Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — For the first time in fifty years, what we might call “socialist pragmatism” seems to be guiding the steps of the president of our country. This is the conclusion I drew from reading Raul Castro’s closing speech a week ago to the National Assembly.
Castro clearly shows his intentions to scrap Frankenstein’s monster of an economy that we’ve had for decades. He’s trying to create a model he can leave to his successors, considering his age and his aim of not remaining in office for more than five more years.
In one of his customary short speeches, loaded with lots of Cuban praises, the successor to the historic commander-in-chief bluntly discussed the current economic situation.
He used phrases referring to the unsatisfactory outcomes of strategic investments for the country, saying: “We must go beyond the immobilism, superficiality and improvisation that persist with most of our investments.”
The president nevertheless reiterated the need to put our finger on the weak points, re-echoing his convictions. In one paragraph he stressed: “Along with the development of the theoretical conceptualization of the Cuban economic model, study continues concerning the foundations of the long-term program for development in different spheres of national life.”
Raul Castro continues to hammer away at the need to break with a mentality rooted in habits and concepts of the past. What’s especially interesting, though, is that this is his own past and the past of his older brother, the charismatic leader who finally stepped down as head of state about five years ago.
Raul’s concept of the economy points toward the creation of foundations upon which the Cuban socialist system can continue to be built – a system which he is committed to defending. He uses defining phrases related to the previous steps and those to come.
These include new methodologies for determining prices, the restructuring of the wholesale market, the creation of non-agricultural cooperatives, and the definitive overcoming of the dual currency.
However more details are needed, the lack of which is his dark point.
Our president refers to the gradual recovery of the credibility of the national economy, a commendable expression for the value implied in recognizing the contrary. He reiterates the need for debt payments, also noting that immigration reform is aimed not only at Cubans wishing to travel abroad but also at the expansion of rights to those who have already emigrated.
We must remember that for the first time in our history with a single party and its conferences, Raul Castro has determined that economic issues are the country’s central task; indeed these were the only one of the Sixth Party Congress. It seems that he’s reaffirming his intention to end improvised approaches by appealing to collective and institutional decisions, which were so often proclaimed by his predecessor but so poorly carried out.
Those who will come after him will recognize that he didn’t impose his will based on popular speeches at previously selected locations. He’s addressing the core issues of the country in those institutions created during the revolutionary process.
As such, Cubans will finally be able to see whether they made the right decision in voting for and endorsing the socialist system, which up until today they have.
To contact Vincente Morin Aguado: [email protected]