Friday, January 6, 2012

Translation: PCC Conference document (1)

From January 28 the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) will hold its first National Conference. This important gathering will complement the Sixth PCC Congress, held in April, that adopted the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines

The Sixth Congress, the highest decision-making body of the PCC, focused on the "updating" of Cuba's socialist-oriented economic model and tasked the Conference with reviewing and improving the Party's methods and work style, in terms of both its internal functioning and its relationship with other revolutionary organisations and with Cuban society as a whole.

In the lead-up to the Conference the PCC leadership has submitted the following document for consideration by the Party's ordinary members or "militants". The PCC has more than 800,000 members. In addition, the PCC invited the communist youth and the mass sectoral organisations — such as the trade unions, the Federation of Cuban Women and the neighbourhood-based Committees for the Defence of the Revolution — to analyse the draft document and contribute to its refinement. 

Given that the vast majority of Cuban citizens belong to one or more of these organisations, the PCC leadership has initiated a consultation process that is open to both PCC members and non-members who are part of its broad social base. However, it appears that Cuban media coverage of these debates and the issues under discussion has been minimal in comparison to coverage of the public debates on the Guidelines. 

Comparing this draft document with a final version that will be put to the vote of Conference delegates will reveal more about the content of these debates and how they shaped the outcome of the Conference.

A few introductory comments on the PCC itself.

Article 5 of Cuba's socialist constitution, adopted by referendum in 1975, establishes the PCC's role in society as follows: 

The Communist Party of Cuba, Martían [i.e. inspired by Jose Martí] and Marxist-Leninist, organised vanguard of the Cuban nation, is the highest leading force in society and the state, organising and guiding common efforts towards the lofty goals of building socialism and progress toward a communist society.

The PCC embodies Jose Martí's dream of uniting Cuba's revolutionary vanguard in a single party, thus overcoming the divisions among revolutionaries that contributed to the failure of Cuba's 19th century independence struggles to achieve real national sovereignty.

From Lenin's ideas and example the PCC derives the notion of a voluntary, selective organisation of the most capable and committed revolutionaries; a disciplined party that combines democratic discussion and decision-making with a united approach to the implementation of party decisions; and a party based not on bureaucratic privilege and authoritarianism but on moral authority, persuasion and the power of example. 

This is the Leninist spirit in which the PCC leadership has called upon the party as a whole to rise to the new, complex and exceedingly difficult challenges posed by Cuba's socialist renewal. 

Here is the first instalment of my translation of this 97-paragraph resolution (excluding the introductory paragraphs below). Footnotes follow the text. I'm not aware of any other English translation of this document. If you know of one, please let me know.  

Cover of the Spanish version

First National Conference of the Cuban Communist Party

Draft basic document

Translation: Marce Cameron (Part 1 of translation)  

* * *

Basis of the Party


I. Functioning, methods and style of Party work

2. Political and ideological work

3. Cadre policy

4. The Party’s relations with the Union of Young Communists (UJC) and the mass organisations

*  *  *
Basis of the Party 

The Cuban Communist Party (PCC) is the legitimate fruit of the Revolution and at the same time its vanguard that ensures, together with the people, its historical continuity. Comrade Fidel Castro, Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution, set out his conception of the Party during the First PCC Congress[1] when he said:

The Party brings everything together. In it are synthesised the dreams of all the revolutionaries throughout our history; in it are concretised the ideas, the principles and the strength of the Revolution; in it our individualism disappears and we learn to think in terms of the collective. It is our educator, our teacher, our guide and our vigilant conscience when we ourselves are unable to see our errors, our defects and our limitations. In the Party we join our efforts and we make of each one of us a Spartan warrior of the most noble of causes, and together we become an invincible giant.

These concepts sum up o
ur thinking and action and guide us in our determination to build a fully free and sovereign society, as expressed in our Constitution of the Republic. 

The principles of democratic centralism, collective leadership and individual responsibility retain, a
s pillars of the Party and its structure, their full validity and underpin the will to perfect it. 

As the sole party of the Cuban nation, the Marxist, Leninist and Martían[2] Cuban Communist Party draws strength from, and has as its principal mission, the unity of all patriots and the linking up of their efforts towards the lofty objectives of building socialism, preserving the achievements of the Revolution and continuing to struggle for our dreams of justice for Cuba and for all of humanity.

1. Introduction

1.1 The National Party Conference, convened by the Sixth Party Congress[3], is tasked with evaluating the work of the organisation objectively and critically, as well as defining, with a will to renewal, the necessary transformations so that it is equal to the demands of the present circumstances.

1.2 The Main Report to the Sixth PCC Congress stated: “[...] we must reflect on the counterproductive effects of old habits that have nothing to do with the vanguard role of the organisation in society, among them the superficiality and formalism with which political-ideological work is conducted; the use of antiquated methods and terms that do not take into account the level of education of the militants; and the holding of unnecessarily long and frequent meetings that often take place during the work day, which must be considered sacred, first and foremost by the communists; meeting agendas that are often inflexible, set by the higher Party body without reflecting the concrete reality of the militants; the frequent calls to attend formal commemorative activities, with speeches that are even more formal, and the organisation of voluntary work on days off without real content nor proper coordination, generating expenditures and spreading dissatisfaction and apathy among our compañeros”.

1.3 The Sixth Congress endorsed the idea that the first thing we are obliged to modify in the life of the Party is the mentality that, as a psychological barrier, will be the most difficult thing to overcome as it is bound up with dogmas and obsolete criteria.

1.4 It is important to recognise that at different times the Party involved itself in tasks that did not correspond to it, which limited its leadership role and compromised its political and ideological work. We also have to deal with problems such as ignorance, disregard for the guiding documents of the Party and deficiencies in the exercise of the Party’s functions and powers, lack of analytical rigour and inconsistent application of the adopted policy, which prevents the Party from achieving the hoped-for results of its work.

1.5 The present challenges demand, above all, the linking up of all the means and forces at our disposal in order to strengthen the patriotic and moral unity of the people; to cultivate revolutionary values and conduct; to open up to legitimate individual and collective aspirations; and to confront prejudice and discrimination of all kinds that still persist in society.

1.6 The imperialists pin their hopes on the supposed vulnerability of the new generations and on certain groups or sectors of society. They try to foment division, apathy, discouragement, emigration and lack of confidence in the leadership of the Revolution and the Party. They try to paint us as a society without a future in order to turn back socialism and snatch away our independence and the gains of the Revolution. These intentions make it crystal clear that the sphere of ideas continues to be a decisive battlefront.

1.7 These circumstances, to which must be added the manifestations of the new interventionist policy, an aggressive policy that justifies the use of force by the US empire, make it necessary to continue to give maximum attention to defense preparations and to strengthening political-ideological work in the armed institutions.

1.8 Against this backdrop we must foster a climate of maximum confidence and create the necessary conditions at all levels for the broadest and most sincere exchange of opinions, both within the Party and in its relations with the workers and the people. This would allow the expression of diverse ideas and concepts in a framework of respect and compromise[4], such that disagreements are seen as something natural.

1.9 The Main Report to the Sixth Congress took up the errors and weaknesses in the cadre policy, referring essentially to the lack of foresight and intentionality in its handling and consistent application; the lack of rigour and vision that led to the rapid promotion of immature and inexperienced cadres; the lack of political will and of a sufficiently systematic approach to the promotion of women, blacks, mestizos[5] and youth to key leadership posts, on the basis of merit and personal qualities, as well as deficiencies in the selection and preparation of a reserve of cadres.

1.10 Lack of foresight, irresponsibility and sluggishness in the search for solutions to the disparate problems that have to be dealt with on a daily basis can be seen in the 
work style of no few cadres, as well as lack of creativity; poor links with the masses; lack of a demanding attitude in the face of violations and indiscipline; and bureaucratic methods of leadership and the consequent loss of authority and exemplariness due to negative, on occasion corrupt, attitudes. 

1.11 Priority must be given to targeted, direct, person-to-person work, and to the role of the mass media in political and ideological work; to tackling deficiencies in the training of Party militants and to the deterioration of certain fundamental values as revealed in their conduct, together with the insufficient utilisation of the various educational means at the Party's disposal.

1.12 On the other hand, the population that the Party interacts with is older and more heterogeneous. Today's youth did not experience the old capitalist society and have only known the exceptional conditions of the Special Period. The majority of them have an elevated educational and cultural level and are better trained politically, so communication with this generation must be more creative, systematic and targeted.

1.13 The Party must step up its efforts to confront the causes and conditions that favour instances of social misconduct, illegalities, corruption and other crimes, phenomena which — together with bureaucratism and negligence — undermine the foundations of our society.

1.14 A review of the concepts and work methods of the Party in its relations with the Union of Young Communists (UJC) and the mass organisations is also an objective of this Conference.

1.15 Given the role played by the UJC and the mass organisations, and their present and future importance, the Party’s attention to these organisations must be redoubled. At times, the Party’s methods in this regard have been paternalistic and the relationship has been one of Party tutelage; at other times we have incorrectly assigned them shared tasks and functions that do not correspond to them. In this regard, it is reaffirmed that the Party must exercise its leadership role on the basis of respect for their democratic and autonomous functioning.

1.16 In evaluating the work of these organisations, it is evident that it was distorted and that work at the grassroots level ceased to be prioritised. The participation of these organisation's  cadres in an excessive number of commissions and meetings limited their work at the grassroots. To this must be added the lack of creativity and a systematic approach to the carrying out of their responsibilities, and excessive calls on members to participate in activities at the expense of their free time, to the annoyance of the population.

1.17 The opinions and proposals arising from this consultation will enrich the draft document, which will be submitted for consideration of the National Conference, after which an implementation process will be drawn up with the aim of improving the Party’s work and making it more effective.

[Translation to be continued]

Translator's footnotes:

] The First PCC Congress was held in 1975 

[2] Meaning: inspired by Jose Martí, a leader of Cuba’s 19th century independence struggles and an initiator of the pro-independence Cuban Revolutionary Party in 1892.

[3] Held in April 2011

[4] "Commitment" is an alternative, and also equally plausible, translation of compromiso here 

[5] Mestizo: a person of "mixed race"

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