Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Translation: Raul's unpublished Congress remarks

During the opening session of the Sixth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) in April, Raul Castro delivered the Main Report on behalf of the PCC Central Committee. 

As can be seen in the official telecast of the Congress proceedings, at several points during his address he departed from the prepared script. Some of these parenthetical comments are noteworthy, in my opinion, for their importance, candour and clarity.

Since these additional comments do not form part of the official report adopted by the Congress, they do not appear in either the Spanish text of the Main Report or the official English translation of this document.

Here are my translations of a selection of these comments, taken from YouTube clips of the telecast in Spanish. To give context for each of these comments, I've prefaced them with an extract of the preceding text of the official English translation of the Main Report.

In the first of Raul's remarks below he hammers home his determination to demand the implementation of the Congress decisions. In the second, he touches on the distortion of Lenin's conception of the complementary but distinct roles of the revolutionary party and the socialist state it leads in the Soviet Union after Lenin's death. 

In the third, he makes an explicit reference to the predominance of "the dominant class", the working class, in the highest body of the Cuban state, the National Assembly of People's Power. In the final comment, he urges delegates to not raise their hands mechanically "without knowing what you're voting for", alluding to the fact that this has often happened in the past. 

Raul Castro: selected unpublished remarks during Main Report to Sixth PCC Congress

Marce Cameron


[W]e feel it is advisable to remember the orientation included by comrade Fidel in his Central Report to the First Party Congress, nearly 36 years ago, about the Economy Management System that we intended to introduce back then and failed due to our lack of systematization, control and discipline. 

He said "… that the Party leaders but foremost the State leaders turn its implementation into a personal undertaking and a matter of honor as they grow more aware of its crucial importance and the need to make every effort to apply it consistently, always under the leadership of the National Commission created to that end…,” and he concluded: “…to widely disseminate information on the system, its principles and mechanisms through a kind of literature within reach of the masses so that the workers can master the issue. The success of the system will largely depend on the workers' knowledge of the issue.”


I won’t tire of repeating to you from this podium what you’ve heard me say on various occasions: that in this country, in this Revolution, almost all, if not all, of the most important things have already been said. So I say little, and I’ll continue saying little. [Long pause] But, in line with the responsibilities that the people have conferred on me through their National Assembly and the Party Congress, I will simply demand that my orders and orientations be carried out according to the directives of the corresponding leading bodies. [Prolonged applause]
(Source: YouTube clip 15 minutes 02 seconds)


The first thing we should do to correct a mistake is to consciously admit it in its full dimension but the fact is that, although from the early years of the Revolution Fidel made a clear distinction between the roles of the Party and the State, we were inconsistent in the follow-up of his instructions and simply improvised under the pressure of emergencies. 

There can be no better example than what the leader of the Revolution said as early as March 26, 1962, by radio and television, explaining to the people the methods and functioning of the Organizaciones Revolucionarias Integradas (ORI), which preceded the Party. He said “…the Party leads, it leads through the entire Party and it leads through the public administration. An official must have authority. A minister must have authority; a manager must have authority and discuss as much as necessary with the Advising Technical Council (today, the Board of Directors), discuss with the working masses, discuss with the Party cell, but it is the manager who makes the decision, because it is his responsibility…” This orientation dates back 49 years.

There are very well defined concepts that, in substance, remain completely valid regardless of the time that has passed since Lenin formulated them, almost 100 years ago, and they should be taken up again, bearing in mind the characteristics and experiences of our country.


...since Lenin formulated them, almost 100 years ago, with absolute clarity. If in the years following his death all of this was distorted, we’re not obliged to copy these errors. We have to think with our own heads and come to our own conclusions about this. Because the characteristics of no two countries are identical. In our own small country, you yourselves are exceptional witnesses to the fact that in many ways, each province is distinct from the others, though naturally the law applies equally throughout the country.
(Source: as above, 35:59)


In 1973, dur
ing the preparations of the First Party Congress, it was defined that the Party must lead and supervise with its own ways and means, which are different from the ways, means and resources available to the State for exercising its authority. The Party’s guidelines, resolutions and provisions are not legally binding for all citizens; it is the Party members who should abide by them as their conscience dictates since there is no apparatus to force or coerce them into complying. This is a major difference about the role and methods of the Party and the State. 


... Because the state has its [National Assembly], where an expression of the dominant class [i.e. the working class] predominates. So it elaborates its laws for the benefit of the dominant class. And when someone doesn’t comply with these laws, the police take them to the courts where they face a prosecutor, and the accused are tried, judged and condemned; then the police come along and take them to prison.
(Source: as above, 38:46 )


Comrades, the idea is to forever relieve the Party of activities completely alien to its nature as a political organization; in short, to get rid of managing activities and to have each one do what they are meant to do.


... This is easy to say. Now we’ll see how this fight goes, how we wage this struggle. Fraternal struggles, let’s be clear. Naturally, those of us who agree with this here [gesturing to his speech notes] think we’re going to win. And when I say “with this here”, this depends on you approving it. If you don’t, so be it. We’ll discuss it democratically and in depth, as we’ve already done in part [i.e. during the pre-Congress debate]. And I’d like to point out in this departure from the text of the official report – which was approved by dozens and dozens of compaƱeros, including the Central Committee – the responsibility that we have, the thousand delegates here, above all for this document that we’re going to adopt. Don’t raise your hands mechanically without knowing what you’re voting for. I don’t defend this or that idea. I orient, I advise you to think, and to always get to the bottom of things, [beyond] the superficial.
(Source: YouTube clip 3:02) 

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