Communications minister and Comandante de la Revolucion Ramiro Valdes spoke about the economy recently; here’s La Jornada’s coverage from Havana correspondent Gerardo Arreola.
The first thing that comes to mind about Mr. Valdes, who is also a former interior minister, is this fishing story (translation at end):
¿DONDE ESTÁN LOS PECES GRANDES?
Fidel va a pescar con Ramiro Valdés, el Jefe de Seguridad de Estado. Tira el anzuelo y después de un rato saca un pecesito chiquito.
Muy molesto le dice a Ramiro:
-Encárgate de esto, Ramiro.
Y se ve a Ramiro cuando coge el pececito y le entra a puñetazos, lo tira al suelo le
-Díme, díme tú, afeminado ¿Dónde están los peces grandes?
Sorry, back to economics.
The Valdes speech is a window on the economic policy discussion in
“To strengthen the economy internally, in science and technology, in addressing social problems and the quality of life of our people, are ideas that we have to take on with greater efficiency, if we want the revolution and Cuban socialism to be truly irreversible, as Fidel and Raul wish.”
He goes on to say that the “struggle for order and discipline” is “perhaps the highest priority.”
There are two courses
One is to squeeze more out of the current system: energy conservation, new state investment projects, new aid or credits from friends overseas, use of new technology, exhortations to harder and more disciplined work. That’s what “order,” “efficiency,” and “discipline” are all about.
The other involves changing the system through decentralization and the use of market mechanisms, as in the 1990’s.
So far, as the Valdes speech confirms, the official discussion follows the first course, as have recent policy measures such as the new labor regulations and the changes to customs regulations that allow personal, non-commercial imports of appliances and car parts.
The diagnosis of
Now, back to the fishing story:
Fidel goes fishing with state security chief Ramiro Valdes. He casts his line, and after a while he pulls in a tiny little fish.
Very upset, he says to Ramiro: “Take charge of this, Ramiro.”
And he sees Ramiro taking the little fish, beating it, throwing it to the ground, stepping on its head, and interrogating it: “Tell me, tell me, you little fairy, where are the big fish?”