The rank-and-file need to know

HAVANA — Francisco Rodríguez, Paquito From Cuba, a journalist for the weekly Trabajadores, is a militant member of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC). Making use of that status, he expressed — first in the bosom of his party nucleus — his unconformity with the procedure being followed on the eve of the PCC’s Seventh Congress.

First, he published in his much-visited blog the opinions he had expressed at the rank-and-file meetings of his party. Later, he wrote to President Raúl Castro, who is the PCC’s First Secretary, asking for a postponement of the Party Congress (scheduled for April 16-19) until June.

The gist of his unconformity (which is not his alone) is that the documents that will be analyzed in the PCC’s most important gathering have not been shown to — or been subjected to discussion among — the nuclei of the party members in the various work centers or the rest of the citizenry.

Apparently, the rank-and-file membership has participated only in the selection of the 1,000-and-some delegates who will attend the Congress. They will be told about the documents and will debate them.

“I see no reason to hasten a political process so decisive for the future of the nation if its preparation has not ripened sufficiently,” the journalist wrote in his blog.

An article published March 27 in the daily Granma can be assumed to be a response to the concerns of that party member, as well as general information for the readers.

From the point of view of the Party, the reaction of Paquito and those who think like him is not banal. What are the cupola and the intermediate levels of any political organization without the rank-and-file? Aren’t real life, the daily activities, and the experience of reality important to the rank-and-file precisely because they are an important part (though not the only one) of the constant development of the social fabric and its components?

A militant should be the bodily, touchable image of the organization, its spokesman, capable of explaining and responding to the concerns and questions of any of us. Information, dialogue, participation and knowledge are not just a shield against any enemy; they help to secure commitments and links, which is something very desirable for those who work hard to reduce the distance between the institutions and the people.

We should always bear in mind that we are facing a new scenario, one that is extremely complex, subtle, delicate, political, ideological and media-conscious.

President Obama did not come to Cuba just before the Party Congress to influence the internal dynamics of the PCC, as I indicated right after his visit was announced. No, his popular statements and the contents of his speech — excellent, in their points of view and objectives — were directed at the key sectors of our society, now in the process of transformation. It’s our efforts to renovate and the actors (the citizenry) on the stage of a new dynamics that Washington hopes to influence.

This Congress is extremely important, not only because it will be the last for several members of the historical generation but also because among its topics is an analysis of the compliance with the Guidelines approved in the previous Congress, where the emphasis was on the actualization of the economic model.

It so happens that only 21 percent of those Guidelines have been implemented over a 5-year period. The rest, according to the daily Granma, are in the process of implementation, and 2 percent (five guidelines) “have not been carried out for various reasons.” One wonders how long we will have to wait for the remaining 77 percent.

If the Guidelines are the engine for the take-off and change toward an economy that will achieve a minimal stability and solidity, what internal factors have slowed down what requires a greater agility with a minimum or risks? Without haste and without pause, okay. The gradualness of the process is understandable because I don’t wish a collapse or an implosion of the evolving system, but 21 percent of 100 percent — why?

Just like our revolutionary process was the result of a chain of uninterrupted actions, the actualization or systemic reform is a result of the uninterrupted continuation of that process. A process that stops seeks to cling to formulas that have been overtaken by reality. To cling to old formulas would mean paralysis at the edge of an abyss.

We must bear in mind that the intentions of the enemies of any liberating project (intentions that are not new except in the means to accomplish them) are twofold: one, precisely a return to the old schemes, overtaken by life because they are obsolete; two, an insistence on making the changes go beyond what is convenient, necessary and reasonable.

But it is essential to continue, and with greater agility, the transformations that depend on us (which are plenty); otherwise, we could fall into an “ambush,” with a diminished popular support. Therein lies the importance of the Congress, where we would have to analyze the changing surroundings of our region, a Congress of great importance for the formulation of policies. 

It is easy to think that the documents to be debated will contain explanations, analyses, debates and arguments to which the Party’s political rank-and-file can (and should) contribute. They are close to the conflicts and confluences; they are an integral part of both. They are the equivalent of a tree’s roots, which — if dug deep — strengthen a healthy trunk.

I pause at this point and expand on it.

The “mystery” of the success or failure of politics, no matter what the system, lies primarily in the economic bases, the centers of production. It is there where the great battle is decided. And I wonder if the PCC nuclei in our industries ever read the documents. The obvious answer is no. Paquito’s nucleus is not the only one.

It so happens that one of the topics, one of great importance to us, will be the conceptualization of the Cuban economic model, wherein will be defined the depth and flexibility of the economic project. I opine that the views of the productive rank-and-file, be they militant or not, can contribute to the debate and enrich it. They are the actors, the first line in the daily battlefront for production, productivity, efficacy and a life without so many burdens.

Furthermore, on our streets, at the bus stops, farmers’ markets, public services, etc., we Cubans carry out a daily debate commenting on the situation, sometimes through words, sometimes with the eloquence of a gesture. The nation is there, on the street, in the people and in the daily struggle.

As a Cuban, I share the opinion of thousands of compatriots who have wished that the documents for this all-important party gathering had been made available for the consideration of everyone, militants and not militants, as has happened on previous occasions. The people’s participation will always be indispensable.