Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Cuba's Socialism Now

On 1 June 2017, an extraordinary session of Cuba’s National Assembly of Peoples’ Power approved important documents which define the character, objectives and strategy of Cuban socialism into the post-Castro era. Since 2011, a programme of ‘updating’ the Cuban economic and social system has been underway, and these documents aim to establish the parameters within which those developments will take place. 

Such measures are imperative given the greater space being opened up for market relations: private ownership and business, self-employment and foreign investment. Establishing social welfare and national development priorities will be essential to prevent market forces asserting a capitalist logic over Cuban development. Raul Castro will step down as President of the Council of State in February 2018,1 and the Cuban leadership is working to strengthen the institutional basis of socialism to help safeguard its future when Cuba is no longer led by the ‘historic generation’ who carried out the Revolution.

The National Assembly is the highest decision-making body in Cuba, with half of its 614 delegates voted up from Municipal and Provincial Assemblies, and the other half representing the mass, grassroots organisations. The documents approved are: Conceptualisation of the Economic and Social Model of Cuban Socialist Development (Conceptualisation) and the Guidelines of the Social and Economic Policy of the Party and the Revolution (the Guidelines). There was also discussion about a third key document, Basis for the Plan of Economic and Social Development up till 2030: Vision of the Nation, Axes and Strategic Sectors (Plan 2030).

All three documents have been through a collective process of writing, analysis, modification and approval: consensus building practices which strengthen unity and commitment to socialist development. President Raul Castro described them as ‘the most studied, discussed and rediscussed documents in the history of the Revolution’. That is indicative of their importance.

Read the entire post from Helen Jaffe here.

Some needed context for those of us in North America can be found in another post by Helen Jaffe on the broad topic of the market economy and Che Guevara:

‘I didn’t know Che had any economic ideas’ has been a frequent reply I’ve received when telling people about the topic of my research and my book. It reflects the caricature of Guevara as a romantic guerrilla fighter with idealist notions of how human beings are motivated and how social change is brought about. The consequence is to overlook his contribution to Cuba’s economic development and socialist political economy debates and hence to lose any lessons that can be drawn from his endeavours.

It censors the complexity of economic decisions and debates within the Cuban Revolution, as if the revolutionaries who seized power on 1 January 1959 were chaotic adventurers whose economic policies were based on a naïve ideological agenda and not reflecting concrete conditions and constraints in the process of development. For example, Cuba’s incorporation into the socialist bloc’s trade relations, its continued dependence on sugar as a principal export and the importation of ‘backward’ technology from the socialist countries, are viewed as political preferences – with little recognition made of the limits placed on Cuba’s development path by the imposition of the US blockade or the denial of credit from the Western countries. It also plays into the interpretation that sees Fidel Castro as synonymous with the Revolution, so that all policies were generated by this one omnipresent individual according to his whims, psychological traits and struggle for domination.

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