Rogelio M. Díaz Moreno
HAVANA TIMES — We are on the eve of 2016 and the 7th Congress of the “immortal” Cuban Communist Party (or PCC, for those unfamiliar with the phraseology) is at the gates (April, 2016). To date, the most evident concerns expressed by the top leadership at the different provincial assembly gatherings have had to do with the production of sweet potatoes and things of this nature. What truly concerns me, however, is the fact the members of this organization should not miss this opportunity to clear up a number of programmatic points.
It seems to me this honorable institution should make a priority of clearing up its current class nature. Allow me to expand. Till recently, all Cubans were allegedly workers, be it urban or rural, manual or intellectual, proletarian or peasant. But the times of reform came along and, now, we are seeing the emergence of an “enterprising” class and an openly private economy, complete with small and not-so-small businesspeople.
My question is the following: let us imagine one of these fledgling capitalists, the owner of a business with salaried employees, the whole kit and caboodle, who wants to join the PCC. We could also imagine someone who is already a Party member and becomes the owner of a business of this nature, a restaurant, let’s say, or a ranch that exploits farmhands, whatever.
Let us assume they respect the country’s current laws, that they pay their taxes on time, that they are socially accepted in their community, that they do voluntary work for their Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), that they help old folk cross the street, pitch in to buy paint for schools and they are even good people. I wonder: what will be the reply from the pertinent Party office? What policy will it implement with respect to the member of a class pitted against the proletariat, someone applying for membership to a Party which is allegedly, to a certain extent, the representative of the proletariat?
I would also like to know what side the Party will take in the event of labor disputes between workers and owners in the private economy. If the employees of one of these businesses decide to, say, go on strike, who will the Party side with?
I would be curious to find out how the concept of proletarian internationalism will be tackled if the following situation arose: let us suppose employees of the Spanish hotel chain Melia suddenly have enough one day and go on strike to demand improvements in work conditions. Let us assume they ask for help from their Cuban class brethren in the same sector, in the name of the good old days of the International.
I feel these kinds of clarifications are more important for the Party right now than to try and manage potato harvests, like they’ve been doing for the past 40 years. I feel production issues should be left in the hands of those who work, and that the Party would do well to focus on ideological matters related to the handling of power, participation and things of this nature. The Party should make it clear, once and for all, whether it considers itself capable of directing the development of a socialist project or whether it continues to maintain that no one truly knows how to do this. Then, working people will have real, concrete elements – and will be better informed – to judge whether supporting this entity is still worth their while.
I have a feeling as to what the answer will be. After all, the overwhelming majority in the Cuban parliament approved the notorious neo-liberal Labor Code which is in effect today, and the members of parliament who voted in favor of this abomination were all – or nearly all – members of the Party. At any rate, imagining the answer is not the same as seeing the Party Congress – the highest authority (or at least in theory) clearly define these postures.
True, officially and explicitly acknowledging these issues may prove a tad difficult, for it would be tantamount to recognizing that they are no longer a proletarian or communist party, in the Marxist sense of the term, that they’re not even a social-democratic one, for that matter. It would amount to confessing they are something along the lines of a Christian democratic party.
In short, these are types of definitions that are supposedly important for parties, particularly in times of reform like these – so that people can know who is speaking to them, and on behalf of what ideology.