leadership as the head of the Cuban government for the last decade has been missing and the main cause for his failure. Incredibly enough it’s his own slogans, his own political propaganda: they are in his handbook but in practice the results are just not there.
The famous Guidelines, which are no longer even referred to, made it clear in its own name (“political, economic and social”) that they had been defaced, because they didn’t even include “politics”. And in this respect there is an unbreakable and irrefutable trinity between the economic-political-social which is connected and can’t be separated without committing Raul’s own mistake in wanting to transform dirt into gold.
If there are problems in the “economic-social” spheres then it’s impossible that “politics” are working well; it’s the complete opposite, it’s the manifestation that something essential is going extremely badly. And there isn’t a single point in the Guidelines or in the Conceptualization or in the Development Plan that recognizes the fact that the Cuban political system has some major flaws and doesn’t respond to the people’s needs and rights and is responsible for the country’s economic and social failure. Therefore, it is nothing more than “the same dog, even wearing the same collar,” just polished so that it gives the mistaken idea that it is something new and that it will work differently.
The Plan for 2030 will not bear any fruits even in 2300 because nothing vital has been changed. It’s fine that they are investing in tourism, in a Free Zone like Mariel and in water works so as to push agricultural production. Of course these are great engines for economic progress! However, none of this will do a lot of good if the fierce and inviolable domestic blockade which represents the Cuban system remains in place: State-run, centralized, paralyzed and therefore unable to mobilize productive forces. As I’ve stressed in the very title of my article published here on Havana Times “The old Chevrolet needs to be urgently fixed”.
Raul’s development plan for Cuba is unviable and he doesn’t seem to realize it or at least lacks the modesty to recognize it. If Raul and his government were smart they would ask the peaceful opposition for help to encourage real change towards a more democratic system, without social turmoil: which keeps the revolution’s achievements and opens up the way to a new economic, political and social model, which Cuba desperately needs.
However his plan, while wanting to chase after progress and ensure the Cuban people’s wellbeing (why should we doubt that?), doesn’t put these at the very top of the agenda, like it should. Class interests come beforehand: of the privileged political elite, used to tyranny, authoritarianism, and that’s why they’re afraid of democracy.
It’s time now for the opposition to show and struggle for a “truly” alternative plan, which captivates and meets our suffering and fearful people’s expectations: the country is shouting out for this and I sincerely believe that this is the right time.