Who Should Lead Cuba’s Communist Party

Pedro Campos

The two top leaders of the Cuban Communist Party, Raul Castro (l) and Jose Ramón Machado Ventura
The two top leaders of the Cuban Communist Party, Raul Castro (r) and Jose Ramón Machado Ventura

HAVANA TIMES — During a recent meeting of the Communist Party Central Committee President Raul Castro stated that “Party leaders must be capable of recognizing the country’s problems and looking towards the future”, an article published in Granma, Cuba’s major official newspaper, reported on July 3. I will limit myself to commenting on this particular remark.

It should be the other way around, Mr. President: those who are capable of identifying today’s problems, those who look for and find solutions to these problems and are able to look towards the future, should be the ones selected to head the Party. But no: you continue to appoint those who are loyal to you, even if they’re incapable of seeing, solving or identifying anything.

The way Party leaders are appointed – on the basis of intelligence gathered or produced by various State Security organs –, a mechanism imposed on the Party by the “founding leadership” of the Cuban revolution, in violation of bottom-up democratic election principles, is what robs Cuba of leaders able to identify and solve problems.

The solution is simple: do not appoint any more leaders, do not make any more proposals for new Central Committee members, provincial or municipal officials and do not even let these different Party institutions impose the “instructors” at the grassroots level of the Party.  Let the members make these proposals and elect who they see fit.

The problem faced by the Communist Party is the same problem Cuba’s entire economy and society faces: excessive centralization, top-down decision-making processes, and a general lack of democracy. Democratic centralism has two main components, but you have neglected the second one, as you have neglected all of the proposals advanced by the socialist and democratic left you have worked to silence.

As I have expounded on elsewhere, until you acknowledge the failure of the political, economic and social conceptions that could be grouped under the “Marxist-Leninist” school of thought, or, rather, the dogmatic, Soviet-Stalinist version of Marx’s and Lenin’s main ideas, a true rectification of the mistakes made thus far, and a true renewal of socialism, will not be possible.

In the meantime, we will have more of the same, disguised with new words and impelled by old and exhausted schemes, structures, methods, slogans and the word “socialism”, ever more divested of meaning and besmirched by failure, in short: more malaise, isolation and contempt.

Those of us who try and rescue the concept of socialism will continue to climb up a slippery slope, full of promontories and, of course, plagued with dangers.

The veiled persecution of democratic socialists continues in Cuba. After the Party, Armed Forces and Ministry of the Interior were “purged” of “perestroikists and left-wingers”, in a clean-up operation which began with the trials of General Ochoa and Minister of the Interior Abrantes, our comrades continue to be “visited” and denigrating articles and comments about us continue to appear in online publications and blogs.

In recent days, I attempted to leave several comments on Cubadebate, an online publication of the PCC. Though these were written in a respectful tone and showed the utmost moderation, they were all immediately rejected.

So be it. This is the time it was our lot to live in and it is better to live with dignity, to take up the struggle, than to live on our knees before the Empire and the new masters.

We continue to struggle for true socialism, for life.

Pedro Campos: [email protected]

8 thoughts on “Who Should Lead Cuba’s Communist Party

  • >> made up of sycophants who are supposedly true to the cause of the revolution and not necessarily bright enough, educated enough, or good enough.

    Wow, that nailed it.

  • Maybe perestroika holds in it the seeds of glasnost.
    A Stalinist state is held together by control.

  • Gorbachev, like most of his cohorts at the time, were comforted that should the communists floor beneath their feet collapse which it ultimately did, they would be left standing not only with billions of dollars but with their heads attached to their bodies. The Castros are in the process of securing their hundreds of millions of dollars but have no such assurances that they will get out of this alive if they were to concede defeat. As a result, they will hang on until the bitter end if only to ensure the physical survival of their family.

  • I see your point. My point is that while Raul is prepared to introduce some economic reforms, (perestroika) he has made it very clear there will be no political reforms (glasnost). The Castro’s view Gorbachev’s political reforms as dangerous folly, never to be attempted in Cuba.

  • He took the first step and reality took over.
    Ok by me.

  • Gorbachev did not intend to end the Communist Party’s hold on power in the USSR, nor did he intend to bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union. His intention was to salvage Socialism by introducing economic an political reforms. He thought he could improve the moribund economy through a series of limited economic reforms. He soon realized the economy would not improve so long as the dead hand of the State controlled it. He thought that by allowing a modest opening for free speech, critics of the system could be co-opted to join the political process. Instead, the people voted out a number of Communists when finally given the chance in multi-candidate elections.

    There’s an important lesson the Castro’s learned: never give the people a choice. Fidel condemned Gorbachev for his economic & political reforms. No doubt that opinion still has strong support in the Cuban Communist Party.

  • Cuba needs a Gorbachev to lead the communist party.
    A man that can end one party rule and bring real change.
    Nobody in sight though.

  • Unfortunately, a system of governance like Cuba’s is going to be myopic by definition because they are largely made up of sycophants who are supposedly true to the cause of the revolution and not necessarily bright enough, educated enough, or good enough for the jobs of running the country.

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