Cuba, slowly but steadily

Wednesday 3 April 2013

All the versions of this article: [English] [Español] [Português]

Authorship: Leonardo Padura.

Editorial and Canal: IPS - Metas del Milenio.

Type of document: Article.

Language: Spanish.

Theme: Politics.

Keywords: Economy, Government, Foreign investment, Politics.

Countries and Regions: Cuba.

Description: Position column by Leonardo Padura, Cuban writer and journalist, awarded with the National Literature Award 2012.

See the article on the direct link.

Since the beginning of the change process in Cuba, started under the government headed by General Raúl Castro, several modifications in the solid economic and social structure have taken place aimed at reaching to a final goal: pull out of the economic lethargy the island, to try to turn efficient a productive scheme which, stranded in its contradictions, controls and contradictions was leaking all over.

After the announcement of the government will of introducing “structural and conceptual changes” able to “update” the model, on the occasion of the last Congress of the Communist Party (2011), the only and ruling party in the country, a document was adopted under the title “Guidelines for the Cuban economic and social policy”, stating the transformations to take place in present years and in the immediate future.

The aim of this programmatic document, very precise in some lines but a little vaguer in others, is to set a course and establish commitments for the minor and important moves they attempt to make.

Raul Castro has, in several opportunities, facing claims or criticism on the fact that the rhythm of the changes is proving to be too slow for a country facing social and economic problems ranging from the highest super structure and the macro economy to the most complex daily life of the citizens, reacted saying that the compass of the transformations will be done according to a well meditated plan to avoid committing new mistakes. A tempo he has called “slowly but steadily”.

In a recent opportunity, the Vice President of the Council of State and of Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel, ratified on his statements to the press something the President has already announced.

If up to now the economic and social transformation have merely been slight (or perhaps not so slight) steps in the production relations, regarding ownership and in the civic rights (revamping private labor, creating agricultural and worker cooperatives, giving land in usufruct or the transcendent migratory reform allowing travelling to a large majority), changes that are to take place along these years will affect more deeply the essential structures of the system.

To say it using his own words: “We have moved forward in what was more simple, in the solutions demanding less depth in decision making and in the implementation and now we left with more important aspects, more decisive for the future development on the country and also more complex ones ".

What is really intriguing is that none of the leaders specify which will be these modifications, in which areas and how deep they will be. They support their answer by saying that everything is programmed in the so mentioned “Guidelines… ".

But something of an international transcendental importance has fallen as a weight in the scale used for decision making in Cuba.

The passing away of the Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, main political support and commercial partner for Cuba through exchanges supported by bilateral and regional agreements – those of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), is, without any doubt, an element that Havana should not take too lightly.

If, as analysis expect, Nicolás Maduro, the political heir of Chávez wins the Presidency in the next coming Venezuelan elections, Cuba will get an important respite, based on the promises made by Maduro regarding the island and the fidelity he shall preserve to the thinking and commitments made by Chavez.

But something that is crystal clear for everyone is that without the physical presence of Chavez, the internal situation in that country might get complicated in many forms and the close relation with the Caribbean island, at least in the economic sphere, might suffer eventual alterations due to unforeseeable complications in the Venezuelan domestic reality.

For sure this new juncture should have been taken into consideration by the Cuban government, regardless of the political statements or even the silence kept. And that circumstance for sure will exert some influence on the internal change rhythm.

The delicate economic situation in the county is claiming for efficiency, investment (including, of course, that of the foreign capital), new redefinitions in productive relations, an updating in the state and private use of new technologies.

While the complex social warp, so different from the one existing in the beginning of 1990 (when the deep crisis was unleashed by the disappearance of the Soviet Union, the political and commercial partner upon whom Cuba was depending at that time) compels one to a bigger realism and dynamic in the process followed, taking into consideration that a notable percentage of the Cuban population is formed by a youth with ideas and perspectives quite different and also that a lot of people has been struggling for over 20 years for their survival, with low salaries and objective problems of all sort.

Has the time come for a shortening of the pauses and to foster haste? Is it the time for citizens to know about the future they have to face with these deepen and complex transformations, which could define the destiny of the country, and for sure, of their own lives? It seems so.

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