Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Translation: Guidelines debate 22, Transport

Here is Part 22 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.

Guideline 286 was added on the basis of 13,816 opinions expressed in the public debate on the draft Guidelines. It reads: "Allow the purchase and sale of motor vehicles among individuals." For decades, only cars in private hands at the time of the 1959 revolution could be legally acquired and sold by individuals – one reason why Cuba resembles a living car museum with its fleet of 1950s Cadillacs, Buicks, Pontiacs, Chevrolets and other classics that rumble through the streets, kept on the road by the ingenuity of Cuban mechanics who graft Soviet diesel engines onto American gear boxes.

The state has a monopoly on the sale of new, imported vehicles, most of which are purchased by state entities. They have also been sold to exemplary workers (before the demise of the Soviet Union), internationalist volunteers when they return from overseas missions and outstanding sports people and artists. Cubans working overseas have been allowed to buy cars and bring them into the country. However, the resale of cars acquired after 1959 was prohibited – ownership could only be transferred to family members – which led to a thriving black market and the corruption of officials whose job it was to police this illicit trade.

On October 1, a decree law legalised the sale and purchase of all privately owned vehicles among individuals. Informal ownership can now be formalised, the policing of the old prohibitions and the resulting corruption are a thing of the past and taxes on transactions will contribute to the state's coffers. Cubans who emigrate will be able to sell their vehicles or transfer ownership to a relative rather than having them seized by the state.

The private importation of vehicles remains restricted, as is the state's selling of new cars to individuals: buyers must be able to demonstrate that they acquired the money to purchase the vehicle legally through their work, rather than through corruption, black market activities or remittances. The explanation accompanying this new guideline reaffirms that improving public transport is the Revolution's priority. 

A major renovation of Cuba's railway system is underway and Brazil is financing the construction of a large port complex at Mariel, west of Havana, that will become the island's main import-export hub.

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. At the foot of the translation you'll see the label "Guidelines". Click on this blue label to view all of the instalments of my translation of this explanatory document sequentially.

An official English translation of t
he final version of the Guidelines has just become available. It does not include the draft Guidelines for comparison, nor the explanatory notes on the additions, deletions and amendments made on the basis of the public debate in the lead-up to the PCC Congress, all of which are included in this explanatory document.

The view from a 1950s Cuban taxi
Transport policy


249. Continue the recuperation, modernisation and reorganisation of transport, with the aim of improving the quality and efficiency of the transportation service for cargo and passengers, based on the rational use of all resources, especially energy, projecting the use of the most economical.

Continue the recuperation, modernisation and reordering of land and sea transport, increasing the efficiency and quality of the services for cargo and passenger transportation, based on the most rational use of resources. (269)

Changes the word “reorganisation” for “reordering” [i.e. prioritising rail over road freight, etc. – translator’s note], which is the correct term for the process that is being carried out. That which follows the word “resources” is eliminated to aid comprehension. In response to 12,247 opinions nationwide.

250. Closely examine freight movements across the country, prioritising the use of the most efficient transport modes. In this sense, the order of priority is rail, shipping between Cuban ports and the specialised transportation enterprises.

Ensure the utilisation of the most efficient schemes and methods for each type of transport to optimise the proportion of freight moved by the various transport modes, utilising the comparative advantages of rail, shipping between Cuban ports and the specialised container transportation enterprises to develop multi-modal transport. (270)

Adds [sic] shipping transport and the use of multi-modal transport, which are included in the national Freight Assessment. Gave rise to 1,007 opinions nationwide.

251. The development of transport activity will become self-financing with the energy savings obtained as a result of the investments policy and the replacement of the fleet.

Investments will be paid for with the proceeds from investments; those related to the development of the railways and port infrastructure and their facilities will be financed, fundamentally, with energy savings and cost reductions (271)

Specifies investments in railways and ports. Gave rise to 195 opinions nationwide.

252. Increase, in overland freight transport, the involvement of the specialised fleet in total transportation, in both road transport and railways. Rail will improve its share of freight transport and will increase the returns on investments with the necessary integrality. (Incorporated into Guideline 270)

On the basis of 234 opinions nationwide.

253. Plan the expansion of the “door to door” transport mode. (Incorporated into Guideline 270)

The term “door to door” is deleted because it is not understood. In response to 472 doubts in 13 provinces and the Isle of Youth.

254. Prioritise rail transport in the programme to upgrade the road network, which requires an integration of the national investments programme and collaboration between the entities linked to construction, maintenance, utilisation and preservation.

Boost the programme for the recuperation and development of the railways within the national investment process, prioritising the upgrading and maintenance of roads and the management of roadworks to increase train speed, security, orderliness railway operations, and reduced transportation times for freight and passengers. All of this will be carried out according to the plan and real possibilities. (272)

Changes the wording to emphasise that the recuperation programme is the principal task, within which the upgrading of roads will be prioritised. In response to 4,743 opinions nationwide.

255. Organise shipping transport between Cuban ports, drawing up fixed itineraries where feasible. (Incorporated into Guideline 270)

In response to 201 opinions nationwide.

256. Develop the national merchant fleet as an important contribution to the country’s foreign trade and for the reduction of costs through freight transport charges.

Develop the merchant national fleet and the shipyards as a means of stimulating and increasing convertible currency income and savings through freight transport charges. (273)

Specifies the objective and improves the wording. Gave rise to 114 opinions in five provinces and the Isle of Youth.

257. Boost the efficiency of shipping activity on the basis of an increase in the rates charged for the unloading of ships, eliminate payments for deadfreight [i.e. charging for space booked on a ship but not utilized] and improve the utilisation of ship capacities.

Boost the efficiency of shipping activity and port operations, on the basis of the organisation of work systems that would allow for swifter processing of merchandise, including the modernisation and maintenance of port infrastructure and its facilities, as well as the dredging of the country’s principal ports. (274)

Merges draft Guidelines 257 and 258. Gave rise to 32 opinions in 4 provinces and the Isle of Youth.

258. Work towards the refurbishing and modernisation, including the dredging, where necessary, of the country’s principal ports that serve as hubs for international trade, as a means to improve shipping services and to boost the efficiency of shipping and port activity. (Incorporated into Guideline 270)

Gave rise to 87 opinions in 12 provinces and the Isle of Youth.

259. The gradual development of port infrastructure will have to depend on the availability of international financing, which will be recovered through reduced freight shipping bills and docking costs. (Maintained as Guideline 275)

260. Carry out the port infrastructure investments with the integrality that allows for greater efficiency in loading and unloading operations, reducing unnecessary storage times for containers on docks, increasing their rotation and achieving appropriate warehouse logistics.

Increase the use of containers and the efficiency of their operation, reducing storage durations and increasing their rotation with appropriate warehouse logistics. (

Refers to the use of containers, their efficiency and their link to the domestic economy. In response to 13 opinions in three provinces. 

261. Achieve an efficient investment programme for port development and in service operations at Mariel, given that this port is decisive for the recuperation of infrastructure, facilities and the capacity of port operations.

Achieve an efficient investment programme for port development in the country, in particular for Mariel port. (277)

Improves the wording. Gave rise to 67 opinions in 12 provinces.

262. Give special attention to the new schemes for the establishment of cooperatives or other formulas of social participation in passenger transport activity, that result in an increase in service quality and the ability to respond to this demand, according to the characteristics of each locality.

Encourage the drawing up of new state and non-state organisational forms for passenger and freight transport, as well as for other services linked to this activity, in accordance with the characteristics of each locality. (278)

Improves the wording and incorporates freight transport and other associated services. Gave rise to 535 opinions nationwide.

263. Rail transport will be increased and transportation times will be reduced, as will the proportion of passenger transport by bus. (Incorporated into Guideline 272)

On the basis of 1,897 opinions nationwide.

264. Organise and prioritise the provision of technical services for the maintenance and technical functioning of the means of transport, and the quality of these services, including the non-state sector. (Maintained as Guideline 279)

265. The civil aviation service for the transport of domestic and international passengers must assume a growth rate that corresponds with the numbers of tourist arrivals, tourism operations and national demand, utilising the national fleet with a higher index of occupancy.

Develop a strategy that would allow for the progressive modernisation of the national airliner fleet in the short term and for its efficient utilisation, with the aim of being able to keep up with the growth of tourism and national demand. (280)

Improves the wording.Gave rise to 173 opinions in 10 provinces.

266. Speed up and reduce passenger airport procedures and improve the quality of airport services.

Offer quality and competitive services in the country’s airport facilities, giving special attention to speeding up and simplifying procedures for passengers and the maintenance of prices and charges that are competitive in the Caribbean region. (281)

Improves and broadens the scope of the guideline. In response to 226 opinions in 10 provinces.

267. Increase air freight transportation on the basis of a better utilisation of the specialised airliner fleet, aimed primarily at providing services that bring in convertible currency income, and work on competitive offers that assist the export of Cuban products.

Increase air freight transport on the basis of a better utilisation of the capacities of the passenger and the specialised transport fleet, aimed primarily at providing better quality and more efficient services that would allow for an increase in convertible currency incomes, and work on competitive offers that assist the export of Cuban products and that lower the costs of imports through freight charges. (282)

Improves and broadens the scope of the text. Gave rise to 13 opinions in 3 provinces.

New guideline:

Give prioritised attention to urban, rural, inter-municipal and inter-provincial passenger transport, achieving stability and quality of service, assuring its sustainability [in the service provision rather than the ecological sense – translator’s note] and the gradual increase in the satisfaction of the demand, in accordance with the possibilities of the country. (283)

Included as a new guideline on the basis of 16, 875 opinions nationwide.

New guideline:

Implement new forms of payment for urban passenger transport to minimise fare evasion and the theft of fare collections. (284)

Included as a new guideline on the basis of 5,008 opinions nationwide.

New guideline:

Ensure fulfillment, with the required quality, of the programme for the repair and maintenance of the road infrastructure, in line with the economic plan and the real possibilities of the country. (285)

The repair and maintenance of roads is included as a new guideline. In response to 3,766 opinions nationwide.

New guideline:

Allow the purchase and sale of motor vehicles among individuals. (286) 

Relates to the purchase and sale, between individuals, of existing vehicles.
Does not include, for the time being, an increase in [new] vehicle sales by the state. The priority of improving public transport is maintained. This topic gave rise to 13,816 opinions.

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