The Press and the Cuban Legislature

Carlos Pereyra  (Progreso Weekly)

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As the Cuban media evades the big issues, questions flow through the streets.

HAVANA TIMES — The final session for 2015 of the National Assembly of the People’s Power ended Dec. 29 in Havana. I have read and re-read the articles published in the national media, and, like most Cubans, I’ve been left with the desire to read data, analyses and discussions. I presume that they occurred.

I don’t remember the number of pages of the report by the minister of Finance and Prices published in the press, but I do know with bitter certainty that I didn’t find in it the total national budget for the coming year. I was left with the legitimate desire to know how much money we have on hand and the amounts that will be allocated per sector.

I felt as if we in our house were unaware of the family budget, if we can maintain the regular expenses, if we need to increase them, or how tight we must tighten our belts. This lack of information pushes us apart, separates us, instead of bringing us together. At the very least they should inform us of the financial reality of the country of which we are citizens.

Information is the first essential step for participation. Its absence establishes a distance between the rulers and the ruled, the institutions and the citizenry.

Distance is a key word because, if we meditate a little about the strategy of those who aim to pervert the Cuban process, this word, “distance,” is the first step to a separation and later a divorce, the three steps taken practically by every couple that breaks up.

Last week, Cuba’s National Assembly held its final session of 2015.
Last week, Cuba’s National Assembly held its final session of 2015.

And every society operates on the basis of a contract, so, because I support the contract of the [Communist Party’s] Updating of the Cuban Project, my concern and my need to say what I think are inevitable.

At the same time, I wonder if the lack of published information has been appreciated in terms of its possible negative impact in the whole of the population.

No doubt, the announced raising the GNP in 2015 by 4 percent is a sign of success but it’s imperative that we learn what that means and how it was calculated. Why isn’t this figure explained in a visible, palpable and digestible manner? That’s a question that my compatriots ask in diverse ways and tones of voice. All you need to do is to climb into a collective taxi, stand on line at a bus stop or in any public place, and listen.

Why don’t our media deal with economic subjects in analytical depth, in a manner accessible to the population as a whole? Why don’t they put on the table the various ways to carry out the Updating Project that socialism permits?

They should clearly explain the juncture at which we find ourselves, instead of letting everyone puzzle over whatever is published. Or instead of letting others bamboozle us and lead us down the distance-separation-divorce road.

Returning to the GNP, let us recall that, on March 27, 2012, during a press conference at the National Hotel, Marino Murillo, the present minister of the Economy, leader of the process of Economic Updating and member of the Communist Party’s Politburo, predicted that, by 2015, 45 percent of the GNP would come from the “non-state” [what the government uses to avoid the term “private”] sector — cooperatives and self-employed entrepreneurs.

Did that ever happen? Reviewing the printed and digital press, we find that such information is conspicuously absent.

The fact is that the private sector’s contribution to the GNP remains an unanswered question. True, every prediction is just a probability based on different variables, so it is always subjected — under any system — to circumstances and factors.

But that doesn’t exempt the government from publishing the facts, on whether or not we have reached the figure foretold.

I remember listening to a deputy (who happens to be a noted TV presenter) as she asked what was happening to the much-discussed topic of the Wholesale Markets, which are of the highest importance to the private sector.

Their deficient existence — or total nonexistence — is creating “collateral damage,” because the self-employed entrepreneurs and the non-agricultural cooperatives are buying their supplies on the poorly stocked retail market, provoking shortages for the population at large.

Murillo’s televised response — which he illustrated by raising both hands as if they were the plates of a traditional balance scale — was the disparity between the value of the two forms of Cuban currency. The rate of exchange between the national peso (CUP) and the convertible peso (CUC) is 1-to-1 for state transactions, but 25-to-1 for private transactions.

At that point, the telecast was cut off, so I was left to figure out the explanation on my own. I hope that it was a lot clearer to the legislators. But I sure didn’t understand it.

The media and the communicators with access to the sources should try hard to follow the economic issues professionally and publish their findings in a manner that’s accessible to the citizenry. Questions are spreading through the streets, where the main actors in the process of advancement circulate.


13 thoughts on “The Press and the Cuban Legislature

  • January 6, 2016 at 12:04 pm
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    I also lived in Cuba. Go figure.

  • January 6, 2016 at 9:34 am
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    You worked for a politician! Now we know what happened to you.

  • January 6, 2016 at 6:57 am
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    Sadly IC, pipefitter is correct. Trillions of free money pumped into the US and world economies that bodes ill for the future. At least we can print this without fear of a knock on the door. Amazingly, Cuba, with it’s amazingly intelligent people and natural resources could be a shining star if run right.

  • January 5, 2016 at 6:46 pm
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    Umm can’t realy disagree

  • January 5, 2016 at 5:10 pm
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    Reread my comment. I am far from naive. I used to work for a politician. I was the one who wrote the spin! My point is that in the US there are checks and balances. No one person or branch of government is all-powerful. Not so in Cuba. The oligarchy in charge in Cuba makes all the decisions and no one may challenge that. Yes, there are more Cubans who can afford to live better. About 1,265. The other 11 million are worse off.

  • January 5, 2016 at 4:22 pm
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    Just another thought, why was this thread taken out of the paper?

  • January 5, 2016 at 4:14 pm
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    Well, i’m not sexist, I can play with either sex. I think you may be a little naive Moses if you think we ever get to see the real truth about things. They put spin on most info to make it look the way they want us to see it. The media can’t afford to have real investigative reporters anymore and only regurgitate info from common sources.
    I think there is opportunity for Cubans now as can be witnessed by examples of individuals and co-ops that are making quite good livings for themselves around the country. Also some smart Cubans are returning to Cuba after they have spent some time outside accumulating money and experience and using it to invest in property or start a buisiness or co-op.

  • January 5, 2016 at 3:51 pm
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    In Cuba, the Government does it, with Wall St.and US Gov. big money does it. No difference in result just a difference in method.

  • January 4, 2016 at 5:48 pm
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    You confuse the government with wall street. If wall street misreports something you can assure yourself that all the individual companies involved in the stock exchange, including international governments will be up in arms !!!!! Do you expect that transparency f

  • January 4, 2016 at 3:09 pm
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    How do you know what I haven’t done for my family? Of course, all government’s lie, obfuscate, and obscure. Here’s the difference between what happens when the Castros lie and when (insert country with independent media) tells a whopper: in the US, the New York Times, CNN, or even FoxNews, goes full throttle to expose the lie to attract readers/viewers. In Cuba? Put it this way, the Castros control Granma, ICRT and Radio Progreso. End of story. By the way, that whole “Man Up and step up to the plate” thing? Totally unnecessary and metaphorically sexist. Have you seen the US women’s fast-pitch softball team play?

  • January 4, 2016 at 1:06 pm
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    The castro clan have been robbing the cuban people blind for a very long time now, so the last thing they want is for ordinary decent Cuban people to become involved in the running of their country!
    The castro clan will blame anyone and anything but themselves for the total mismanagement of the country.

  • January 4, 2016 at 9:58 am
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    Sounds like what a North American Government does. Fudge the figures, that is just like you used to do in the stock market Moses.Governments in North America hide Bad news by redacting and making it impossible to access through freedom of information, tripple delete computer data or just conduct buisiness by word of mouth so there is no written record of it. Governments, select, twist and bend figures to get the results they want. This is all part of the so called democratic process you are yurning to get in place in Cuba. By the way, how is it you haven’t set up your family in Cuba in some buisiness? You have plenty of money you ripped off from clients in the stock market. You know that there is lots of buisiness opportunity in cuba as stated in the Financial Times. Where there is need, there is oportunity. Man Up and step up to the plate.

  • January 4, 2016 at 9:06 am
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    If Cuba’s sugar ministry produces one more bag of sugar than predicted it’s the lead story in the national evening news. So we can safely assume that when the Castros fail to report something, it’s because the news is bad. When the news is so bad that it doesn’t need to be reported, the Castros have always resorted to blaming the US embargo, the weather or other external factors. Finally, in matters of economics and accounting, the finance ministry will readily fudge the numbers if not just make it up. How do I know this? My good friend Lisbet used to be one of the four assistants who worked for Marino Murillo. Don’t worry, she lives in London now. So, Carlos frustration is nothing new. This is how socialism “rolls”.

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