Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Translation: An opinion on the Cuban press

To carry through the urgent renovation of Cuba's socialist project, Cuba's revolutionaries must harness the untapped potential of the country's mass communications media as a tool for socialist construction. An excellent summary of the achievements and challenges is the following commentary by Felipe de J. Perez Cruz, President of the National Association of Historians in Havana. 

This commentary is insightful not only because of its in-depth analysis of the Cuban media in relation to the renewal process, but because it touches on the reasons why Soviet Stalinism crumbled at the beginning of the 1990s. The Cuban view, or views, of this process and its underlying causes should be of interest to socialists everywhere. 

In the opinion of de J. Perez Cruz, "The more the counterrevolutionary process that led to the disappearance of the USSR and the socialist bloc is studied, the more we convince ourselves that its triumph was not in the dismantling and disqualification of history, politics and the socialist society in themselves, but in how the machinery of imperialist ideological subversion coordinated its attack on the objective weaknesses — subjectivised at the level of consciousness and mass social psychology — that really did exist in the party and the bureaucratic system, in the privileges of the governing elite, and in the unsatisfied demands [of the masses]. This includes the bombastic and apologetic press that characterized the communications policy of self-proclaimed 'real socialism'."

The Spanish original is accompanied by footnotes to references, which I've included in the translation for those that read Spanish.   

An opinion on the Cuban press

By Felipe de J. Perez Cruz, President, National Association of Historians, Havana website, June 6, 2011

Translation: Marce Cameron
In Cuba today, two dissimilar political processes are taking place simultaneously. The Sixth Communist Party (PCC) Congress continues in the working out of how to implement the [Economic and Social Policy] Guidelines approved in every sector and work collective. The recent 8th Plenum of the National Committee of the Cuban Journalists Union (UPEC) resolved to "overcome mediocrity, boring and tedious practices that contribute nothing and achieve an acute, enjoyable, investigative, analytical and critical journalism."[1]  

The Plenum brought journalists together to participate in a profound discussion of the problems and responsibilities of the sector during the preparatory process for the PCC National Conference called for January 28. I think this is an excellent proposal if it is accompanied by a fluid interaction with what society thinks and demands.       

The Cuban press

Our press has the merit of being truthful, of never lying. It's a noble press in an international journalistic context in which, with few exceptions, falsity and manipulation seem the norm. This is a privilege we enjoy, and it's not a gift of good fortune: it's due to the work and the ethics of the professionals and workers of this sector.      

The men and women of journalism maintained the vitality of the country's main media outlets in the most difficult and complex moments of the [post-Soviet] economic crisis when there was a lack of paper, the technology suffered from lack of spare parts and investment and fuel shortages meant that we only had brief periods of electrical supply. Back then the revolutionary press called for unity and resistance, a journalism that emulated the dispatches of war correspondents writing from the trenches. The numbers of pages and print runs of newspapers and magazines were reduced and a good part of the sector was absorbed by agriculture, production and defence.

The Revolution has always paid special attention to the sphere of information, its professionals and workers. It never ceased training the next generation of journalists and communicators in the seven university faculties that teach these courses nationwide, and as soon as the country began to leave behind the depths of the crisis sustained investments were made in the technological basis of the sector. The national computerisation programs gave priority to this sector, to the editorial collectives and to individual journalists. The technological base of the journalism sector is substantially superior to that of specialists in the education, science and economic sectors.

The training of a sector of professionals and workers with a revolutionary tradition, sustained commitment, a proven ability to overcome gigantic technological difficulties — in which new generations have emerged that in principle must be better educated than the preceding generations, and that have been privileged in recent years with solid investments in the sector — should be highly positive. However, the reality is that if our press does indeed maintain its undeniable revolutionary values, every day the people and the PCC leadership become more dissatisfied with majority of the publications and journalists. I agree with the self-criticism of UPEC president Tubal Paez when he says that in general, our journalism lacks elegance, ingenuity, charm, grace, spark, humour and ideas that fascinate, attract and engage.[2]      

The demands for improvement

The demands for the transformation of the press to bring it closer to reality, for it to be more analytical, more proactive and to reflect in a more objective and balanced way what is really happening in the country are not new. Commander in Chief Fidel Castro insisted on the need for a press in the spirit of Marti and Lenin, on various occasions, in meetings with journalists, in congresses and PCC analyses.          

Now the demand for a quality and effective press has been placed on the order of the day with the proposals of Comrade Raul Castro, first PCC secretary and president of our country. In the Main Report to the Sixth PCC Congress held April 16-19, Raul called on the media to leave behind, definitively, the habit of triumphalism and shrillness in addressing the national reality. The First Party Secretary urged journalists to create works that through their content and style capture attention and stimulate discussion.          

Nobody doubts the decisive role that the revolutionary press is called upon to play through clarification and objective dissemination, constant and critical, in the building of socialism. The press is indispensable in the development of socialist political culture, the culture of accountability, of debate and informed dialogue. It is above all a collective educator and must do this without sterile didacticism, respecting the intelligence of the superior social being forged by the Revolution. 

The evaluation of objective and above all subjective difficulties is well advanced. It's inconceivable that most of the time journalists have difficulty accessing information in a timely manner, in the face of insurmountable functionaries who violate the right of the people to be informed, and that blockade the free exercise of the social mission of revolutionary journalism. For no few compañeros of the sector, the lack of communication and information explains the dissemination of material that is sometimes boring, improvised or superficial.

There's no point repeating the speeches of Fidel and Raul on these and other themes, and that the cadres who are directly responsible refuse to comply with or obstruct in practice the will and the political orientation of the country's leadership, its democratic essence and the responsibility it holds. In the opinion of Tubal Paez, they have a negative influence when it comes to old styles and methods which must be eradicated, and that to some extent discourage very good professional desires.[3]

These problems weigh heavily on the sector and its results, but the question in my opinion is not reduced to the matter of cadres with misguided attitudes, functionaries that refuse [to comply with the PCC leadership's directives] and bureaucrats that blockade or obstruct.

I think it's very easy to find a culprit in the visibility and the responsibility of a functionary. Our socialist democracy is conceived, designed and constitutionally empowered so that those who are led, decide: a manager can do things or undo them to the extent they are permitted to do so by their administrative and/or political subordinates and by their revolutionary [i.e. PCC or communist youth organisation, the UJC] base committees.

We know that voluntarism and authoritarian styles of leadership have their complement in the philosophy of avoiding problems and accommodating to what is easy, evils that in recent years have contaminated the spheres of work and intellectual activity. And if the press suffers from boredom, it's because some of the professionals and workers that must transform it have conformed and accommodated to the worst schemas of inertia. "The good journalist", says Tubal Paez, "cannot be obliged by anyone to be boring, greasy, mediocre, superficial or careless in what they do, unless they really are such a person".[4]

The decisions of the PCC on information policy cannot continue to be flouted, and this cannot be resolved by Raul and the comrades in the Party leadership. This is a political and ideological struggle in the heart of the press work collectives, in every one of the newspapers, magazines and news programmes. This is the arena of a revolutionary struggle, of exigency and education of the management councils [of the publications], the cells and committees of the PCC and the UJC, of the trade union and the base associations of the UPEC.        

Looking within

It's my view that in the face of these obstacles the press publications and their professional
staff have achieved varied results. In general we don't see evidence of the sector "looking within" and the reason for this lack of introspection. I've observed how sectors of public opinion — in the capital and other provinces — see as exceptional those newspapers, magazines and news programmes that do satisfy their expectations. We have in the national and regional publications compañeros who are singled out by the people for their solid work. These are very experienced journalists, but there is no lack of good examples among the new and very new promotions who have recently graduated from the universities.

Public opinion sees a difference between the dynamism and quality of radio journalism compared with that of the other media. There are TV channels with news shows of notable quality and an excellent use of local talent. There are newspapers and news programmes that have been able to multiply, via the possibilities of the internet, what they offer their audiences, but it seems to me that with similar technological and professional potential the majority maintain a pale and minimal web presence. The impact of various personal blogs of companeros from the press is known, but many others languish in cyberspace due to lack of new content. Fortunately other sectors of Cuban society, in particular university students, are in the vanguard of a vigorous movement of revolutionary bloggers.              

The general appeals and criticisms don't do justice to those who, despite the obstacles, march in the vanguard. Specifying with knowledge and arguments what is done well promotes the discipline of quality and appeals to the conscience of the revolutionaries.     

Faced with the polarised results that we see, we need to know what those who are directly involved think and do. The views of Tubal Paez that I quoted were published widely in the Cuban press. Without doubt they express a serious self-criticism [of the Cuban press] that incites controversial debate. I waited for several days to read the commentaries and positions that would be expressed by the compañeros of the press in response, but at the time of writing my expectations have not been met. Must we wait for what is said and agreed to in the assemblies of the UPEC? Why not express them in the press itself, in response to such strident criticism as that made by the president of this organisation?   

The need to boost the professionalism and knowledge of our journalists has been stressed, but such a formulation does not satisfy the breadth of the questions which, for those of us outside the profession, flow from the deficiencies of journalistic work, the handling of information, the domination of one or another journalistic genre and the indispensable work of specialised journalism.     

I think that the imbalance that many of us perceive between the quantity and quality of the international information compared with the national is not explained solely by the existence of a certain policy of information priority. What's also lacking is knowledge and the study of the Cuban reality and, above all, journalistic styles hat are as bureaucratic or more so than the bureaucrats themselves. There are no few examples of facile and worse schematics.

The coverage of activities generally concentrates on what those who preside over an event say, quoting what they said in their opening or closing remarks, photos or film footage are taken of this person and then some more photos or a pan from the ground up and this is where the job of the journalist ends, who then hurriedly moves on to another "newsworthy" event. What really happens, what the ordinary protagonists say and do, are unimportant.

The journalists who cover the opening and the conclusion, who follow the chiefs and not the people who make history, solve everything by expanding on a quote from what the person in charge said. Before their eyes is the marvel of the news in which its protagonists aren't seen. Since they "don't have time" to stay and participate in the event, they alienate us from what is most valuable, which is the pulse of the concrete subjects of the event, their sentiments, ideas and contributions. Such a superficial view impedes the practice of a journalism of opinion that weighs up what transpires and takes sides. This weak praxis also has it unavoidable consequences of professional impoverishment, whether desired or not, of those that practice such schematic styles of journalism.

I know of news coverage in which the journalist arrives on the scene without having even the remotest idea of what took place. The argument that they were sent by their editors without knowing what they were going to cover speaks volumes not only of the irresponsibility of these editors; it also has as its counterpart the individual ethic of accountability and respect that every professional should ask of themselves.

The journalist that follows the scent of reality, that discovers and broaches themes, that investigates and with shield on arm emulates those who battle giants, is a rare species, almost extinct. Could this be solely due to the work schedule, cluttered with tasks already drawn up in detail? Does it have something to do with this or that editorial line? 

Specialised journalism doesn't dig deep enough. We ask ourselves why the sports journalists exercise criticism — of both merit as well as mistakes and nonconformism — of the National Institute of Sports and its directors, of the director of a provincial agency, a baseball team, about the performance of this or that technical team, yet rarely is the same done in relation to public health, education, the economy and the material output of an entity, with a minister, the director of a hospital, a school or a factory.    

Sports journalism is not without room for improvement, but the first thing that meets the eye is the high level of professionalism of the majority of companeros involved, from the esteemed veterans to the novices. They know what they're talking about and can discuss with the sport's managers and specialists what they disagree on. Do their journalistic colleagues in other sectors and branches have this training and this willingness to debate which we're so grateful for?   

Undoubtedly, a personal rapport and frequent contact with the cadres and specialists responsible for this or that issue is vital. Even more indispensable may be individual study, self-preparation, a systematic reading of the topic in question. The broad general knowledge and cultural level of the journalist, independently of what they report on, is a requirement that must be continually developed, and those most responsible for this are the journalists themselves.  

Almost the same

I'm convinced that if tomorrow the problems of bureaucratic control were resolved, and if there were access to and communication with the heads of entities, cadres and functionaries, we'd still be very far from the revolutionary press that we need. It would be better informed by the state and government institutions, but it would lack the decisive vision and the rich contradiction of civil society.      

Raul Castro and the PCC leadership's insistence, in the process of the Sixth PCC Congress, on considering the value of each and every one of the opinions expressed [in the public debates] confirms a willingness of socialist democracy that was unknown in the practice of the communist parties that came to power in Europe and Asia in the 20th century, whose tradition was centred on a schematic overestimation of the collective viewpoint — essentially that of the state and the party — over individual opinion. How can we express and develop the right that has been conquered, our freedom as subjects in and of the Revolution, if we do not take this participatory path traced out by the Sixth Congress? Such a profound and decisive party praxis is an invitation to reflection and a change of mentality. It's an essential key for theoretical debate and the perspective for how to do our journalism.

When is the press going to pay attention to the need to privilege in its work the intelligence, experience and the empirical evidence of our humble and wise citizens? Who can affirm that in Cuba everyone agrees or that we go along with the responses or approaches of the managers and those responsible for this or that entity or state or government agency? When are the disagreements and debates within the revolutionary camp going to emerge in the media?         

Is the press not interested in the precise data that our workers, technicians and economists have about the problems of production and the economy, the data and the statistics produced by science and that aren't necessarily incorporated into the official statistics, the qualitative studies, the projections about the beautiful realities that we have, and also the spots and ugly growths that we suffer?   

When are our journalists going to facilitate — or better, lead — a series of debates and critiques that go to the heart of society without us having sufficient spaces to inform, specify, clarify, agree and rectify? Why lose the press as a public square for our self-education in the socialist morality and civility of saying and sharing what we think?

Faced with indolence and silence, I'm among those who prefer to share an appraisal, to convince or be convinced of an erroneous or imprecise judgement. I know that this preference is shared by many companeros, as revealed in the success of participation and its acceptance in the Granma letters to the editor pages [initiated in early 2008].    

Real dangers

The Cuban press faces not only constructive and educative tasks. Daily, almost hourly, our society is bombarded by the gigantic machinery of global capitalist propaganda. In the chinks of our deficiencies, in the constant misrepresentation of the reality of the country, campaigns aimed directly at subverting us politically, culturally and ideologically are armed, which also aim to discredit the revolutionary project, fracture international solidarity and isolate us.     

The dangers we confront in the ideological, political and cultural struggle are real and to underestimate them would be unpardonable and irresponsible. Today and for a long time to come, the noble mission of journalism will be a substantial part — unavoidably — of the ideological arm wrestling between the enemy [news] services which try to impose an agenda of lies, and our revolutionary press. They impose on us a media war, psychological aggression and their dirty work [i.e. subversive activities sponsored by the US government]. And the Revolution cannot be too naive in the face of such powerful and heartless enemies.

I understand the justified protective measures we must take, and I'm aware of the fair concern of many compañeros. However the need to defend the spiritual life of Cubans does not justify closing ourselves off from the necessary changes; it imposes precisely the need to carry through these changes as a key part of the strategy for victory. We have to explain, reassure and demonstrate the strength we possess, and therein lie the opportunities for the Revolution to prevail in the press and in all spheres.            

The reality of a besieged fortress leads to the "siege" mentality, and this is precisely the fear that the most intelligent architects of the anti-Cuban aggression try to turn to their advantage, those who talk of combining the continuity of the military-economic pressure — hard power — with building bridges, of subversion and ideological-cultural penetration: "soft power". 

We walk a path, if we're talking about the press, that is unprecedented in the building of socialism. The historical experiences in this regard, in the countries that have attempted revolutionary socialist processes, have only definitively marked out the extremes: bureaucratic control of the press or a liberal opening that is essentially anti-socialist and counterrevolutionary.    

What immediately comes to mind is the painful experience of so-called glasnost — transparency — in the context of the process of treachery [to the socialist cause] that the Soviet rectification or perestroika became. This is a reference point that shows  us the capacity for ideological-cultural dismantling that the subversive agencies — the CIA and its emulators within the so-called intelligence community of the US and NATO — and its methods of coordination and multiplication of the gigantic propagandistic machinery of transnational imperialism.        

It's not enough to appreciate the results of the irresponsibility and political adventurism of the Soviet leadership at the close of the 20th century. The key problem, of practical value, is to reveal the source of imperialism's effectiveness in the 1980s, after the persistent failures of its sieges and aggression during the 1970s. 

The more the counterrevolutionary process that led to the disappearance of the USSR and the socialist bloc is studied, the more we convince ourselves that its triumph was not in the dismantling and disqualification of history, politics and the socialist society in themselves, but in how the machinery of imperialist ideological subversion coordinated its attack on the objective weaknesses — subjectivised at the level of consciousness and mass social psychology — that really did exist in the party and the bureaucratic system, in the privileges of the governing elite, and in the unsatisfied demands [of the masses]. This includes the bombastic and apologetic press that characterised the communications policy of self-proclaimed "real socialism".

With regard to weaknesses and threats, we have to identify our differences, as long as we also acknowledge our strengths and opportunities. In contrast with the Soviet experience, the course of the Cuban Revolution during the final decade of the last century and its arrival in the present century corresponds to a very different objective situation and political-moral setting.          

Cuban realities

Cuba understood in time — even before perestroika emerged on the scene in the Soviet Union and raised hopes — the need to initiate its rectification of errors and negative tendencies, to criticise and resolve the most serious problems, above all ideological, that were incubating themselves via the mechanical copying of the model that was already deteriorating in the USSR. As we know, not everything was resolved. We lacked time for the maturation, through decisive transformations, of many of the things we objected to, but the fundamental principle of carrying out necessary and possible changes within socialism [i.e. the socialist-oriented society — translator's note] was firmly established.

The impacts and consequences of the economic crisis and the stepping up of the policy of blockade and subversion by the US government reinforced old problems and created new conflicts, yet despite this we were able to save the Revolution. The line of march decided on by the 1991 Fourth PCC Congress and ratified by the Fifth Congress in 1997 allowed for the preservation of socialism and its principal conquests, made possible by the massive support of all patriots, of the immense majority of the population.  

The area of the class struggle in Cuba today is the most complex that it has had to confront in the revolutionary process of the past half century. The weaknesses are connected to the old and yet-to-be-overcome, as well as to "the new" and not necessarily progressive that has been incorporated from the deterioration suffered [during the post-Soviet Special Period — translator's note] and the growth of market relations. The weaknesses include organisational and political expressions of the Soviet model that urge the negation of dialectics, with manifestations of the social conduct, morality and bourgeois corruption inherent in the capitalist mode of production, whose existence we will never conform to.   

Those who entrench themselves in the siege mentality — and worse, those who cower full of pessimism — do not understand that in serenely reading the complexity of the conjuncture they begin the defense and the offensive struggle of revolutionary ideology and politics. The Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution approved by the Sixth PCC Congress confirm this.  

In the mature Revolution that we have today there are sufficient strengths to deepen the rectifications and advances needed by the economy, society and the press that we're attending to without giving ground to bourgeois ideology and imperialism. The Revolution has multiplied ethics and the revolutionary spirit of the nation in terms of knowledge and culture. The Cubans of today have given — and offer daily — proof of their wisdom cultivated by revolutionary politics. This reality constitutes and characterises the revolutionary social being and is the most solid bulwark of socialism.

The struggle for ideological-cultural hegemony — well defined by Antonio Gramsci — is a pedagogical relation between the class contenders, and we can take up this challenge fully. We have enough leadership experience and clear ideas. Fidel made it clear half a century ago the breadth and the limits of the ideological struggle in Cuba: "Within the Revolution everything, against the Revolution, nothing."[5]   

Within the Revolution, not all of us react and think with the certainty that is needed in each moment. Those who don't agree with us on certain policies, those who are confused by hyper-criticism and ultraleft revolutionism, the pessimists, those deceived by enemy propaganda, must always be treated with respect, attention, persuasion and education. The directors and functionaries who are sickened with voluntarism, authoritarian and sterile centralism, the bureaucrats who obstruct are also our compañeros, and we can't forget this. There is still much harmful intolerance among us and, ultimately, the Revolution doesn't make us angels but men and women amid different visions, interests, contradictions, mistakes, successes, partial mistakes and partial successes. 

What is against the Revolution, no matter how hidden it may be, surfaces sooner or later.
The antisocial nature of administrative corruption is not resistant to debate. The thief hidden in the leadership structures and in the bureaucracy is nothing more than a delinquent. The leap to the counterrevolution has no ethical justification, it lacks the most minimal historical or cultural awareness. The reduced fauna of anti-patriots, anexationists and mercenaries on the payroll of imperialism confirm, in their nauseating nature, the reality that I affirm: we face a battlefield that we know well, against individualism, egoism and treachery. A terrain that has has always been disputed and where in each moment we've been able to achieve victory.      

The press has much to offer in the creation of new spaces for pedagogical revolutionary construction, for ideological combat, counter-propaganda and the denunciation of the anti-Cuban campaigns and operations. I for one am fully confident of the capacity of the communications media professionals and workers to be and do what the needs of the revolutionary struggle in Cuba demand. It would be unjust not to recognise those who have insisted on doing this for a long time, and those who break the inertia and the barriers to join this struggle.

Footnotes [as in the Spanish text]

[1] Resolución final del VIII Pleno del Comité Nacional de la UPEC,, Lunes, 23 de mayo de 2011

[2] Miguel Torres Barbá: Frente al espejo: la prensa apuesta por ser más atractiva, AIN, Viernes, 13 de Mayo de 2011.

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Fidel Castro Ruz: Palabras a los Intelectuales, 30 de junio de 1961

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Translation: Guidelines debate 11, Foreign investment

Here is Part 11 of my translation of the booklet Information on the results of the Debate on the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines for the Party and the Revolution, an explanatory document published together with the final version of the Guidelines adopted by the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) Congress in April. 

Cuba, like the Soviet Union under Lenin and Trotsky's leadership in the early 1920s, seeks foreign investment to complement the large-scale investments carried out by the socialist state. Foreign investment became more important following the collapse of the Soviet bloc at the beginning of the 1990s, which accounted for 85% of Cuba's foreign trade. In 1995, Cuba modified its laws to encourage foreign investment, allowing for the possibility of 100% foreign ownership. In practice the Cuban state has maintained a controlling share in joint ventures with foreign investors with the option of buying out the foreign partner.

While the economic integration of Cuba and Venezuela during the past decade is hugely beneficial to both countries' socialist projects, Cuba cannot do without foreign capitalist investment because it lacks the necessary investment funds, advanced technology, access to the world market and modern management techniques monopolised by the transnational corporations. Much of Cuba's productive infrastructure dates from the Soviet era and is both antiquated and dilapidated. Cuba must engage with capitalist corporations on its own terms, learn from them and assimilate advanced productive and managerial techniques. 

Examples are tourism, where Cuba has learned to run a modern tourism industry thanks to partnerships with hotel management firms such as Spain's Sol Melia; nickel mining and processing, via a joint venture with Canada's Sherritt International; and the three-way partnership between Venezuela, Cuba and a French telecommunications firm to lay the fibre optic cable connecting Cuba and Venezuela. What makes foreign investment in Cuba different to that in capitalist Third World countries is that Cuba's working people have state power. Transnational corporations exploit Cuban workers — this is the source of their profits from joint-venture enterprises — but workers in such enterprises earn higher wages and enjoy better working conditions than other Cuban workers, and foreign investments are evaluated on the basis of their contribution to Cuba's socialist-oriented economic development. 

This is a glaring contrast with foreign investment in, for example, the garment sweatshops in neighbouring Haiti owned by US corporations or the industrial assembly plants along the US-Mexican border known as maquiladoras, in which the workforce is super-exploited in Dickensian conditions. The "Special Development Zones" projected in the guidelines should not be read as a euphemism for sweatshops a la China or Haiti, but as concentrations of export-oriented industries developed with the participation of foreign capital in which workers enjoy the same or better pay and conditions as other Cuban workers. In capitalist societies "the national interest" is a euphemism for the interests of the capitalist class as a whole. In Cuba, where the parasitic bourgeoisie was expropriated in the 1960s, the national interest is identical with the class interests of the working people.     

The format is as follows: number and text of the draft guideline, followed by the text and number of the corresponding guideline approved by the Communist Party Congress, followed by the drafting commission's explanation for the change. You'll find it easiest to read on my blog where the amended guidelines are in bold.

Debts and credit

Boost the process of reordering external debts with short, medium and long-term maturity that affect the functioning of the national economy. Design and apply strategies for flexible reordering for debt payment and conclude these processes in the shortest possible time-frame, to allow for a growing and sustained economic performance that opens up new sources of financing. (Maintained as guideline 92)

86. Ensure that the commitments entered into in the debt reordering process are strictly complied with. (Maintained as guideline 93)

87. Ensure that external financing is included in the National Economic Plan and that it does not lead to the deterioration of the external financial situation of the country. (Maintained as guideline 94)

88. Establish a policy for the coordination of new credits and their rational use, as well as for the management and control of the country's levels of indebtedness. Revise the existing regulations and issue new ones with the aim of guaranteeing compliance with policy. (Maintained as guideline 95)

Foreign investment

89. Continue promoting the participation of foreign capital to complement national investment, in activities in the national interest, in correspondence with medium and long term economic and social development plans.

Continue promoting the participation of foreign capital to complement national investment, in activities in the national interest, in correspondence with short, medium and long-term economic and social development plans. (96)

Incorporates the reference to "short term", 67 opinions in 11 provinces.

90. Ensure that the soliciting of foreign investment fulfills diverse objectives, such as: access to advanced technologies, management techniques, the diversification and growth of export markets, import substitution, the contribution of external financing in the medium and long term to the construction of the productive objective and/or working capital for its functioning.

Ensure that the soliciting of foreign investment fulfils diverse objectives, such as: access to advanced technologies, management techniques, the diversification and growth of export markets, import substitution, the contribution of external financing in the medium and long term to the construction of the productive objective and/or working capital for its functioning, as well as providing new sources of employment. (97)

Adds the final phrase, since foreign investment is also a source of employment.

91. Improve the regulations and procedures of evaluation, approval and implementation of the participation of foreign investment. Rigorous control will be established over the fulfillment of the regulations, procedures and commitments contracted by the foreign partner which constitute the International Economic Association [i.e. the agreement signed with the foreign partner].

Improve the regulations and procedures of evaluation, approval and implementation of the participation of foreign investment, making the process more agile. Rigorous control will be established over the fulfillment of the regulations, procedures and commitments contracted by the foreign partner which constitute any of the foreign investment modalities. (98)

Includes the reference to the agility of the process, given the reiterated deficiencies submitted and recognised in 183 opinions nationwide, and substitutes "International Economic Association" for "any of the foreign investment modalities", since this the most appropriate term from the legal point of view.

92. A time limit must be established for those mixed enterprises or international economic associations agreed to that do not become established in the anticipated time frame, and a decision made on their fate, avoiding the indefinite consumption of resources and their increased inefficiency.

Establish a time limit for the modalities of foreign investment agreed to that do not become established in the anticipated time frame and decide on their fate, avoiding the indefinite consumption of resources and their increased inefficiency. (99) 

Substitutes "international economic association" for "modalities of foreign investment", since this is the most appropriate term from the legal point of view.

93. Promote, through the establishment of a International Economic Association, the capturing of higher incomes for the country in addition to salaries, taxes and dividends, through the delivery of various services and supplies by national enterprises. 

Promote, through the establishment of a foreign investment in the country, in any of its modalities, the capturing of higher incomes for the country in addition to salaries, taxes and dividends, through the delivery of various services and supplies by national enterprises. (100)

Clarifies the wording, substituting the term "any of the modalities of foreign investment" for "International Economic Association", as the latter is more legally appropriate.

94. Favour, in the process of promoting investments, the diversification of the participation of investors from different countries. (Maintained as guideline 101)

95. Elaborate and constantly update a portfolio of investments for possible negotiation with foreign participation. (Maintained as guideline 102)

96. Promote the creation of Special Development Zones that allow for increased exportation, the effective substitution of imports, high tech projects and local development; and that create new sources of employment. (Maintained as guideline 103)

97. Ensure that the economic activity of the international economic associations corresponds with that projected in the National Economic Plan. (Maintained as guideline 104) 

98. Evaluate the existing associations with foreign capital and update them as necessary, in such a way that they are adjusted to the requirements of the country. (Maintained as guideline 105)

99. Analyse, among the possibilities for financing via foreign investment, those non-export industries which are nevertheless indispensable to ensuring other production essential for the economy or for the substitution of imports. (106)

100. Promote, only if economically justified and convenient, the establishment of enterprises and alliances outside the country that allow Cuba to better position its interests in foreign markets. (107)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Translation: Max Lesnik dialogue with youth 2

Here is Part 2 of my translation of an interesting exchange between Max Lesnik, a Cuban-born journalist who lives in Miami, and Cuban students from La Joven Cuba website. Part 1 is here. Note that this is an abridged translation of the Spanish transcript due to its length. Gaps in the translation are indicated with ellipses (...).

Why include Lesnik's views in a blog about Cuba's socialist renewal, you may ask? For two reasons, one of which has to do with the weight of US-Cuba relations in the present and future of the Cuban Revolution and the importance of the Cuban-American constituency in influencing these relations. The other has to do with something US ecologist, Marxist and Cuba solidarity activist Richard Levins touched on in an email he sent me recently, from which I'll quote a few lines:

"I am particularly interested in the question of how revolutionaries outside of Cuba can contribute to the Cuban process beyond the obvious defence of Cuba against all forms of aggression and support for particular programs such as in health and education, and in educating people in our own countries about Cuba. People everywhere look at the world from a particular viewpoint, which includes powerful insights and blindnesses. For instance, Cubans are dealing with their economy from the vantage point of urgency, and urgency tends to narrow the time and scope horizons. Foreign revolutionaries are more likely to have broad horizons that undervalue urgency and the measures to meet urgent needs, but more likely to worry about the "collateral damage" to the revolution and long term consequences of measures that encourage individual businesses or expand inequality. Foreigners have been particularly helpful in combating homophobia and racism. Immersed in a neo-liberal environment, we can more readily pick up when Cuban economists use the vocabularies of bourgeois economics such as "price distortion", "efficiency" and "competitiveness". In one sense, the Cuban revolution belongs to the Cubans to solve their problems and make their own decisions. But it also belongs to all of us. We could be helpful, but especially if we look at both our own and Cubans' typical errors from the vantage point of solidarity."

I agree, and I'd add that those who view things sympathetically from the outside can sometimes see things more clearly than those at the coal face. Whether the content is interpersonal relations, political struggles or the expanding frontiers of scientific knowledge, different vantage points round out the picture. Cuban revolutionaries can benefit from seeing things from your "vantage point of solidarity", as Dick Levins puts it, or mine or Max Lesnik's, just as we can benefit from seeing things from theirs.

By the way, here's a link to Levins' terrific commentary How to Visit a Socialist Country, which is all about Cuba, socialism, ecology, dialectics, democracy, solidarity and much else. The kind of thing I like to contemplate on a Sunday morning with a freshly brewed coffee at arm's reach and a small dog snoozing on my lap.

Max Lesnik: dialogue with Cuban youth, Part 2

La Joven Cuba (The Cuban Youth) website, May 11, 2011

Translation: Marce Cameron

Joven Cuba: What are, in your judgement, the key dangers threatening the Cuban Revolution?

Max Lesnik: Fidel has already referred to this. The great danger is that within the revolution, there could be a break with ethical principles. Every revolution has a morality. One cannot be a revolutionary and live a dishonest personal life, it has to be lived austerely. The great challenge is how to maintain an uncontaminated life despite the necessities. There are people in this country that do things to make a living that don't correspond with the ethics of the revolution. For me the great challenge is to remain incorruptible, that others "resolve" [i.e. turn to the black market to make ends meet], as it is said, but that those who aspire to lead the country are as honourable and as clean as those they're going to replace.

Those who are going to replace them will replace them, the calendar is unforgiving, the lives of the current leaders could evidently last years longer into their old age but in terms of their ability to function [as leaders] we're talking about three or four years, no more. This is the challenge, we're not talking about a timeframe of 20 years, the physical or practical disappearance is going to be immediate and there must be young people capable of replacing them.

The relay of the revolution is undoubtedly the greatest of the challenges, a question that confronts every Cuban today. From outside Cuba they say that Cuba is led by the historicos, Raul, Fidel, that there aren't any youth. They ignore the fact that the youth exist. Above all they make this criticism.

There's the problem of the low profile of the principal cadres of the country in the various provinces. Some do good work in their regions, others not so good. These days the Cuban people need to know a lot more about these leaders. Here there's a kind of curtain. Once when I was in Havana a policeman stopped me, I was travelling by car. After checking my license I asked him if he knew the name of the national police chief. He said he only remembered Salas Canizares under Batista and Efigenio Amejeriras just after the revolution. This police officer didn't know the name of the current chief of police.

There's a need, in one way or another, for the political leadership of the country to take into account that beyond Fidel, Raul, Ricardo Alarcon and the better known leaders, the party and other political leaders should have a higher profile. So that the people know if they do bad things or good things, and if they do good things then their merits should be acknowledged.

JC: What do you think about Cuban journalism at present and what are the challenges ahead?

Well, there are three journalists here (referring to those present). The journalism done in Cuba today is, first of all, very boring, and this has nothing to do with the ideological line of the [Communist Party] Central Committee via the ideological department. I think that apart from maintaining the political presence of the single party and defending the revolution against its enemies, information policy could be more strategic.

In my opinion the column that's most read in Cuba is that of Ciro Bianchi Ross [in Juventud Rebelde]. Why? Because it's a good read, it doesn't fall into the counterrevolution but says things everyone wants to hear about history. On TV, what's the most-seen programme? Pasaje a lo Desconocido [Journey into the Unknown] and now the one hosted by Amaury. Pasaje a lo Desconocido, by Taladrid, is not about politics and now there's the one by Amaury.

Journalism can be lively, vibrant, entertaining, political-historical analysis that doesn't rub the ideological department up the wrong way. Why aren't there other things in the pages of Granma or Juventud Rebelde? They can offer other things to the public.

Why the success of the magazine Bohemia, the old one for which I wrote? The editor of Bohemia is a friend of mine and they don't let him do more. It's a publication that must be rescued. In my time you could buy the Friday edition of the magazine on the street, we're taking about a country of seven million people at the time and 300,000 copies were sold on the street, if you do the maths there wasn't a Cuban that didn't in some way enjoy the magazine. Those who couldn't read looked at the pictures and called out to others to ask them what was written there.

There was a section of the paper dedicated to national politics where all the secrets of political life were told. Commentaries could be written by intellectuals from the centre, the left, [bourgeois liberal] Jorge Manach and [pro-Moscow Popular Socialist Party leader] Carlos Rafael Rodriguez and a good part of the intellectuals of the time. It was a leading publication. It had the horoscope for those who believe in the stars, it had jokes, cartoons, stories by Marcelo Salinas, it had everything it needed to and was many Cuba's entertainment from Friday to Monday.

I ask: why does TV have to be so boring? Why can't there be a higher quality Bohemia magazine? Why can't there be a more lively journalism?

The answer lies in the young journalists. At this point we're not going to convince an old journalist who's banging on and on about the same thing that he has to change his style. This is the task of the young journalists. If they reject the article and this goes on the record, at some point this will be the justification for why it wasn't published.

JC: In our country we're trying to construct a more just socialist society, where the fruits of work are distributed as equitably as possible and giving to each according to their efforts. Now, our country is a poor country, with limited natural resources and suffering a cruel economic blockade. All this makes the task of minimising inequalities, and of providing a quality of life to the people that is acceptable in terms of our principles and commitments, a titanic one. How can our country insert itself into such a cruel and exclusive global economy without ceding one iota of our sovereignty? What role can the ALBA [Bolivarian Alliance for Our America] countries play in this? Could we be more active in ALBA?

Max: I think that the Cuban economy in its first [revolutionary] period went from traditional capitalism, that of free enterprise with all the defects that go with it, to a state-centric model that in my opinion is not really the socialism we aspire too. It's state capitalism and the objective is socialism. It's not about replacing the capitalist exploiters with a state that doesn't aim to exploit but that cannot encompass everything. What does a take-away food stand have to do with socialism?

In an emergency situation the state assumed not only the management of the big enterprises, the basics that there was always an aspiration for the state to manage to allow the country to progress, if you can call progress expropriating the hairdressers, barbers, boot cleaners. I'm not going to talk about whether this was done well or poorly, I agree with the 1968 offensive [that expropriated Cuba's urban small businesses], here you couldn't allow puppets with capitalist heads because they were a means to divide the revolution.

Now, today the dangers are different and for this reason I believe that the state must drop everything it can't run efficiently. [...] The revolution is strong enough to drop things it can't run. The revolution is much more important than worrying about the development of a minor entity where someone is looking to steal four pesos but one has to be vigilant and send in an inspector, then find another inspector to watch over the first inspector, and so on until you end up with a bureaucracy that only results in inefficiency. 

JC: One of the themes that comes up most frequently to demonstrate the supposed lack of freedoms in Cuba is the prohibition on Cubans travelling outside the country freely. What do you think are the motives behind the country taking such a decision? What's understood then by freedom to travel, the formal declaration that one can do so or the actual of possibility of travel?

OK, I think the white card [i.e. the Cuban exit permit] is something they should have got rid of some time ago. Every Cuban ... if I were the government and I gave them a permit that would be a symbolic passport, and told them they could apply for a visa to visit any country in the world, and when they grant it they take your passport and you're going to travel, permanently or temporarily, what would happen?

The consulates aren't going to give the visa, and these days Cubans say they can't travel because the government doesn't give them the white card, in reality if they were granted one neither the Peruvian nor the Argentinean nor the Chilean consulates are going to grant a visa simply because they have no reason to, because it's one more immigrant and they don't want this, which is why I think the white card is obsolete, because the difficulty is in obtaining the visa.

You know that in Miami, among the Cubans that have arrived there are dozens that want to return and now they can't do so. They believed in the story of the American dream and the American dream doesn't exist. The Cubans here [in Cuba] known that 10% of the Cuban population lives outside the country but also 10% of Mexicans and of the populations of many other countries. Cubans aren't the only ones who emigrate. The white card does more harm to the Cuban government, to the revolution, the supposed travel prohibition than allowing anyone the right to travel.

S/he who leaves here and sees the troubled and brutal world that surrounds us is going to return here and is going to embrace this country that is theirs, regardless of the difficulties they may have here because the problems elsewhere are worse, because there is no solidarity.

Here if you're sick your neighbour takes you to the hospital, it's true that over there there are ambulances to bring you but your neighbour doesn't care. That solidarity is here and it has always been. I see no reason to delay the disappearance of the white card, and I tell you that I don't know why the state maintains it, honestly I don't know. There were reasons before, today there aren't. Why? If you say: all Cubans can apply for their passport and travel with such and such exceptions, because its neither honest nor fair that they pay for a youth to graduate as a doctor and then they ask for the white card to leave the country with their certificate in their pocket and earn in the US or somewhere else $300,000 or $400,000 a year when the Cuban state spent something comparable on their training.

They must set up, in my opinion, mechanisms that require someone [with a professional qualification] to work in the country for at least ten years. Today it's a common practice to study medicine, go on [an international cooperation] mission and in less than six months [quit the mission] and remain there. There are exceptions, doctors, engineers, armed forces personnel. They cannot leave Cuba just because they want to. [...]

JC: Many go off in pursuit of the American dream, the problem is that you have to be asleep to believe in it.

Max: Claro, this is the problem.


JC: Let's say that tomorrow they allowed Cubans who live outside the country and that haven't participated in actions against the revolution to be able to have private businesses on the island. Would this benefit the national economy and the people in general? Would it be fair for those Cubans who have remained loyal to the revolution for all these years?

There was a debate about this in the National Assembly. A brother of [former Council of Ministers executive secretary] Carlos Lage said that Cuban-Americans couldn't invest in the country. Alfredo Guevara responded by saying that they can't be excluded and everyone agreed. If you are a counterrevolutionary they're not going to allow you to come and invest here, but the majority of Cubans, who do not have a counterrevolutionary position, are allowed under Cuban law [but not US law given the US blockade — translator's note] to invest here. Though they'd come from outside the country to invest, their Cuban origin is no limitation, of course the investment will only be allowed if the country considers it necessary for its development.

They're not excluded because they were born in Cuba, you're a Cuban of foreign nationality who can invest, the state views you the same way they view a Galician, you were born in Cuba but you don't come here to invest as a Cuban because then we'd have two classes of Cubans, those who are here, yourselves, and those who left in search of greener pastures, made money and now come here as foreigners to invest in Cuba, there wouldn't be a veto simply on the basis of origin, this is what the current Cuban law stipulates.

I know Cubans in Miami that have invested here, despite their status as foreigners.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Translation: Max Lesnik dialogue with Cuban youth

Max Lesnik was born in Cuba in 1930 and participated in the overthrow of the Batista dictatorship, serving as a head of clandestine operations in Havana. In 1961, disenchanted with Cuba's growing ties with the Soviet Union, he left Cuba for Miami in a small boat with other former guerrillas. Yet rather than join the Miami-based counterrevolution, Lesnik established an independent magazine that published the views of the Revolution's supporters as well as those of its critics, and has been director of the progressive Radio Miami for the past three decades. He has repeatedly called for an end to the US economic blockade of the island and opposes terrorists acts against Cuba.

In 2007, Cuba's state council awarded Lesnik with the Felix Elmuza journalism award on the recommendation of the Cuban Journalists Union. At the award ceremony Cuban National Assembly president Ricardo Alarcon said: "Max’s life has been not only one of dignity against money, as Eduardo Chibas always proclaimed, but also that of dignity in the face of terror, lies and C-4 explosives on the streets of Miami". 

This year Lesnik held a dialogue with pro-Revolution Cuban youth from the website La Joven Cuba (The Cuban Youth) run by students from the University of Matanzas in central Cuba. Below is a slightly abridged version of the first part of the transcript. 
Max Lesnik: dialogue with Cuban youth 

La Joven Cuba (The Cuban Youth) website, May 11, 2011

Translation: Marce Cameron 

Some months ago the members of La Joven Cuba took advantage of the opportunity to talk with Max Lesnik, a Cuban journalist based in the US. During the meeting our guest kindly responded to our questions. This is not an attempt at an interview, it's just a transcript of a meeting between Cubans of different generations.

Joven Cuba: You suffered the intolerance of the political right in Miami when you founded the magazine Replica in the 1970s. Some say that this is all in the past and that these times are different, citing as examples Radio Miami and the program of Edmundo Garcia and Francisco Aruca La tarde se mueve. Do you think that times have changed now and that there can be such a thing as free journalism regarding Cuba in Miami?

Max: All times are different and it depends on the circumstances. Replica came to the fore as a magazine in the style of [the Cuban current affairs magazine] Bohemia as it was in the early days of the struggle against the corrupt Authentic Party and Batista governments. It was a magazine that offered all sectors of the Cuban population of Miami such things as entertainment, crosswords, astrology and all those things that you have in a general magazine, and in terms of politics we gave space to all the sectors, right, left, centre. There was nothing stopping people saying what they thought.

But it wasn't enough for the right that we gave them a space in which to express their opinions. The right wanted the magazine to reflect their own views, and as the magazine was prepared to give space to those who didn't think like us but was not prepared to renounce the independence that we had established as a goal and an objective, the right began its harassment, bombs, assassination attempts, all this, to be clear, with the protection of the US authorities at the level of the Miami police force, at the level of the county police and the federal apparatus. They looked the other way and allowed them to place 11 bombs in the offices of Replica, and by intimidating the advertisers and the distribution points (there were more than 800 shops that sold the magazine), through terrorism they managed to strangle the magazine.

Well now, the question is, has this changed?

The thinking of that extreme right hasn't changed, it hasn't changed. What's happening is that right now and for some years they haven't had the support for these terrorist activities, neither from the police nor the FBI, quite simply terrorism became a bad word because of the US campaign [i.e. the "war on terror"] internationally, so bombs in Miami cannot go off with impunity. Why? Because this is a contradiction, you can't combat supposed terrorists in the US itself while at the same time protecting active terrorists. Nevertheless the non-active terrorists Orlando Bosch and Posada Carriles enjoy full freedom and are the heroes of the right, tolerated by this US government, the previous one and the next one because they are its terrorists.

Now, to start bombing things again now is another question. If they wanted to kill Max Lesnik, in those days they tried to do it, today they don't because they can't, in other words: the circumstances with regard to the mentality of the extreme right are the same, they can't do it because they don't have allies to do it, also because of the incursions [into Cuba] to carry out terrorist activities, which they did with the awareness and support of the US authorities. They cannot do this today, that is to say the terrorists cannot come [to Cuba] now, what remains is the possibility of Posada Carriles doing it from Central America. 

To summarise, the mentality of the extreme right hasn't changed, [but] they cannot carry out terrorist acts because their great ally and protector is the US government and they don't allow it.

JC: In an interview with [Havana-based Cuban journalist] Luis Baez you said: "The socialist revolution that I wanted wasn't that of a single party but pluralist, not so radical. But looking back, I'd say now in retrospect that that revolution to which I aspired, were I leading it, the US would have defeated it." Would you say then that the Cuban Revolution wouldn't have survived if it hadn't opted for the single party? Don't you think that the process of consultations with the population that Raul [Castro] has initiated can be considered pluralism, about the economic model to be implemented, and that this has been the historic practice of the Revolution?

Max: I've answered the first question. In circumstances of harassment by the US, the most powerful nation in the world, and I didn't see it like this but Fidel did, the single party, which is nothing more than taking the model of Jose Marti and the Cuban Revolutionary Party that was the sole party, in which there were all the currents from Don Tomas Estrada Palma, the president [from 1902] who was a puppet of the Americans through to Balino who was a Marxist. It was a party of national unity, this was the task, to liberate Cuba from the Spanish colony without falling [into disunity], as Marti wrote to Mercado in his letter: "It has had to be kept quiet, because there are things that in order to achieve them one has to keep them hidden, to proclaim them would be to cause difficulties that are too considerable."

When I say that at that time I didn't support the single party, the party existed, it was open to all [revolutionary] sectors, this is true.

There was that prejudice that held us back in the democratic era, and we didn't see real danger in the intentions of the US which were to prevent the revolution consolidating. This is what I told Luis Baez. Why would the US have defeated me and not Fidel?

Because Fidel had the vision to realise that no cracks can be left for the enemy, the US, which was the true enemy, not the Cuban puppets, to organise counterrevolutionary groups as they began to do, which endangered the revolution. The single party of Marti and that of the 1960s, which is when [the counterrevolutionary subversion] began, was an indispensable necessity, and if I had been the leader of the process and not Fidel, guided by this democratic instinct I would have given an opportunity to the enemy, which wasn't national [but foreign-inspired] despite how I viewed it with this [abstract democratic] mentality.

When the revolution established itself the enemy wasn't the Liberal party, nor the Authentic party, it was and is the US will all its power and force, concentrated on bringing down the revolution. At the time I was wrong, and I'm not going to pretend otherwise, they would have overthrown me like they overthrew [Salvador] Allende [in Chile], they killed him, because Allende also believed that it was possible to coexist with the traditional parties in his country and this was his ruin.

I say honestly, consider me to be a Cuban representative of Allende's thinking that didn't want to crush his enemies, Fidel just understood the game and he crushed them. Fidel won.

JC: Why do you think that despite the millions of dollars coming from the US, they haven't been able to achieve the creation of an effective and credible opposition inside Cuba?

Max: The are two explanations. 

First, because the revolution permeated very deeply and despite the fact that there are many discontented Cubans, to go from this to the counterrevolution because you have to queue for bread, because the butter doesn't arrive, means to no longer believe in the principles they taught you that the revolution is that, the essence of [Jose] Marti in our own times. This is one of the reasons, the solidity of the revolution and its depth. 

Second, the Amercians are used to paying for their armies, don't forget that [George] Washington's army received its salaries every month and when they lacked funds, here in Havana, the rich senoras made a collection and paid Washington's army, that is to say the American patriots, and it pains me to call them that because their mentality was that if I'm a soldier then to liberate my country I need a salary. This is not the Cuban tradition, Cespedes didn't pay his soldiers, nor did Maximo Gomez or Maceo pay theirs, nor did those that struggled against [the] Machado [dictatorship in the 1930s] received money to carry out the revolution against him, nor did the supporters of Guiteras receive money from Cuban Youth for the struggle, nor did any of the groups involved in the revolution against Batista, the July 26 Movement or this or that party, receive a single centavo. 

What happened with the counterrevolution is that from 1959, when the Americans organised the first groups, they paid them via the CIA, this continued, the dissidents continue to receive money from the CIA. [...]

In other words, the dissidents are mercenaries and not everyone is willing to stop being a critic of aspects of the revolution to become a counterrevolutionary, which involves payment of money. The answer to your question is Cuban patriotism and the stupidity of the US policy based on the principle that if you pay someone they carry out your orders. They don't want an indigenous, independent opposition, critical of the [Cuban] government for logical reasons that have to do with differences in thinking. They want paid lackeys so that they obey, so a real dissidence is impossible, to cross the line from a critical position to the dissidence implies a betrayal of principles.

JC: In your opinion, what are the principle challenges facing Cuban youth?

Max: The challenge is very great because it involves inheriting not only the principles but the conduct and the spirit of sacrifice of the Centenary Generation [i.e. Fidel's generation of Cuban revolutionaries] to which I am honoured to belong. I think there are people that possess these qualities, and there are also opportunists. The difference between my generation [of Cuban youth] and that of the present is that the stature of the leaders of the revolution has been so very great that sometimes it's hard to find this in the new generation, don't forget that we still hold to the principle that those who lead us are our guide. That, I repeat, is a great challenge, the vocation of sacrifice. Above all the willingness to give an opinion on the basis that if an opinion is honest it must be respected. I believe that your generation, that to a certain degree has the prejudice that speaking aloud may play into the hands of the enemy, silences criticisms that should be expressed, and I'm sure that in the high leadership of the country they aren't going to feel offended because they have sufficient intelligence to realise when a position that may not be the official line is put forward with the aim of improving the revolution.

The great challenge is taking the decision to go forward under your own steam, without being afraid of what people may say.

[Translation to be continued]

Monday, June 20, 2011

Translation: Guidelines debate 10, Foreign trade

If you like Cuba's Socialist Renewal you may like to check out a new page, Support this blog, with suggestions for various ways you can promote and support this solidarity project.  

Here is Part 9 of my translation of the booklet Information on the results of the Debate on the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines for the Party and the Revolution, an explanatory document published together with the final version of the Guidelines adopted by the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) Congress in April.

Please note that I omitted two new guidelines, No. 70 and 71, in my translation of the guidelines on pricing policy. Apologies for this translation error. I've amended the post to include them.

The format is as follows: number and text of the draft guideline, followed by the text and number of the corresponding guideline approved by the Communist Party Congress, followed by the drafting commission's explanation for the change. You'll find it easiest to read on my blog where the amended guidelines are in bold. 

Many of the changes incorporated into the final draft of the Guidelines are aimed at clarifying and simplifying the wording so that non-specialists can understand what is meant. 

External economic policy

General guidelines

May Day parade through Havana's Plaza de la Revolucion
64. Guarantee the integral application of the trade, fiscal, credit, tariff, labour and other policies to ensure the results anticipated in the sphere of Cuban foreign trade in terms of developing exports and effective import substitution, in the shortest possible time-frame. (Maintained as guideline 72)

65. Work with maximum rigour to improve the credibility of the country in its international economic relations, via the strict fulfillment of contractual obligations. (Maintained as guideline 73)  

66. Continue giving maximum attention to the ethical conduct and technical preparation of the cadres responsible for promoting the international economic interests of the country, and propitiate the decentralisation of decision-making in the enterprise sector, as well as improving the economic, financial, technical and legal preparation of the various negotiating teams and groups.

Continue giving maximum attention to the selection and oversight of the cadres responsible for promoting the international economic interests of the country, especially with regard to their ethical conduct and technical preparation. Improve the economic, financial, technical and legal preparation of the various negotiating teams and groups. (74)

Includes the issues of oversight and the selection of cadres and functionaries, together with their preparation. That related to decentralisation is eliminated, given that this is already taken up in the guidelines on the economic management model. In response to 229 opinions nationwide.   

67. Observe the principle that "s/he who decides does not negotiate" in all of the country's activities in the sphere of international economic relations. (Maintained as guideline 75) 

Foreign trade   

68. Increase and consolidate incomes from the export of goods and services, for which it will be necessary to resolve all of the internal factors that are currently obstacles to exportation. Create a real interest in exportation at the national level, and substantiate the most important and strategic decisions on the basis of objective and up-to-date studies of the market.      

Increase and consolidate incomes from the export of goods and services, for which it will be necessary to resolve all of the internal factors that are currently obstacles to exportation. Create a real export vocation at all levels, and substantiate the most important and strategic decisions on the basis of objective and up-to-date studies of the market. (76)

Adds the expression "export vocation" at all levels to emphasise the orientation of the guideline, given 112 opinions in 12 provinces.

69. Diversify the destinations of exportable goods and services, as well as maintaining the priority and attention given to the country's principle trading partners, and achieve greater stability in incomes derived from exports. (Maintained as guideline 77)

70. Diversify the structure of exports of goods and services, with a preference for those of greater added value and technological content. (Maintained as guideline 78)

71. Broaden and consolidate the mechanisms for setting export prices as a means to protect and promote incomes from the international commercialisation of nickel, sugar, petroleum, food, coffee, cacao and other products that can be exported.

Broaden and consolidate the mechanisms for protecting the prices of products that are listed on international stock markets and that Cuba commercialises (nickel, sugar, petroleum, food, coffee etc.) as a means to safeguard the planned levels of prices. (79)

Improves the wording to clarify doubts expressed, 33 in 9 provinces.

72. Develop an integral strategy for the export of services, in particular professional services, including the establishment of an adequate legal framework and efficient commercial structures capable of promoting associations with foreign capital, to guarantee the optimum utilisation of the potential created by the country.       

Develop an integral strategy for the export of services, in particular professional services, that prioritises the sale of technological projects or solutions, and study the more flexible contracting of individual workers. Include the establishment of an adequate legal framework and efficient commercial structures capable of promoting associations with foreign capital, to guarantee the optimum utilisation of the potential created by the country. (80)        

Improves the wording, taking into consideration the proposals put forward, and incorporates the study of making more flexible the contracting of individual workers. In response to 253 opinions in 15 provinces.

73. Prioritise, in the export of professional services, the sale of projects or technological solutions involving the contracting of individual workers. Develop programs for the external commercialisation of integral solutions and software applications. (Integrated with guideline 80)  

Integrated with guideline 80 to avoid repetition.

74. Elaborate and implement a strategy to develop new markets for the export of medical services and products of the medical-pharmaceutical industry. (Maintained as guideline 81)

75. Recover and promote the export markets for seafood (lobster and prawns) and revise the current methods of commercialisation to make them more flexible. (Maintained as guideline 82)

76. Ensure, in the enterprises linked to exportation, that the goods and services destined for international markets are of the highest standards of quality.    

Work towards ensuring, in the enterprises linked to exportation, that the goods and services destined for international markets are of the highest standards of quality. (83)

Improves the wording.

77. Prioritise, in export activities, the integral assurance of the necessary resources, in all links of the value chain, to guarantee the planned levels of exports. Draw up the corresponding mechanisms to achieve this.     

Ensure the sustainability of the production cycle in the export lines and draw up the corresponding mechanisms to achieve this. (84)

Simplifies the wording of the guideline for clarity.

78. Achieve greater rationality in the management of imports through the reorganisation of the enterprises that carry out foreign trade activities, with a better allocation of product classifications to achieve an efficient utilisation of the country's purchasing power.

Achieve greater efficiency in the country's management of imports, emphasising rationality and quality, through the reorganisation of the enterprises that carry out foreign trade activities, with a better definition of product classifications to achieve an efficient utilisation of the country's purchasing power. (85)

Adds "efficiency and quality", giving greater scope to the guideline that corresponds to the need to achieve an efficient utilisation of the country's purchasing power, given 2,365 opinions nationwide.The wording is improved.

79. Increase the efficiency of the importation process, among other factors, through the development of a wholesale market and, in particular, the reorganisation of consignment activity.

Contribute to the efficiency of the importation process, among other factors, through the development of a wholesale market and, in particular, the reorganisation of consignment activity. (86)

Improves the wording for greater precision.

80. Promote an accelerated process of import substitution that ensures the maximum utilisation of the available capacity in the agricultural, industrial and human resources sectors.    

Promote an accelerated process of import substitution via mechanisms that stimulate and ensure the maximum utilisation of the available capacity in the agricultural, industrial, services and human resources sectors. (87)

Adds a reference to mechanisms that stimulate the substitution of imports. Broadens the scope of the guideline, incorporating services such as insurance and transportation, among others, in response to 10 opinions in two provinces.     

81. Work systematically, in the enterprises that import machinery and equipment, to identify local manufacturing capacities in the industrial branches that correspond to these products, and on this basis promote mutually beneficial agreements between Cuba's mechanical industry and the foreign manufacturers with which they have relations so that, through technology transfer, technical assistance and other means, the gradual substitution of imports is favoured, particularly with regard to components and spare parts. (Maintained as guideline 88)

82. Promote international industrial cooperation and complementarity accords, and modify the structure of exports to favour metallurgical products and services.

Promote international industrial cooperation and complementation accords in the industrial sector that favour exports of greater added value. (89)

Broadens the scope of the guideline to include other industrial branches, 16 opinions in four provinces.

83. Design and implement mechanisms to channel the demand for imports arising from the non-state sectors of production, and to realise the potential for export revenues.(Maintained as guideline 90)

84. Eradicate, in the entities that carry out foreign trade activities, among others, the deficiencies characterised by the lack of analysis of contractual prices and of international markets, the poor utilisation of the contractual documents involved in commercial decisions, the deficient drafting and negotiation of the clauses and fundamental specifications of contracts, the lack of oversight regarding the fulfillment of the parameters and clauses agreed to in contracts, in order to uphold the interests of the country.        

Increase the managerial efficiency of the enterprises linked to foreign trade, prioritising the correct analysis of the market and of prices in the international context, the utilisation of contractual documents, and the integral drafting and oversight of the contractual process. (91)

Modified for clarity and simplicity of wording.