CUBA COMES FIRST - SUMMARY

Regarding the document titled Guideline Project for the Economic and Social Policy, published by the Cuban Communist Party, on occasion of its delayed VI Congress, which was announced for this coming April, the undersigned (based on our human rights to free expression and opinion, which in this case have been also acknowledged by the Castro regime) wish to express our opinions. However, it must be reminded that in 1997, previous to the V Congress, the authors of La patria es de todos (The Homeland Belongs to All) were jailed.

It has been announced that the event will cover a single subject: the economy. This seems to be an imposition, since the Congress is “the supreme organ of the party,” and therefore nobody should be trying to set up guidelines for it. We also consider it to be disrespectful toward the citizens – and the Congress itself – that key topics, such as political, social, and other issues are to be skirted. Even economic matters are dealt with in a limited fashion; The prevailing corruption, for example, is not mentioned, and no explanation has been offered regarding the recent scandals. As a matter of fact, the hierarchy seems to wish that the congress session in a vacuum of sorts, without dealing upfront with such important topics as the ration card reduction process, a true tragedy for hundreds of thousands of Cuban families.

Currently, there is a process underway, and lasting until the end of February, with the purpose of – it is said- “gathering and taking into account” everyone’s opinions. Since this will be done under the absolute control of the party (and since the document is also arid and vague), we think this statement is merely an act of propaganda and demagogery, virtually devoid of weight or credibility. Even worse, in previous similar processes, popular opinion has been either ignored (such as the raising of the retirement age, which was massively opposed by the workers), or the fate of these opinions is unknown.

This document does not delve in historical matters (which is correct), and instead it takes an autocritical side glance at the last half century, during which Cuba was driven into the ruinous ditch it currently finds itself in, in spite of the fantastic foreign subsidies.

The Guideline Project avoids a minute analysis of the Economic Resolution of Congress V, most of whose content has not been observed. What is the basis, now, to believe that what is being proposed for the April event will be honored this time around? As a matter of fact, some of the premises the Guideline Project is based on are false. For example, it criticizes the Obama administration for failing to modify the economic embargo, when it is true that it actually has taken steps in this direction, steps which have been minimized by Havana, and in the case of contractor Alan Gross, have even been sabotaged. This is counterproductive when we take into account that the most effective way of getting Cuba out its ruinous economic situation is for it to engage in economic relations with a country or group of countries with solid economies. The United States would be the ideal candidate for this. But the fact is that our relations, not only with the United States, but also with the European Union, remain uptight, owing to the fact that human rights are not respected in Cuba.

We consider that when the Guideline Project limits the conversation to the “updating of the economic and social model of the country” (which in essence implies maintaining the status quo) is actually condemning this alleged “reform” to failure. We agree with Fidel Castro’s statement in that, “the Cuban model doesn’t work, even for us.” And we believe that it needs to be changed, and not “updated”. This would allow us to avoid an out of control social explosion, one that could be equal to or greater than the one witnessed at the main movie theater in Santa Clara and its surroundings. Such an explosion could arise from within the Cuban population given its extreme level of discontent in which no perspective is seen and unpopular measures such as massive lay offs, hikes in utility charges, and the announced cessation of the food rationing voucher program. We consider that the much publicized increase in the number of self-employed workers will not solve the dire current situation, especially when we consider that the conditions for this are highly unfavorable. As a matter of fact, we believe that Cuba is moving closer and closer to a state of “savage communism”.  

The Guideline Project acknowledges, albeit in an indirect, non-commital manner, that the economic situation is serious. While this is true, it is also true that the political, social, moral and demographic situation of Cuba is serious. Additional topics, such as the environment, national identity and family separations are also of concern.

The economy has seen discrete progress in a few areas that happen to be linked to foreign investment – this is not a coincidence. However, the goal seems to be to assign foreign investment a secondary role in the economy, while Cuban are also discriminated against in this field, something that is truly shameful.  

We have three specific objections to the Guideline Project: 1) That no figures, not even one, are mentioned in it; 2) Most of the statements contained in it are lip service, aspirational statements that would only be valid if the system worked, which is not the case; the document brings to mind a letter to Santa; and 3) We disagree with the means set forth to bring about these hypothetic changes. It is stated that “only socialism can overcome the hardships and maintain the victories of the Revolution,” when it has been “socialism” itself that has been responsible for Cuba’s deplorable current situation.

While we do not claim to have a final recipe for leading Cuba out of the dead ally in which it currentl finds itself, it is clear that the roles of markets, private property and individual investors cannot be denied anymore, furthermore, we cannot continue to allow the economy to be perceived as separated from politics and the rest of the problems currently bearing down on our country. We have to acknowledge that the much publicized “Revolution’s triumph’s” are not a product of the system itself, and owe, largely, to foreign subsidies. Furthermore, they are in fast decline.

Human rights must be respected and dissent legalized; the option to choose its leaders in free and open elections must be afforded to Cubans; the state must work for the individual, not the other way around; all those currently imprisoned for political reasons must be freed, and there shall be no more political prisoners.

Steps such as those outlined above will allow the much needed assistance of developed countries to find its way to Cuba, and this in turn will allow for a speedy economic recovery of the country.

It is possible that the rank and file communists will distrust those of us who openly challenge the system, as well as the exile community, and viceversa. But the homeland of all Cubans is in danger, and we must help it out of the terrible situation it currently finds itself in. We must do this based on a premise: Cuba comes first.

Havana, December 7, 2010.

Félix Antonio Bonne Carcassés

                                          Guillermo Fariñas Hernández

René Gómez Manzano