Debate or discussion?

Here, there and everywhere

Last Sunday, June 12 at 7 pm, Cuba’s Caribe channel premiered the program, Cuadrando la caja (Straightening things out, in English), which intends to discuss economic issues. The format: One presenter and three panelists who in this first presentation featured: Arianne Plasencia, engineer and businesswoman (but without specifying which company, type of ownership or form of management), the Doctor of Medical Sciences and Director of the Center for Molecular Immunology Agustín Lage, and the Economist Ramón Labañino, Vice President of the Association of Economists and Accountants of Cuba (ANEC). Duration of the program: 30 minutes.

The pilot program was dedicated to questioning excessive profits in the business system. It also addressed profit sharing. It is good that programs are carried out on the subject of the Cuban economy, which is in serious condition, but:

1. Is a Sunday at 7 pm the time that corresponds to a matter of such importance, such as the economic crisis we are experiencing? It does not matter that the channel’s profile is informative, there must be more appropriate days and times.

2. The program, promoted as a space for debate, an idea reiterated several times during the broadcast… does not correspond to what happened. The show did not meet its intent, at least in this first airing.

According to the dictionary to debate is to consider something; deliberate; engage in argument by discussing opposing points; to engage in a formal discussion or argument. 

And I have seen debates on program that Cubavisión broadcasts every Sunday at the same time. There, the controversies take place where two persons offer counterpoints on the same issue. That is a debate.

In the first program of Cuadrando la caja, there were only exchanges of ideas, but controversies, I saw none.

The participating panelists obviously share the same economic vision. However, in Cuba there are numerous good economists and/or connoisseurs, like the participants, who opt for socialist development, whose nuances have generated debate, enriched the subject and opened perspectives.

Probably the fact that professionals or academics with other approaches to managing the national economy are not invited responds to the fact that the objective — which is nothing unique — is to reinforce ideas and attitudes, ignoring intelligent work, that which knows how to process diversity to reinforce your option. The uniform thought, the uniqueness, have little flight. The day to day of real, raw reality has a powerful anchor.

But I heard a worrisome fact: this year “we have a fiscal deficit of 76,000 million pesos (CUP)”, said the economist Labañino.

Well, it’s so far been a tough year, what with the hot weather, the blackouts, and even a refreshing ice-cold beer or soft drink has become difficult to find.

And speaking of beers and soft drinks, it’s precisely what I was intending to write about next, but we lost power (for about an hour this morning) and now the voltage swings wildly up and down. It’s very unstable. And I have to look out for my computer… So long.