Monday, April 18, 2011



The conclusion of the Congress as summed up in the ledes of three newspapers:

La Jornada: “Five septuagenarian generals from the generation that carried out the Africa campaign of the 1970’s retained their seats in the highest leadership body of the Communist Party of Cuba, while the weight of the economic team was accentuated with the entrance of two of its main operators into the Political Bureau, the executive organ.”

Miami Herald: “An almost ghost-like Fidel Castro attended the closing of a Communist Party conclave Tuesday that marked the formal end of his era and endorsed key economic reforms — but dashed hopes for a younger leadership amid a sea of white hair.”

El Pais: “Continuity, without doubt: of the históricos, of the military men, and of the revolutionary and socialist imagination. And at the same time, the expected support of the Communist Party of Cuba for Raul Castro’s process of change, which will slowly open the country to private initiative and the market in an attempt to make the system sustainabale.”


My look ahead at the Congress.

The Lineamientos (economic and social policy guidelines under discussion at the Congress, issued last year) and my look at the highlights.


Above, Cuban television video of Fidel Castro’s entrance and the national anthem.

Fidel’s commentary in yesterday’s Granma included this: “The new generation is called to correct and to change without hesitation all that must be corrected and changed…”

The party leadership was chosen and following the established practice, the #2 in the government is now the #2 in the party: Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, 80. The new Political Bureau is here; Penultimos Dias sifts through the membership and finds three of 15 members are under age 60, including two members added today: Mercedes López Acea, 46, and economic czar Marino Murillo, 51.

Raul Castro’s introductory speech on Saturday engaged in some self-criticism, broadly applied, about the “consequences of not counting on a reserve of duly prepared substitutes” for party and government leadership positions. He said that this must be addressed over the next five years, starting “as soon as the Congress concludes.”

AP: The ChiComs applaud Havana’s economic reforms.

The Congress is summed up by CNN and the Herald. Lots of good coverage throughout at Cuban Colada.

I would sum it up like this: The Congress reaffirmed the commitment to economic reform; proposed a mechanism to push the reforms through the bureaucracy; signaled that reforms will proceed deliberately but not on an emergency basis; stated that the Party needs to butt out of day-to-day government and business affairs at all levels; and passed up the opportunity to make big personnel moves, including those that would send signals about next-generation leaders.


Granma has set up a page with information about the Congress, including links to reports on each committee’s discussions and the basic documents from past Congresses.

The text of the “Central Report,” i.e. Raul Castro’s speech, is in English here.

Reuters covers the delegates’ discussions in the committees, including this: “They supported a proposal to allow the buying and selling of homes, and to make it easier to do house swaps, a change sure to be warmly welcomed by ordinary Cubans.”

The tax discussion, noted in the Reuters story, involves a push for lower monthly tax payments for entrepreneurs in municipalities that are rural or are areas of slow business activity. This video report from Cuban television shows some of that discussion (starts at 2:30), with one delegate arguing that the high tax payments discourage Cubans from trying their hand at entrepreneurship. That’s a communist delegate at a Communist Party Congress calling for the government to reduce barriers to entrepreneurship.

The video mentioned above and other coverage include top officials discussing the repair of kitchen appliances, the need for local culinary traditions to be reflected in tourism restaurants, and otherwise illustrating a massive degree of micromanagement that can’t be easily erased.

Ted Henken, in Havana, gives his impressions of Havana and the parade just before the Congress began.


The Congress dedicated to economics opens with a political discussion that grabbed headlines. AP sums up: “For the first time since he and his brother came to power more than a half century ago, President Raul Castro proposed term limits for Cuba’s leaders, admitted that errors have left the country with no obvious successor and promised to rejuvenate the island’s political class.”

Raul Castro’s presentation: the text in Granma and video excerpts from the blog Cambios en Cuba.

Coverage from the New York Times and Miami Herald.


CNN on the expanding entrepreneurial sector, with video.

Reuters’ chronology of “Raul Castro's road to reform.”

La Jornada on the economic reform debate, including in Catholic print media.

Prensa Latina on the kick-off event, a Saturday parade commemorating the 50th anniversary of the “proclamation of the socialist character of the Revolution.”

A Telesur interview of University of Havana Professor Juan Triana on the Lineamientos.

On the left of this page in Granma, a link to a page with documents from each of the previous Congresses.

1 comment:

brianmack said...

I'm not a doctor but seeing the video of Fidel Castro entering the assembly hall on April 19, 2011 looks to me like he is most definitely terminally ill. I know this has been going on now for several years, Castro dying, and he is well over 80 years old but
I'm guessing Castro will not see 2012.
Important? Absolutely since regardless as to what the pundits say or not say, Fidel Castro is the biggest stumbling block for any removal of the U.S. embargo against Cuba.