There is much to admire in Cuba
in its commitment to principles of universal education, health care and
equality. Yet, something is not working well enough and these commitments
cannot be adequately supported. What jumps out is the potential benefits
of a self-reorganizing of society made possible by free markets.
observation became apparent when studying participatory democracy. It
does not seem fair to write off Cuba as non-democratic when certain aspects of
Cuban governance involve high levels of engagement of citizens in the elections
of representatives at the municipal level and indirect elections at provincial
and national levels.
describing the activities of elected officials, much of their time seems
preoccupied with the central administration of bakeries not working well,
deterioration of buildings, lack of local services, line-ups at grocery stores
etc. Topics that would rarely, if ever, attract the attention of elected
officials in free market societies.
bakery provides poor service, someone establishes another and provides better
service. A lack of local services becomes a recognized need and an
opportunity for someone to set up a business to serve that need.
contractors compete based on affordability and quality of service. There
should be no need to wait for the next council meeting in several months with
follow-up another six months later.
marketplace allows for timely improvements and creation of new services with
little or no effort by government and greater overall efficiency.
that it is not as simple as that. A bakery unable to get flour is not
able to bake bread. A grocery cannot provide vegetables if they are
rotting in the farmers’ field because of transportation problems or fuel
shortage. However, even these difficulties will generate needs that
enterprising individuals can address and improve.
the improved efficiency in providing services and products will lead to an
improvement in the overall economy. This is already very evident through
the expanding activities of innovative cuenta propistas (self employed).
therefore important to look at free markets as an important aspect of how
people behave not as ideology – not as capitalism. Free markets are
possible in conjunction with Cuban societal commitments to fairness and
observed that while excessive inequality is undesirable, a little inequality is
a driver for improvement, a way for people to do a little better.
the objective should be to limit excessive inequality. Successful
societies apply progressive, but not punitive, income taxes and inheritance or
continued stress on a commitment by individuals to a well-functioning fair
society could allow Cuba to benefit from the efficiency of free markets and, at
the same time, better support Cuban principles and objectives.
Castro did say that he would move forward, carefully, but without pause.
He also said the Cuba has to learn, even from capitalists.
it is during times of change that people get dissatisfied as the desire for
change outstrips the rate of change. I think that now is such a time and
Cuba should open up more rapidly to free market philosophies without
compromising Cuban commitments and principles.
of the migrants hoping to claim asylum in the United States are fleeing Central
America’s violence-torn “Northern Triangle” of Guatemala, Honduras and El
Salvador, contrary to popular perception.
71,021 asylum-seekers waiting in Mexico for their
applications to be processed in the U.S. as of late February, 16% were Cuban,
according to federal immigration data.
makes Cubans the third-largest group of migrants, just ahead of Salvadorans,
and after Guatemalans and Hondurans.
Why Cubans flee
Cubans at America’s doorstep are mostly economic refugees. But since Cubans no longer
have preferential status over other immigrants – as
they did until former President Barack Obama stopped automatically admitting
Cubans who made it to the U.S. – claiming asylum is now virtually their only
hope of winning entry. G
who can afford it fly to South America or hire smugglers to take them to Mexico in “fast
boats” before trekking north to the U.S. border. Those who can’t afford to pay
smugglers try to cross the Florida Straits on rafts or small boats called
“balsas” – a dangerous 90-mile ocean passage.
this year, the U.S. Coast Guard has picked up 180 Cuban “balseros” at sea trying to reach the U.S.
The number is modest – but it’s already more than three times the Coast Guard
rescues of Cubans made last year. Cubans intercepted at sea are returned to
Cuba under the terms of a 1995 migration agreement.
current uptick recalls the gradual increase in rafters rescued at sea in the
spring of 1994, numbers that rose exponentially that summer, culminating in the
“balsero” migration crisis.
by the collapse of the Soviet Union – communist Cuba’s main international
partner at the time – the 1994 exodus saw 35,000 Cubans arrive in the U.S.
in two months.
the United States’ third Cuban migration crisis. In 1965, some 5,000 Cubans
embarked from the port of Camarioca in small boats, landing in south Florida.
In 1980, the Mariel boat crisis brought 125,000 Cuban migrants to the U.S. in
the so-called “freedom flotilla.”
migration waves came when the Cuban economy was in crisis and standards of
living were falling. All three occurred when Cubans had few avenues for legal
migration. With legal routes foreclosed, pressure to leave built over time as
the economy deteriorated, finally exploding in a mass exodus of desperate
external shocks hit an economy already weakened by the decline in cheap oil
from crisis-stricken Venezuela due to falling production there, forcing Cuba to
spend more of its scarce foreign exchange currency on fuel. Since Cuba imports
most of its food, the island nation has experienced a food crisis.
result is the worst economic downturn since the 1990s.
Pent-up Cuban demand to emigrate
Cuban migration crisis ended when former President Bill Clinton signed an accord with Cuba providing for safe and legal
migration. The U.S. committed to providing at least 20,000 immigrant visas to
Cubans annually to avoid future crises by creating a release valve.
Trump replaced President Obama’s policy of normalizing U.S.-Cuban relations
with one of “maximum pressure” aimed at collapsing the Cuban
downsized the U.S. embassy in Havana in 2017, allegedly in response to injuries to U.S. personnel serving there. And he
suspended the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, which provided upwards
of 20,000 immigrant visas annually to Cubans with close relatives in the U.S.
measures drastically reduced the number of immigrant visas given, closing the
safety valve Clinton negotiated in 1994. In 2020, just over 3,000 Cubans
immigrants were admitted to the U.S.
some 100,000 Cubans who have applied for the
reunification program are still waiting in limbo for the program to resume.
A policy problem
migration crisis brewing in Cuba has been largely overlooked while the Biden
administration focuses on managing the rush of Central American asylum-seekers
and caring for unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border.
House Press Secretary Jen Psaki recently said that Cuba policy is currently
under review, but that it’s “not a top priority.”
officials could head off the migration crisis brewing in Cuba by making the
changes to U.S.-Cuba relations Biden promised during his 2020 presidential
the U.S. embassy in Havana would make it possible to resume compliance with
Clinton’s 1994 migration agreement to grant at least 20,000 immigrant visas
annually. That would give Cubans a safe and legal way to come to the U.S. and
discourage them from risking their lives on the open seas or with human traffickers.
Trump’s economic sanctions would curtail the need to emigrate by reducing
Cuba’s economic hardship, in part by enabling Cuban Americans to send money
directly to their families there.
reversing Trump’s restrictions on travel to the island would help revitalize
the private Cuban restaurants and bed and breakfasts that rely on U.S.
All these measures would put money directly into the hands of the Cuban people, giving them hope for a better future in Cuba.
16-19 congress comes as Cubans battle worsening shortages of basic goods,
including food and medicine. An economic crisis has been exacerbated by a
tightening of decades-old U.S. sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic.
that the congress will take a deep look at our internal problems, not to
reiterate promises but to quickly solve them,” said Julian Valdes, a
government accountant in Havana.
experts say reform has been undermined by vested bureaucratic interests and
ideologues within the party. They will be reading the tea leaves as new leaders
emerge in the all powerful politburo at the summit.
congress will mark the end of the Castro era as the 89-year-old Raul Castro –
the brother of late revolutionary leader Fidel – resigns as party secretary,
the most powerful position in Cuba.
Miguel Diaz-Canel is widely expected to replace him. “If President Miguel
Diaz-Canel is given the post of party secretary, it would strengthen his
ability to take decisions and it might augur well for more expansive
reforms,” said Carlos Saladrigas, president of the Cuba Study Group,
composed of Cuban-American business people in favor of engagement with their
however, someone else is appointed, especially from the ‘old guard’, it would
possibly indicate… continuing economic stagnation,” he added.
long-time European investor in Cuba agreed, saying the government needed to
push ahead with reforms to improve competitiveness, including further
devaluation of the peso currency, liberalization of agriculture, and greater
incorporation of small- and medium-sized companies into the economy.
of that would be dictated by personnel changes announced at the congress, he
said, requesting anonymity.
60, said at a meeting last week on agriculture that “everything that
stimulates production, eliminates red tape and benefits producers is
favorable.” That captures the
essence of reforms adopted by the party at its sixth congress in 2011 and again
five years ago at the seventh congress, but which have stalled amid resistance
from some party members and ideological infighting.
has previously pledged to regulate and tax, not administer state-owned
businesses; allow markets more sway over the central planning system and
agriculture; do more to attract foreign investment; and support private
NOT EAT PLANS
Kirk, a Cuba expert at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, said there was much
more to be done to free up the private sector, agriculture and foreign
Cuban government has taken only baby steps in all of these areas, and needs to
show greater initiative,” he said.
last nine months, following four years of stagnation and in 2020 an 11%
contraction of the economy, the government has made more forceful changes.
granted more autonomy to state businesses to earn and spend hard currency and
loosened regulations on small private ones. It has also unified its two
currencies and devalued the remaining peso, cut utility and other subsidies,
and decentralized the pricing and sale of some farm products.
do not eat plans,” Prime Minister Manuel Marrero said this month,
expressing the new sense of urgency.
be the underlying theme of the economic debate at the congress, according to
Cuban economist Omar Everleny.
said Cubans understood U.S. sanctions and the pandemic were partly to blame for
the hardships they faced, but also were tired of excuses and foot-dragging by
people demand more concrete actions and results from the party,” he said,
using agriculture as an example. “It
is not enough to make an effort: there must be results. Thousands of measures
have been taken in agriculture, but the results are not yet on the shelves of
the average Cuban,” he said.
announced that it was loosening a decades-old ban on the slaughter of cattle
and sale of beef and dairy as part of agricultural reforms as the Communist-run
country battles with food shortages.
will be allowed to do as they wish with their livestock “after meeting state
quotas and always with a guarantee it will not result in a reduction of the
herd,” the Communist Party daily, Granma, said late on Tuesday.
the government made it illegal for Cubans to slaughter their cows or sell beef
and byproducts without state permission after Hurricane Flora killed 20% of the
number of cattle and milk production improved through 1989 when the Soviet
Union collapsed. Since then, the herd has remained stagnant at around 70% of
the 1963 level, and powdered milk imports have increased.
can be fined for killing their own cows, leading many to have only one for
milk, as if another dies by accident, they face an investigation. Others hide
calves in the barn. Still others team up with rustlers, though they face up to
15 years behind bars if caught.
led to the local joke that you can get more prison time for killing a cow than
a human being.
economists say deregulation of the agricultural sector could help boost
government is expected to announce further agricultural measures in a
roundtable discussion on state television as it battles a grave economic crisis
that has resulted in food shortages and long lines for even the most basic
products such as rice, beans and pork, let alone milk, butter, cheese, yogurt
Caribbean island nation imported more than 60% of the food it consumed before
new U.S. sanctions on top of the decades-old trade embargo and then the
COVID-19 pandemic, which decimated tourism, left it short of cash to import
agricultural inputs from fuel and feed to pesticides, let alone food.
growth contracted 11% in 2020 and imports 40%, according to the government.
production has stagnated in recent years and declined dramatically in 2020,
though the government has yet to publish any data.
November, the government said it would allow farmers, private traders and food
processors to engage in direct wholesale and retail trade if they met
The state owns 80% of the arable land and leases most of that to farmers and cooperatives, and until recently had sold them inputs in exchange for up to 90% of their output plus a set margin.
United States needs a fundamentally different policy towards a post-Castro Cuba
than the one applied for the last four years. Engagement is the best long-term
strategy to peel Havana away from Washington’s rivals in Moscow, Beijing,
Tehran, and Caracas. It is also the optimal choice to signal American goodwill
to the new leaders of post-Castro Cuba and put the onus on them.
Biden should restart normalization efforts not only because the retreat from
normalization falls squarely at the feet of the Trump administration, but also
because he understands — as his predecessor did not — how to conduct a great
power bilateral relationship with a smaller neighbor. Estrangement from the
United States was not the Cuban government’s choice, which embraced engagement
long before the last embers of the Cold War had cooled.
Happened after Obama’s opening towards Cuba?
A new and
effective engagement policy requires an honest assessment of what happened
between Cuba, the Cuban American community, and U.S.-Cuba relations after
President Obama launched his full engagement approach in 2014. The Cuban
government responded positively to the first African American president’s
offers of negotiation. Of course, Cuban officials could have done more,
particularly regarding reconciliation with the Cuban American community, but
the two countries signed 22 important agreements. President Obama was welcomed
in Havana by Raúl Castro. In his memoirs, Ben Rhodes, the architect of Obama’s
rapprochement, describes how, in a relative short time, Cuba and the United
States built a partnership removing many obstacles to a comprehensive
interaction between the two societies.
President Obama visited Cuba with a focus on transcending the traumas of
history and a policy of sanctions repudiated by the overwhelming majority of
the international community. The visit was welcomed by almost every segment of
Cuban civil society. During this visit, the widespread hope about a new era
rose above the resentment expressed toward President Obama by the most radical
elements of the Cuban Communist Party. The Cuban Catholic Church, the main
protestant denominations, and the Jewish Community welcomed an approach that
improved their chances for close relations with their brothers and sisters in
faith in the United States. At the same time, Cuba’s emerging private sectors
received tangible benefits and profits from the inflow of American visitors.
Trump and his ally, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), cluelessly deviated from
Secretary Henry Kissinger’s golden rule for negotiation with Cuba: “Behave
chivalrously; do it like a big boy, not like a shyster.” Most of the new
sanctions against Cuba were implemented amid the 2020 electoral race. Distrust
in Cuba about Obama’s rapprochement as a mere change of imperial tactics, aired
by the most radical Cuban left, was confirmed by Secretary of State Pompeo’s
last minute gratuitous return of Cuba to the State Department list of state
sponsors of terror. This damage has made engagement considerably more difficult
and in need of some dramatic gesture in line with the dignity of a democratic
didn’t achieve anything in Havana, but his supporters’ disinformation campaign
presenting President Obama as an appeaser touched some nerves within the Cuban
American community. By stigmatizing any supporter of Obama-Biden’s engagement
as a Castro sympathizer, Trump and Rubio rang the bells of McCarthyism and
conspiracy theories within the Latino community. The Democratic Party was
portrayed as a communist beachhead.
avoiding the discussion about the merits of Obama’s engagement policies,
Florida Democrats surrendered a significant political space to Trump’s
narrative. Trump succeeded without easing any migration restriction for Cubans,
Venezuelans, or Nicaraguans. Using his stay in Mexico anti-immigration policy,
Trump kept thousands of Cuban refugees from entering the United States, while increasing
the number of deportations to the same archipelago Senator Rubio compared to
Hitler’s Germany in senseless analogies.
no rationale to argue in favor of half-measure engagement if the decision is to
engage. U.S. sanctions against Cuba are not a human rights policy but a
violation of the very human rights principles they purport to support. Biden’s
policy towards Cuba must eliminate all the counterproductive sanctions contrary
to international law and must attempt to implement full normalization of
relations with Cuba predicated on Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive of
a full package of dialogue and rapprochement will multiply the impact of
engagement measures in Cuba. For example, it makes no sense to ease travel to
Cuba while preventing U.S. airlines from traveling to other cities but Havana.
Moreover, given the notoriously electoral nature of the Trump administration’s
hostility towards Cuba, it makes no sense to treat Trump’s actions as standard
procedure while trying to change U.S. policies which have applied tightened
sanctions for 25-years under the Helms-Burton Act’s imperial image.
diplomacy, a drastic cut from Trump’s policies will be better for American
interests. U.S. diplomats will be in a better negotiating position if
their marching orders are seen by Cubans as reflecting a full commitment to
engagement. This perception will allow issue-linkage strategies when dealing
with the Cuban government. It will also encourage the Cuban government on the
path of reforms that are absolutely needed to overcome the economic
consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. A summer immigration crisis with
thousands of Cubans trying to reach the American or Mexican shores in road to
the U.S. southern border is not improbable. Is this in the interest of the
commitment to normalcy in U.S.-Cuba relations will expose all Cuban
government’s self-limitations versus the U.S. government’s propensity to engage
and respect international norms. A full engagement disposition will attract to
the U.S. side the goodwill of Western allies like Canada, the European Union,
and most of Latin America. Such an approach might even have spillovers in
Cuba’s attitude towards a negotiated solution to the Venezuelan conundrum.
After four years of a policy of America First, translated as America Only, it
will be an act of productive humility to show some deference to the U.S.
political perspective, President Biden should be reminded about his advice to Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2011 that
“there’s no sense dying on a small cross.” The opposition by radical exiles
will be the same if the president attempts a partial or a full normalization.
Concurrently, the political benefits of engagement would multiply the sooner
and the more comprehensive the rapprochement policy is adopted.
course, normalization is a tango for two. If the Cuban government wants to reestablish
lasting relations effectively with the United States, it must behave as a
country, not as a revolutionary cause. It is in Cuba’s national interest to
reduce as much as possible the relevance of the Cuban right-wing radicals in
the swing state of Florida. This will be possible by reducing the bases for
their grievances and opening economic opportunities for the Cuban diaspora. A
mixed economy with rule of law and a more committed Cuban human rights policy
is in the interests of Cuban society, regardless of what the United States does
Cuba is not a favor to the Cuban Communist Party. By opening trade and travel
to the island and opening American doors to as many Cubans as possible, the
United States will influence how the Cuban people view their society and its
place in the world. Developing business ties between the two countries,
allowing Cubans to visit, work, and study in the United States, and easing visa
restrictions as the Obama administration did, will increase the information
flows between Cuba and the outside world.
U.S. interests in Cuba are advancing a gradual, peaceful, and well-ordered transition to a market economy and eventually a pluralistic democracy. Ideology aside, such an outcome is also optimal for the majority of Cubans. If there is a marketization of the Cuban economy, more openness and contacts between the Cuban people and its diasporas, and close ties with the United States, it will most likely happen. Not overnight, but it will happen faster and with better results than 60 years of sanctions and siege.
In response to crippling economic
stagnation, Cuba has passed regulations which hint at a turn towards a more
market-driven economy. However, political control over key sectors including
education and the media still lies heavily with the state. The most striking
policy, which allows thousands of professions to run outside the remit of the
state, will change the character of business within Cuba and may lead to
increased innovation and interaction with international markets. Could Cuba’s
economic liberalisation lead to further political freedoms?
Hints of Change
the number of tourists visiting Cuba dropped by 80% and its economy accordingly shrank by 11%.
Times are hard for Cubans, with queues growing outside grocery stores and
businesses being forced to close. The economic downturn has been lurking for
many years. In particular, Cuba has suffered from the Trump Administration’s
sanctions, imposed to placate the Republican voter base by designating the
Cuban government as a “sponsor of terrorism” from its support for
response to economic hardships and US sanctions, Cuba has indicated an
intention to liberalise the economy. A strong signal of change to Castroist
economic ideas are demonstrated by the Díaz-Canel government’s removal of the somewhat confusing dual currency system
in January 1, 2021, previously established in 1994 after the loss of Soviet
subsidies. This major change, which led to a surge in inflation and devaluation
of the peso, had costly implications for Cubans by placing downward pressure on
the purchasing power of salaries and pensions.
A Landmark Shift in Business Privatisation
currency change is just one part in a series of major reforms. On 6th February,
Labour Minister Marta Elena Feito Cabrera stated that the government would
allow private participation in more than 2000 professions; a stark contrast to
the previous limit of 127 professions. The expansion in private participation
means that previously illegal enterprises can now function openly.
hoped that this will unleash a wave of innovation in a wide range of sectors. This
could work in tandem with recovery from the pandemic. For instance, there
has been encouraging news regarding Cuba’s own “Soberana 2” Covid-19 vaccine: The government
believes that it can administer this vaccine to the whole of Cuba’s population
by the end of the year and export the vaccine to Latin America as a source of
the new private business law does have many caveats: private enterprises lack
certain resources and access to supply chains that state-owned enterprises
possess. For instance, the government maintains control of all large industries
and wholesale shops and monopolises 124 professions, thereby restricting
options for obtaining supplies. In the short-term, the large restructuring of
the economy will inevitably cause painful effects with bankruptcies and unemployment rising.
Yet, in the long-term, opening up may yield positive benefits through increased
opportunities for entrepreneurs. The sectors included within the 124 professions remaining under state remit (including
law enforcement, defence, the media, education) suggest that Cuba is looking to
follow the model of China or Vietnam through the
introduction of capitalist economic policies with the maintenance of tight
Could Improved Relations with the US Spur Political
Change in Cuba?
follow-on effect of Cuba’s economic liberalisation could be a strengthening of
relations with the Biden administration. Indeed, the recent theme of economic
policy changes would require more foreign investments and capital, for which
improved relations with the US would be important.
ties could have political liberalisation effects in Cuba. The Obama
Administration’s relationship with Cuba was emblematic of this trend: Obama’s approach
of normalising relations with Cuba, which was designed to “create economic opportunities for the Cuban people”,
increased US influence in other spheres of Cuban society. Citizens began to criticise issues such as access to medical care,
education, unemployment and domestic media sources while religious leaders and
artists started to articulate positions contrary to the official narrative. This
suggested that civil society was for the first time open to vocally opposing
the political system, despite the government responding with detentions of some dissidents and censorship of blog posts . A similar phenomenon
is possible if Havana’s new economic policies leads to a strengthening of
economic ties with the Biden Administration.
Is a new Cuba Realistic?
Cuba is ripe for change. The push and pull of reform efforts in recent years suggest disputes between traditionalists and more progressive, youthful factions. In April, Raúl Castro will step down as leader of the Communist party which will see the end of the Castro name in Cuban politics for the first time in over 60 years. This has major symbolic significance: Fidel Castro established the political and economic systems that endure today, such as the characteristics of a one-party state with complete control of the media. Combined with the election of Biden, who will likely take a more lenient approach to Cuba in comparison to Trump, and an array of free market policies in the midst of an economic crisis, it seems a realistic possibility that Cuba could undergo major structural change in the coming years.
Después de hacerse pública la decisión de efectuar el VIII Congreso del
Partido en abril de 2021, un evento extraordinario marcó de forma crucial la
vida de la nación. La pandemia de la COVID-19 puso a prueba la capacidad y la
voluntad de la Revolución, y el temple de nuestro pueblo para enfrentar
cualquier dificultad, por compleja que esta sea.
Una vez más se mostró ante el mundo la verdad de Cuba, sus valores, su
probada vocación humanista, solidaria y de justicia social que, junto a la
capacidad organizativa del país y el desarrollo científico alcanzado, nos ha
permitido traducir en resultados visibles el compromiso con la vida y el
bienestar de nuestros compatriotas y de otros pueblos, a pesar de la constante
agresividad del Gobierno de Estados Unidos.
El capitalismo y sus defensores neoliberales demuestran no tener
solución alguna ante problemas cardinales de la humanidad. Sus teorías del
papel mínimo del Estado y la magnificación del mercado, solo reforzaron su
incapacidad para salvar vidas.
Inmersos hoy los cubanos en la superación de los dísimiles obstáculos
derivados de la pandemia, en particular los vinculados a nuestra economía,
sumados a otros que ya venían gravitando sobre nosotros, el Comité Central del
Partido Comunista de Cuba ratifica con esta convocatoria la decisión de
desarrollar el VIII Congreso en la fecha prevista.
El Congreso centrará su atención en la evaluación y proyección de
asuntos medulares para el presente y futuro de la nación, lo cual incluirá la
actualización de la Conceptualización del Modelo Económico y Social Cubano de
Desarrollo Socialista, los resultados alcanzados y la actualización de la
implementación de los Lineamientos de la Política Económica y Social del
Partido y la Revolución, así como los resultados económico-sociales obtenidos
del VII Congreso a la fecha; analizará de igual forma el funcionamiento del
Partido, su vinculación con las masas, la actividad ideológica y valorará la
situación que presenta la política de cuadros en el Partido, la Unión de
Jóvenes Comunistas, las Organizaciones de Masas y el Gobierno.
Será un escenario oportuno para la actualización de nuestra estrategia
de resistencia y desarrollo. Significará un estímulo a la participación de
militantes, revolucionarios y patriotas en las soluciones que se demandan para
enfrentar la aguda crisis mundial que nos impacta y continuar las
transformaciones que fortalezcan la economía nacional. Para lograrlo contamos
con una vasta experiencia de lucha en la construcción del socialismo como única
opción de desarrollo, y con el ejemplo imperecedero del Comandante en Jefe
Fidel Castro Ruz.
Digno heredero de la confianza depositada por el pueblo en su líder,
nuestro Partido, único, martiano, fidelista, marxista y leninista, asume una
alta responsabilidad en la preservación de la unidad, factor estratégico para
En estos años el Gobierno de Estados Unidos ha acentuado su hostilidad
contra Cuba, arreciando el genocida bloqueo económico, comercial y financiero,
y la subversión político-ideológica. A ello se suman las consecuencias de la
crisis económica mundial. Frente a estas dificultades, el pueblo ha respondido
con firmeza, disciplina y conciencia, lo cual requiere traducirse aún más en
aportes de eficiencia y superiores resultados en la economía. Ello implica
nuevas formas de pensar y hacer para alcanzar la prosperidad, fruto de nuestro
En este escenario, la implementación de los Lineamientos de la Política
Económica y Social del Partido y la Revolución enfrenta amplios desafíos. Se
afrontan problemas objetivos y subjetivos que influyen en el ritmo de
aplicación de las políticas y medidas aprobadas.
La situación actual no puede convertirse en justificante que retarde los
procesos; por el contrario, impone la necesidad de dar un impulso a la
actualización de nuestro modelo económico y social para cumplir lo que hemos
acordado y eliminar las trabas que aún persisten en el desarrollo de las
fuerzas productivas y la eficiencia, asunto definido como problema estratégico
principal por el General de Ejército Raúl Castro Ruz.
Urge incrementar la producción de alimentos en el país, empleando todas
las reservas internas, que incluye, como en el resto de los sectores de la
economía y la sociedad, la investigación, la innovación y el desarrollo
tecnológico, además de la sistematización de los resultados.
Los vínculos entre el sector estatal y el no estatal de la economía han
de seguir desarrollándose, como parte de la estrategia económica definida. La
industria nacional deberá responder cada vez más a la demanda interna. Es
imprescindible desterrar la inercia, la apatía y explotar con creatividad todas
las potencialidades existentes, estimulando el aporte de todo el pueblo, sus
ideas e iniciativas.
Debemos avanzar en la eficiencia de los procesos productivos y la
calidad de los servicios, así como en el ahorro de los recursos, el incremento
de las exportaciones, la sustitución de importaciones y la participación de la
inversión extranjera directa. En ese empeño, la empresa estatal socialista está
llamada a cumplir el papel principal que le corresponde en la economía
Nuestro objetivo es llegar al VIII Congreso con definiciones precisas y
concretas, que fortalezcan y den continuidad al programa de gobierno
emprendido, en cumplimiento de la Estrategia Económico-Social para el impulso
de la economía y el enfrentamiento a la crisis mundial provocada por la
La prevención y enfrentamiento constantes a la corrupción, el delito,
las indisciplinas sociales y otras manifestaciones negativas incompatibles con
las esencias del socialismo que construimos, deberá ser una tarea de todos.
Para alcanzar este y otros objetivos, debemos continuar fortaleciendo el
funcionamiento del Partido desde el núcleo hasta las instancias superiores, a
partir de la ejemplaridad de quienes militan en sus filas. A la par, resulta
imprescindible contar con cuadros que mantengan en todo momento una actitud
revolucionaria frente a los problemas, desarrollen la capacidad de análisis en
la búsqueda de soluciones, estimulen el diálogo franco y se caractericen por
una ética intachable en su actuación cotidiana.
El Partido mantendrá una prioritaria atención a la Unión de Jóvenes
Comunistas, sus cuadros, militantes y las nuevas generaciones, en cuya
formación y educación en valores tiene una responsabilidad especial.
Igualmente, apoyará a las organizaciones de masas y sociales, en sus misiones
de integrar, movilizar y representar a nuestro pueblo, propiciando una
participación superior de sus miembros en los procesos políticos y
socio-económicos que deciden nuestro futuro como nación.
Hoy adquiere mayor importancia el trabajo político-ideológico para
enfrentar los intentos de restauración capitalista y neoliberal. Las redes
sociales e Internet se han convertido en un escenario permanente de
confrontación ideológica, donde también deben prevalecer nuestros argumentos frente
a las campañas enemigas.
Ante la guerra cultural y de símbolos que se nos hace, la defensa de la
identidad nacional, y la cultura, así como el conocimiento de nuestra historia,
reafirman nuestra soberanía e independencia.
El imperialismo estadounidense no ha podido cumplir su objetivo de
destruir la Revolución Cubana. Insiste en provocar la inestabilidad en el país,
legitimar la oposición mercenaria y fracturar la unidad de los cubanos,
convertida en valladar infranqueable para garantizar la libertad, la justicia y
la democracia socialista que no se negocian.
Ratificamos una vez más la importancia estratégica de mantener la
defensa y seguridad nacional del país como asunto de máxima prioridad.
En el 64 Aniversario del Desembarco del Granma, fecha que trasciende por
mostrarnos el valor del sacrificio, la confianza en el triunfo de las ideas que
hace suyas el pueblo y la voluntad de vencer, ratificamos que este será el
Congreso de la Continuidad, expresado en el tránsito paulatino y ordenado de
las principales responsabilidades del país a las nuevas generaciones, con la
certeza de que la Revolución no se circunscribe a quienes la llevaron al
triunfo aquel glorioso Primero de Enero, sino a la voluntad y el compromiso de
quienes la han hecho suya en todos estos años y los que continuarán la obra.
El VIII Congreso del Partido, que realizaremos del 16 al 19 de abril de
2021, será de todo el pueblo. Como en Girón, 60 años después, frente al imperio
que nunca logrará doblegarnos, y ante dificultades presentes y futuras por
poderosas que sean, una vez más proclamaremos ante el mundo nuestra convicción
irreductible de Victoria.
Cuba is “betting it safe” with the later development of their own
Covid-19 vaccines and encouraged by what they’re seeing in late stage and experimental
studies, a top Cuban vaccine scientist said.
trials are successful, the relatively small, communist island of 11 million —
that has been sanctioned by the United States for decades — would be one of
just very few countries with vaccines to fight the coronavirus pandemic,
drawing worldwide attention to its potential feat.
countries that have developed vaccines, including the United States, the United
Kingdom, China, Russia and India, have significantly larger economies and
Cuba’s five vaccine candidates are in Phase 3 trials: Soberana 2, which
translates to ‘sovereignty,’ and Abdala, named after a book by the Cuban independence
hero José Martí.
44,000 people are getting the Soberana 2 vaccine as part of the Phase 3
double-blind study. An additional 150,000 health care workers are being
inoculated with Soberana 2 as part of an “interventional study.”
the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the Soberana 2 uses
synthesized coronavirus proteins to trigger the body’s immune system.
seeing that the vaccine is very safe, the potential risk for applying it to
more people is decreasing, and the potential benefits are increasing. There is
evidence of certain efficacy and that is why we decided to expand the
interventional studies,” Dr. Vicente Verez, director of the Finlay Institute of
Vaccines, told NBC News. The institute is named after the Cuban epidemiologist
Dr. Carlos Finlay who discovered yellow fever is transmitted through
institute was established in 1991 by the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro who
invested heavily in the country’s health care system and pharmaceutical sector.
Its cancer research center developed a vaccine being tested in the United
States and other countries.
“we began a bit later than the rest of the vaccines [in the world] because we
had to wait and know a little more about the virus and the mechanism though
which it infects cells,” Verez said. “We are seeing a safety profile with the
vaccine [Soberana 2] that is very good.”
economy ravaged by the pandemic, decades of sanctions and a decline in aid from
its ally Venezuela, the island has been grappling with shortages in food and medicine.
Its economy shrank 11 percent in 2020. But it has managed to keep the number of
Covid-19 infections and deaths down with strict measures and lockdowns,
compared to many developed countries around the world. In recent weeks, the
country has averaged around 1,000 cases per day, but it had very low infection
rates last year.
results of the Phase 3 trials are not expected for months. The government’s
plan is to have nearly all the inhabitants of the capital, Havana, vaccinated
by May through the interventional study, and the entire country’s population
inoculated before the year ends.
said that while the vaccination won’t be mandatory, he thinks “the immense
majority of the population wants the vaccine.”
the vaccine is as much about public health as it is a show of force; that a
small communist country sanctioned by the U.S. can compete on the world stage
with its own vaccine candidates. Cuba
could have acquired vaccines from its allies, China and Russia, but developing
its own gives it the opportunity to sell vaccines to underdeveloped countries
that have seen few doses, giving it a source of badly-needed hard currency. As
U.S. and British vaccines advanced in clinical trials last year, wealthy countries in North America and Europe preordered
large quantities, leaving poor and developing countries with a large gap in
said some countries have approached Cuban officials with the intent to purchase
more than 100 million annual doses of some of its vaccines. He said Cuba’s
vaccine production system is being reorganized to produce 100 million doses. Iran, which banned U.S. and British vaccines,
will host a Phase 3 trial of Soberana 2 as part of an agreement
that includes producing millions of doses there. Venezuela will produce Abdala
vaccines, its government announced Thursday. Mexico and Argentina have also expressed interest
in Cuba’s vaccines.
very safe,” Dr. Eduardo Martínez Díaz, president of the state-run BioCubaFarma,
said in emailed responses to questions. “After applying thousands of doses,
only slight and moderate side effects were seen in a small percentage of
added that both vaccines are creating a high amount of immunity. If exported,
the prices would be affordable, he said.
Verez said the vaccines will be adapted to the new variants, and extra doses could be required to boost immunity.
Author’s Note – This article originally appeared
in Spanish in La Joven Cuba (Young Cuba), one of the most important
critical blogs in the island, where the Internet remains the principal vehicle
for critical opinion because the government has not yet succeeded in
controlling it. The article elicited some strong reactions including that of a
former government minister who called it a provocation.
The New Economic Policy (NEP) introduced by the revolutionary government in
1921 was in fact an attempt to reduce the widespread discontent among the
Russian people with measures designed to increase production and popular access
to consumer goods. Even though the Civil War (1918-1920) caused great hardship
among the rural and urban populations, it was the politics of War Communism,
introduced by the Bolshevik government during that period, that significantly
worsened the situation. This led to a profound alienation among those who had
been the pillars of the October Revolution in 1917: the industrial workers, and
the peasantry that constituted 80 percent of the population.
In the countryside, the urban detachments, organized to confiscate from the
peasantry their agricultural surplus to feed the cities, ended up also
confiscating part of the already modest peasant diet in addition to the grain
needed to sow the next crop. The situation worsened when under the same policy
the government, based on an assumed class stratification in the countryside
that had no basis in reality, created the poor peasant committees (kombedy)
to reinforce the functions of the urban detachments. Given the arbitrary
informal and formal methods that characterized the operations of the kombedy,
these ended up being a source of corruption and abuse, frequently at the hands
of criminal elements active in them, who ended up appropriating for their own
use the grain and other kinds of goods they arbitrarily confiscated from the
Moreover, during the fall of 1920, symptoms of famine began to appear in the
Volga region. The situation became worse in 1921 after a severe drought ruined
the crops, which also affected the southern Urals. Leon Trotsky had proposed in
February 1920, to substitute the arbitrary confiscations of War Communism with
a tax in kind paid by the peasantry as an incentive to have them grow more
surplus grain. However, the party leadership rejected his proposal at that
The politics of War Communism was also applied to the urban and industrial
economy through its total nationalization, although without the democratic
control by the workers and the soviets, which the government abolished when the
civil war began and replaced with the exclusive control from above by state
administrators. Meantime, the workers were subjected to a regime of militarized
compulsory labor. For the majority of the Communist leaders, including Lenin,
the centralized and nationalized economy represented a great advance towards
socialism. That is why for Lenin, the NEP was a significant step back.
Apparently, in his conception of socialism, total nationalization played a more
important role than the democratic control of production from below.
The elimination of workplace democracy was only one aspect of the more general
clampdown on soviet democracy that the Bolshevik government launched in
response to the bloody and destructive civil war. Based on the objective
circumstances created by the war, and on the urgent need to resolve the
problems they were facing, like economic and political sabotage, the Bolshevik
leadership not only eliminated multiparty soviets of workers and peasants, but
also union democracy and independence, and introduced very serious restrictions
of other political freedoms established at the beginning of the
decade of the nineties, and especially since Raúl Castro assumed the maximum
leadership of the country in 2006–formally in 2008 – economic reform has been
one of the central concerns of the government. The logic of that
economic reform points to the Sino-Vietnamese model–which combines an
anti-democratic one-party state with a state capitalist system in the
economy–and not to the compulsory collectivization of agriculture and the
five-year plans brutally imposed on the USSR by Stalinist totalitarianism after
the NEP. The Cuban government’s decision to authorize the creation of the PYMES
(small and medium private enterprises), a decision frequently promised but not
yet implemented, would constitute a very important step towards the establishment
of state capitalism in the island. This state capitalism will very probably be
headed by the current powerful political, and especially military, leaders who
would become private capitalists.
now, the Cuban government has not specified the size that would define the
small and especially the mid-size enterprises under the PYMES concept. But we
know that several Latin American countries (like Chile and Costa Rica) have
defined the size in terms of the number of workers. Chile, for example, defines
the micro enterprises as those with less than 9 workers, the small-size with 10
to 25 workers, the medium-size with 25 to 200 workers, and the big size with
more than 200 workers. Should Cuba adopt similar criteria, its mid-size
enterprises would end up as capitalist firms ran by their corresponding
administrative hierarchies. If that happens, it is certain that the official
unions will end up “organizing” the workers in those medium size enterprises
and, as in the case of Chinese state capitalism, do nothing to defend them from
the new private owners.
political reform, there has been much less talk and nothing of great importance
has been done. As in the case of the Russian NEP, the social and economic
liberalization in Cuba has not been accompanied by political democratization
but, instead, by the intensification of the regime’s political control over the
island. Even when the government has adopted liberalizing measures in the
economy, like the new rules increasing the number of work activities permitted
in the self-employed sector, it continues to ban private activities such as the
publication of books that could be used to develop criticism or opposition to
the regime. This is how the government has consolidated its control over the
major means of communication –radio, television, newspapers and magazines –
although it has only partially accomplished that with the Internet.
government is also using its own socially liberalizing measures to reinforce
its political control. For example, at the same time that it liberalized the
rules to travel abroad, it developed a list of “regulated” people who are
forbidden to travel outside of the island based on arbitrary administrative
decisions, without even allowing for the right of appeal to the judicial system
it controls. Similar administrative practices lacking in means for judicial
review control have been applied to other areas such as the missions organized
to provide services abroad. Thus, the Cuban doctors who have decided not to
return to the island once their service abroad has concluded, have been victims
of administrative sanctions – eight years of compulsory exile – without any
possibility of lodging a judicial appeal.
pending is the implementation of the arbitrary rules and the censorship of
artistic activities of Decree 349, that allows the state to grant licenses and
censor the activities of self-employed artists. The implementation of the
decree has been postponed due to the numerous and strong protests that it
provoked. All of these administrative practices highlight the fact that the
much discussed rule of law proclaimed by the Constitution is but a lie. Let us
not forget that the Soviet constitution that Stalin introduced in 1936 was very
democratic … on the paper it was written. Even so, Cubans in the island should
appeal to their constitutionally defined rights to support their protests and
claims against the Cuban state whenever it is legally and politically
beginning of the Cuban revolutionary government there was a variety of
political voices heard within the revolutionary camp. But that disappeared in
the process of forming the united party of the revolution that established the
basis for what Raúl Castro later called the “monolithic unity” of the party and
country. That is the party and state model that emulates, along with China and
Vietnam, the Stalinist system that was consolidated in the USSR at the end of
the twenties, consecrating the “unanimity” dictated from above by the maximum
leaders, and the so-called “democratic centralism”, which in reality is a
Communist Party (CCP) is a single party that does not allow the internal
organization of tendencies or factions, and that extends its control over the
whole society through its transmission belts with the so-called mass
organizations (trade unions, women’s organization), institutions such as the
universities, as well as with the mass media that follow the “orientations”
they receive from the Department of Ideology of the Central Committee of the
CCP. These are the ways in which the one-party state controls, not necessarily
everything, but everything it considers important.
ideological defenders of the Cuban regime insist in its autochthonous origins
independent from Soviet Communism. It is true that Fidel Castro’s political
origin is different, for example, from that of Raúl Castro, who was originally
a member of the Socialist Youth associated with the PSP (Partido Socialista
Popular), the party of the pro-Moscow orthodox Communists. But Fidel
Castro developed his “caudillo” conceptions since very early on, perhaps as a
reaction to the disorder and chaos he encountered in the Cayo Confites
expedition in which he participated against the Trujillo dictatorship in the
Dominican Republic in 1947, and with the so-called Bogotazo in Colombia in
in a letter he wrote to his then good friend Luis Conte Aguero, Fidel Castro
proclaimed three principles as necessary for the integration of a true civic
movement: ideology, discipline and especially the power of the leadership. He
also insisted in the necessity for a powerful and implacable propaganda and
organizational apparatus to destroy the people involved in the creation of
tendencies, splits and cliques or who rise against the movement. This was the
ideological basis of the “elective affinity” (to paraphrase Goethe) that Fidel
Castro showed later on for Soviet Communism.
can we do? The recent demonstration of hundreds of Cubans in front of the
Ministry of Culture to protest the abuses against the members of the San Isidro
Movement and to advocate for artistic and civil liberties, marked a milestone
in the history of the Cuban Revolution. There is plenty of room to reproduce
this type of peaceful protest in the streets against police racism, against the
tolerance of domestic violence, against the growing social inequality and
against the absence of a politically transparent democracy open to all, without
the privileges sanctioned by the Constitution for the CCP. At present, this
seems to be the road to struggle for the democratization of Cuba from below,
from the inside of society itself, and not from above or from the outside.
lesson of the Russian NEP is that economic liberalization does not necessarily
signify the democratization of a country, and that it may be accompanied by the
elimination of democracy. In Cuba there has been economic and social
liberalization but without any advance on the democratic front.
Large cranes can be seen at Port Mariel inside the Mariel Special Economic Development Zone.
A generic-sounding company headquartered in the tax
haven of Liechtenstein has for the past 37 years served as the center of global
shipping operations for the Cuban government, functioning under the radar while
skirting a six-decade trade embargo, an investigation by the Miami Herald/el
Nuevo Herald and McClatchy shows.
When incorporated in 1984 in the principality of
Liechtenstein, Acemex Management Company Limited was created as a means of
survival. It grew into a business model, has been described as the work of a
genius and has proved enduring.
A new Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald investigation
reveals the network of hidden shell companies and secretive jurisdictions that
allowed Fidel and Raúl Castro and now their military successors to borrow money
and to buy, sell and charter the ships that bring in chemicals, fuel and
construction supplies needed to build the growing tourism sector and export
The new investigation sheds light on little-known Acemex and the key players surrounding it — a pair of powerful Cuban brothers not named Fidel and Raúl, but Guillermo Faustino Rodriguez López-Calleja and hisyounger sibling Luis Alberto. The latter is a brigadier generalblacklisted by the United States in 2020.