The Last Congress and the Next Party
Just a few weeks before the Seventh Congress of the Cuba's Communist Party, very little is known, and much is assumed. Prophets on both sides of the sea began to issue predictions when Raúl Castro stated what was already more than evident: this Congress will be the last of the "historic" generation, and the Party, consequently, will be made up of and mostly led by individuals born after the 1959 Revolution. This is not due to any decision by Castroist grandparents and great-grandparents. Rather, it is a question of nature. Of time. There are several interesting developments, external and internal, that might may suggest what changes should be expected at the Party Congress, and those which should not.
Internationally, the Cuban Government is managing to reinsert itself into the world of international finance. Although the results are meager, banks and institutions just waiting for a signal to lend again, and to try to collect, because that's their job. Although the first starter shots had already been heard in Moscow, the fleeting flash in Paris scared US investors away; they are now waiting for the next election, almost certain that under the new president, whether Republican or Democrat, the embargo will have come to its end.
Castroist diplomacy has also garnered important victories. The greatest feather in their cap would be signing the peace accords in Colombia just days before the start of the Communist Party Congress. The opening of embassies in Havana and Washington over a year ago was a kind of blank diplomatic check made out to one bearer: Cuba. This check has finally made it possible to further erode Europe's Common Position, opening the door for presidents and prime ministers from the Old Continent to show up on the island.
Everything seems to be moving along fast, like a pauper's burial. But the Party's leadership, cunning and ancient conspirators, know that this is not enough. The political situation in Venezuela looms as a house of cards on the verge of collapse, and only Cuba can search for a compromise, in which the currently rebuffed and dazed government takes conciliatory steps, or begins to cede power, in order to avoid a confrontation. This arbitration is probably already underway - though bungled by the PSUV's inept and repugnant leaders. Let us not doubt the words of Díaz-Canel at the recent CELAC Summit when he said that Cuba believed in cooperation, solidarity and the need for collective action "without selfishness or intransigence."
But to achieve all this, that is, to complete the passing of the political baton from the "historic" generation to the generation of the scholarships, the "Camilitos," Lenin and many other revolutioanry social experiments, will require structural changes, for without a real opening up to the market, and free enterprise, there will be no new economy and no new country. Without democratizing the Party and expanding the range of policy options, there will be no freedom, synonymous with prosperity. And, what could be worse for the future government: they will not be able to pay the debts that have just been renegotiated.
The Cuban people are extremely frustrated, and expect almost nothing from this or any other Congress made up of members on the verge of retirement. The conventional wisdom is that Raúl Castro, or any other ageing member of the political elite, will never publicly admit that they buried the agreements of the CPC's First and Second Congresses. But, contrary to what would be expected to lift spirits, the 13th Plenary, the preamble to the 7th Congress, contains cryptic language like: "defining the theoretical basis of the model", "dynamic and non-static model," "a strategic and consensual decision," "Economic and Social Program until 2030," "the modernization of the model" and "sustainable socialism. "
The next Congress could constitute the end of the first part of a novel containing heroes to the rescue. The senior leaders might say: "We did what we could and now, in the next chapter, it is up to others." These "others" are already sitting on the Central Committee, in the ministries, and the Army's high command. These "others" are what we would call the "Impossible Generation," one which will always lack the training and experience of La Sierra and El Llano, and the experience of surviving attacks by the most powerful nation on earth. Unfortunately, everything appears to indicate that it will be necessary to start negotiating with the "Impossible Generation" soon, or it will mean war and chaos.
Lest the revolutionary narrative come to an end, so that this is not the last Communist congress, the "others" will have to sufficiently distance themselves from a story, of horror and mystery, written for more than 50 years. If they want to pull this off, the Congress will have to inspire a bored audience, reform electoral laws, approve some kind of multi-party system, prioritize investments by Cubans abroad, spur citizens to participate in SMEs, and open up media access to the churches and all non-governmental institutions. That would deliver the coup de grace to the American embargo.
The recognition in the 13th Party Plenary statement that barely 21% of the former Guidelines have been achieved in five years was not a simple mistake or assumption of guilt. It may have been a brilliant policy play; a test to gauge the reserves; an announcement that efforts to reform or improve "real socialism" in Cuba have failed, and now it is time for the younger generation, the successors, to "define the theoretical basis of a dynamic rather than a static model whose strategic, consensus-based vision makes it possible to update the model and to produce, through socialism, a sustainable society by 2030."
To paraphrase the Apostle: they must have done so in silence, for all they have said and done is for that, because there are things that have to be concealed, for if they were to come to pass, they would surely fail.